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Showing posts from July, 2006

Author Events

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a book signing at Mystery Lovers Bookshop for Laura Lippman’s newest Tess Monaghan novel, No Good Deeds. Laura is one of my top five favorite mystery authors and closer to number one than number five. She is also a wonderful speaker…entertaining and informative.

I love these author events. If you have never been to one, I have two words for you: WHY NOT?

If you are a reader, meeting the people behind the words and characters is fascinating. You get to learn about the birth of a story and why a character behaves the way he does. And most (99.9%) authors love to meet the folks who read their books, so they are very giving.

If you are a writer and don’t attend author events…well, I just don’t know what to say to you. Except SHAME ON YOU and GO! Why should you spend your precious time going to a book signing, you ask? Let me count the reasons.

1.) Networking Part 1: Have you not heard about the time I mentioned that I was a mystery writer to a big na…

The Power of Silence

One of the lessons I’ve learned from my yoga practice is the power of silence. And the rarity of it. Think about it. How much time do you spend in silence each day? Most of us are constantly bombarded by noise of some sort. Maybe it’s the kids yammering. Maybe it’s the background sounds of life in the office or the city. Often, even if we have a chance to experience silence, we turn on the radio in the car or the TV at home.

Years ago, encouraged by my yoga teacher, I experimented with driving with the radio OFF. At first it was a shock to my system. Then I started enjoying this quiet time. The practice continued at home. Was the TV on because there was a show on that I wanted to see? Or was it simply for some sound to block out the stillness. So I did my housework without the TV, radio or CD player blaring.

And you know what happens? My characters speak to me. And I can hear them.

I remember my mom saying, “I can’t hear myself think,” when the world was exploding around her. In the sile…

Picture this...or not

The biggest news at the moment is my website. It’s up and running and I love the look of it. I’ve appreciated the comments of those who have visited and since two issues keep coming up, I thought I’d address those here.

First…there are no pictures of my book cover because it isn’t published yet. No links to let you buy it for the same reason. I do hope that when it does find a publisher and is out in print, everyone who’s asked about it will come back and buy it. Believe me, I will make it accessible for purchase when the time comes.

Second…there are no large, current pictures of me because I don’t like any of the ones my hubby has taken lately. I have lots of excuses here. He’s been working a lot of overtime, so by the time he gets home, he’s tired and I’m tired and neither of us feels like taking pictures or having pictures taken. Then there’s the heat. Don’t know where you are, but here in southwestern Pennsylvania, it has been miserable. Hot and humid. I want my picture for the webs…

To tweak or not to tweak

I spent the morning and part of the afternoon with my critique group. They got the very first glimpse of my new novel. I managed to get Chapter One finished yesterday, just in time for our scheduled meeting. If you’re familiar with Anne Lamont’s Bird By Bird, you’re familiar with the term “shitty first draft.” This definitely describes Chapter One. And that’s okay. Words on the page are easier to fix than to create in the first place.

I actually belong to two critique groups. The one I met with today consists of two other writers. The second group is a larger one and online. Both groups have proved invaluable to me and my work. Today’s meeting provided insights into what’s lacking in my opening. The question now is how much do I fix at this point?

As writers, one of the pitfalls we face is spending too much time fixing the first chapter. Or the first three chapters. Or the first five. The problem with all this fixing is that the rest of the book never gets written.

So I may tweak it a bi…

Tension

I’m confused. And is it any wonder? Just look at the two career paths I’ve chosen. I write murder mysteries. And I teach yoga. Two diametrically opposed professions. I’ve never quite been able to reconcile the two. I explain it by proclaiming to be a very complex person.

The differences hit home today. I was sitting here working on a critique for a writing friend and found myself giving her suggests to increase tension. This is what we want in our writing. Increased tension. Let’s face it. Happy characters doing happy things spell B-O-R-I-N-G. No, we want to torture our characters. Make life miserable for them. And then make it even worse. Build that tension!

But just last night, I sat in front of a room of stressed-out women (and one cute, but stressed young boy) and encouraged them to let the tension go with the exhalation. Breathe. Feel the tension peeling away like the layers of an onion. I watched as they melted into the floor during savasana. I smiled as they left the Yoga Center …

The first six pages

I just completed writing the first six pages of my new novel, tentatively titled Death Bet. It picks up where Horse of a Different Killer leaves off, so you’d think it would be fairly easy to slide into those characters again.

You’d be wrong.

First, it’s been several months since I entered that world. In the meantime, I’ve been working on short stories and all the right-brained stuff involved in writing like marketing and promotion and building a website (still under construction). More recently, I’ve been outlining the plot for this new novel and developing a new set of quirky characters to complicate my protagonist’s life. But outlining isn’t the same as writing. For me, it’s the skeleton of the story. Or better yet, the roadmap. That’s seriously different than the actual journey.

I’ll get into the debate of outlining versus writing by the seat of your pants another time. For right now, I’m exhausted from the effort of writing six pages. Six really, REALLY bad pages. I do tend to edit …

I keep hitting the escape key, but I’m still here…

I bought a t-shirt at Malice Domestic with that on it. Some days, truer words have never been emblazoned across a person’s chest.

My dad resides in a nursing facility. A very nice nursing facility. He’s been there for almost a year in a slow downhill slide into the dark hole of dementia exacerbated by the effects of a couple of small strokes. Yesterday was a particularly bad day. He was determined that he was coming home with us. On those days, he doesn’t realize that he can’t walk and can barely sit up for more than an hour or two at a time. In his cloudy mind, he’s fine and he just wants out. Most days, all he wants is to get back into bed and go to sleep.

I don’t wear that t-shirt when I go to visit Dad. Truth can be cruel.

Returning home after a couple of hours spent with Dad, I turn on my computer, make a cup of French Vanilla Cappuccino and break out the chocolate truffles before escaping into my email. After I’ve caught up and pumped up with caffeine and chocolate, I get to work o…