Saturday, April 28, 2012
Friday, April 27, 2012
Jean, so glad to be here today. I’ve so enjoyed our previous conversations! You’ve asked me to talk about the craft of writing—a BIG topic—and thought provoking. That’s one of the things I’ve really enjoyed about our blog tours, making the time to think about what I’m trying to do, and why. In my eyes, the “craft” of writing is two pronged—“craft, and art.”
I love reading fiction novels (mysteries mainly) that have a strong sense of “place,” with characters I like, and in the case of mysteries—a tricky plot I can’t figure out, but makes sense at the end. I also like reading work that has a good sense of language—using just the right word (I’ve spent hours rewriting until it’s “just right” for me—or pressing the DELETE button!). I even like long sentences, and don’t mind being sent to the dictionary a couple times.
All that being said about what I like to read, the art and craft of writing for me is my telling a good story, in an enticing and suspenseful way, with interesting and appealing characters, a murder that needs to be solved (with all the emotional baggage that entails), and using language and style that will appeal to readers and is also satisfying for me to write. A mouthful, I know.
And it’s a really big mountain to climb—but writing a book you’d love to read, I think, is key. So, in today’s writing world, one of my main challenges is balancing all those elements in an artistic and well crafted way. And a key activity for me in trying to “get there,” is rewriting. On a practical/technological level, word processing software has been a tremendous enabler for me. And the author I take inspiration from to achieve those goals, and enjoy reading the most—is P.D. James. To me, she balances all the “craft, and art” elements I most admire.
Thanks, Jean, for inviting me back on this tour and letting me spout-off!
Sure enjoy visiting with you.
My pleasure, Madeline. Thank your for your good thoughts.
You can buy Madeline's books on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com and Smashwords in print and e-book editions. And you can visit her online at her website or her Blog. You can also email her directly.
Madeline will be giving away 3 copies of her latest book to visitors who leave their email addresses with their comments.
About the Author:
Madeiline (M.M.) Gornell has three published mystery novels—PSWA awarding winning Uncle Si’s Secret (2008), Death of a Perfect Man (2009), and Reticence of Ravens (2010—and her first Route 66 mystery). Reticence of Ravens is a 2011 Eric Hoffer Fiction finalist and Honorary Mention winner, the da Vinci Eye finalist, and a Montaigne Medalist finalist. In 2012 Lies of Convenience—Book One of a Margot Madison-Cross Route 66 Trilogy, and Pronouncements of Ravens—a sequel to Reticence of Ravens are being released. Lies of Convenience is a tale that fictionally connects murder, truths untold, and Chicago’s Lake Michigan with California’s high desert on the opposite end of The Mother Road. Pronouncements of Ravens takes Hubert James Champion III one step forward in his quest for peace and solitude in the Mojave. But before Hugh can come to terms with himself and his desert home, new obstacles rear their ugly heads—one being a heart wrenching murder. No, there is no easy path for Hugh in the Mojave.Madeline is also a potter with a fondness for stoneware and reduction firing. She lives with her husband and assorted canines in the Mojave in a town on internationally revered Route 66.
Click here to buy her novel, Reticence of Ravens:
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Welcome, Anne, to my mountaintop. It's always great to have you here. Please tell us about "Sites, Settings and Scenery."
By definition, setting is the locale or period in which the action of a novel takes place. It can be urban, rural, tropical, wintry, foreign, indigenous, and/or everything in between. A sleepy English village on a clear, crisp winter’s day for example, is a profoundly different setting from a bustling Asian city of fifteen million battered by a category five typhoon.
Setting, however, is more than just scenery. It establishes mood. It creates conflict and causes turmoil. It impacts and changes the characters. A great setting can solve a sagging middle.
It can (and should) move the story forward.
For my romantic suspense series, the Piedmont Island Trilogy, I created a fictional island community in northeastern
Setting isn’t just scenery. It’s a vital tool in every writer’s tool kit. Use it wisely, and happy writing!
Blurb: FRANK, INCENSE
Thank you, Anne. It's always a pleasure to have you visit here.
Anne K. Albert’s award winning stories "chill the spine, warm the heart and soothe the soul…all with a delightful touch of humor." A member of Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and married to her high school sweetheart for more than a quarter of a century, it's a given she'd write mystery and romantic suspense. When not writing she loves to travel, visit friends and family, and of course, read using ‘Threegio’ her cherished and much beloved Kindle 3G!
You can visit Anne at her website: Anne K. Albert. and her blog site.
You can buy her novel, Frank, Incense and Muriel at Amazon.com
Monday, April 23, 2012
|F. M. Meredith aka Marilyn Meredith|
Marilyn, tell us about the importance of "Sense of Place."
While reading several books by new authors, I’ve discovered a few with an important element missing, the sense of place. Some of my favorite books are those that I feel like I know exactly what the area looks like where the characters are living, working, talking, and experiencing the things that are going on with and around them.
What I try to do when I’m writing a scene is to see it through the eyes of my point-of-view character. (In my Rocky Bluff P.D. series the POV character may change from scene to scene.) I want to be sure that the reader knows where that character is, what the place is like, perhaps the smells, and of course the weather.
Driving at night in the fog is particularly difficult, especially if you are trying to follow someone without being noticed—which is something Officer Gordon Butler must do. The salty scent of the ocean pervades everywhere.
Rocky Bluff is not a real town, but I can see what it looks like in my imagination. Situated on either side of the 101 highway in Southern California, it’s north of
On top of the bluff are expensive homes where the richest people in the town live. They have no beach access, but many have spectacular ocean views. It is also the location for the
In the older part of town, beach cottages, many in disrepair, are closest to the shore. The downtown areas with businesses, shops and restaurants are located on and near the main drag,
The police department is not only understaffed but hasn’t been upgraded with any of the new equipment the larger police departments have access to. Even the Chief’s Office is shabby, furnished with items the Chief has brought from his own home. (This whole situation makes it necessary for the RBPD to solve crimes the old fashioned way—investigating and asking lots of questions.
As things happen in the story, I hope that I’ve given enough of a description of the places that the reader can imagine much the same as what I envisioned in my mind as I wrote.
Even if an author is writing about a real place, not everyone has visited so it’s necessary to describe enough that the reader can visualize what the area looks like the characters inhabit. Sometimes, the setting can almost seem like another character. I hope that’s what I’ve done in No Bells.
No Bells is available at the usual places as a trade paperback and an e-book.
F.M. Meredith aka
No Bells Blurb: Officer Gordon Butler has finally found the love he’s been seeking for a long time, but there’s one big problem, she’s the major suspect in a murder case.
F.M. Meredith, also known as
Visit Marilyn at her blog, and if you would like to get in touch with her by email.
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Even writing a romance scene can be tricky. Writers have to decide if they want the romance to be graphic and heavy duty or subtle and intimate. Do you want the romance to overwhelm the mystery? Or do you want the mystery to be the main focus of the story?
The craft of writing a mystery involves so many facets, and as an author I want the reader to feel they’re right there, watching what’s happening. The protagonist has to be someone readers can relate to on some level, whether they like the individual or not. Actually, the reader should be able to relate to the antagonist as well, even if they’re reaction to the bad guy is, “Ick” or “Eewww”.
So, in the end, the craft of writing involves so much more than the readers realize. It takes study, research, planning and crafting a story. No matter how outrageous the storyline is, there has to be some kind of reality to keep the reader grounded and reading.
Thank you for having me in today, Jean. I’ve really enjoyed talking about writing, but then it’s one of my favorite subjects.
My pleasure, Marja. Come back anytime, espeially when you don't need snowshoes.
At the end of this tour two names will be randomly selected from those who've left comments and they'll each receive a copy of Bogey's Ace in the Hole. Be sure to leave your email address. with your comments.
Friday, April 20, 2012
Thank you, Jean, for hosting me on your blog today. You’ve given me a challenge! Jean has asked me to write something on the craft of writing. So here goes:
Do I plot? Do I outline? Do I do a storyboard? None of the above. So how do I write? I’m a panster, mostly. My characters like to write their own story.
Hey they were successful writers and I was a beginner, what did I know? So I decided to try my hand at plotting—the story board would never work, well that’s another story on craft. Anyway, I was going on vacation and we would be taking many trains, so I decided to plot my next book on the train rides.
I began to plot each chapter, and after about four chapters—nothing. My characters, the ones that had been talking in my head and telling me to write their stories, shut up. Wouldn’t speak to me. And to this day, that story is still not written.
I found out that I can’t change the fact that I’m a panster. I like to find out what my characters are going to do, just as if I were reading my story. But still these authors were successful and I hadn’t been published yet. So what I did was took everything that I could use from that workshop and made it my own. Kind of like when Randy on American Idol tells one of the contestants to make the song their own.
Over the years, I’ve been writing, I’ve developed my own method. When I have that germ of an idea I open a file and name it background_Working title and write the blurb. This could be one paragraph to a page. And then I do a list of the current characters rattling around in my mind. I do a brief set up of the town, if it’s a major city, I usually have a map, and I figure out where they live. Then I open a new file and start writing.
As I write and I get to know my characters, I write things in my background file. How tall they are, their hair color, eye color. Any little quirks they have. When I can see their home or apartment, I hop on a real estate site in the area, and find a picture and put it in my background file.
The Beckett’s I actually visited NYC while writing the first story. I made my husband and friends walk the murder area. And I made notes for my background file.
So what I’m saying about this is, you have to come up with your own method of plotting or outlining. Take a lot of workshops, go to conferences, do everything you can to get information on the craft of writing a novel, then MAKE IT YOUR OWN!
When Tyler discovers what Keira plans, he realizes he must stop her before he loses her for good.
During the blog tour Mary will be throwing all the people’s name who comment about the content of her posts, at each stop, into a hat for a drawing. She will be giving away to two lucky winners, one copy of any of her books (winner’s choice). Winners will be announced at the wrap up at the end of the blog tour, April 28th.
Mary’s web site: http://www.marymartinez.com
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
There’s a lot of advice out there for writers. One common piece of advice is: “Write what you know.” That one was put out there a long time ago to keep writers from making fools of themselves by getting facts or details wrong. Great advice at the time, but with so much information available via the Internet now, writers can learn about virtually any subject in a short period of time. All we have to do is “Google” it and we can write about it like an expert.
But what about our characters? We can’t simply Google them, can we? We have to come up with realistic people to write about on our own. No search engine will do it for us. We may say we create them entirely from imagination, but don’t believe it. If we honestly look at every character we’ve ever written, we’ll have to confess to stealing them. If we look long and hard at everyone in our families and circle of friends, we’ll find ourselves guilty of ripping off bits and pieces of them to create our characters. Or, we may have pinched them from someone we’ve seen on TV or read about in a book.
Admit it, ladies. That broad-shouldered, square-jawed hero you claim you dreamed up is really George Clooney. Or if you want more boyish charm, Brad Pitt. The silly old busybody you put next door to your heroine is in fact your Aunt Margaret. For us men, that long-legged, sexy woman in jeopardy pleading with our PI for help is in reality. . .well, we won’t reveal who she is in case our wives read this. And let’s be honest, guys. When we needed a ruggedly handsome, courageous and bold man-about-the-world, all we had to do was look in the mirror. And delude ourselves.
So we’re all thieves when it comes to creating characters, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Thank you, Jean, for hosting me today on this exciting blog tour. And thanks to everyone who stopped by. Leave a comment while you’re here if you’d like to win a free book. On April 29, I’ll put the names in a hat and draw two of them. The first one drawn will receive a signed print copy of my novel, MEMORY OF A MURDER. The second name drawn will have a choice of a print version or ebook of my collection, SHORT STORIES OF EARL STAGGS.
Thanks, Earl. I didn't realize until just now that I killed off my George Clooney character in Diary of Murder.
Sunday, April 15, 2012
|Lou Allin with Zodie, Friday and Zia|
It's my pleasure to welcome Lou Allin of Vancouver Island, my first guest of the "Mystery We Write Spring Mystery Tour." Born in Toronto, Lou grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. She received a PhD in English Renaissance Literature and spent three decades in Northern Ontario as a professor of English. With a cottage on a frozen lake as her inspiration, she started her Belle Palmer series, featuring a realtor and her German Shepherd, beginning with her first novel, Northern Winters Are Murder.
She has since moved to Canada's "Caribbean," Vancouver Island, with Friday, a mini-poodle and Zodie and Zia, her border collies, where her home overlooks the strait of Juan de Fuca. Her island series features Royal Canadian Mounted Police corporal Holly Martin.
Welcome to my mountaintop, Lou. Tell us about layering the landscape.
Prtega y Gasset said, "Tell me the landscape in which you live and I will tell you who you are." Setting is critical. I traverse, transpose, and then by working in layers, tranpsort the reader to my world once the wilderness of Northern Ontario and now Vancouver Island.
My first visit covers the bare essentials. Who and what. Conversation is at a minimum. Next comes scensory details, starting with sight. I don't write inch by inch, perfecting one sentence before moving on to the next. I visit and revisit the scene until layer by layer, the painting emerges. Each draft adds about ten percent.
Having four sessions enriches a territory. Northern Ontario has severe winters, but during the winter the lands opens for travel by snowshoe, skiis and snowmobile. Summer is humid and frantic with high temperatures and murderous bugs. Solid walls of rain during Vancouver Island's winters balance the forest fires of summer. The seasons change as I go through my drafts. Usually I come full circle. I always live where I write. The one exception was my standalone novel, Man Corn Murders, which took place in the red-rock desert of Utah. For that I depended on a month-long trip to the canyons.
My reference library includes books on birds, animals, plants, fungi, geology, history, astronomy, fossils, everything important about my landscape. I've even bought topographic maps., I'd rather not construct a road where there isn't one or stick a river in the middle of a bog. Once I made an old brewery into a grow-op near an abandoned rail line designed to carry shipments of marijuana. I got a big laugh out of the aptly-named Budd car (a single coach with engine on board used in the far north).
My Clintonians don't bloom in early September when the yellow flower has become a purple fruit. April is the time for skunk cabbage. Salmonberries ripen before blackberries. Keeping a monthly plant diary helps. Nor do I want to make a mistake about local animals. There are no foxes on Vancouver Island, nor are there moose or grizzlies, but you may see elk and black bears.
Instead of the devil the angel is in the details.
The reader feels sweat evaporating on skin and the parch of desert wind, sees marten scat on a rock, hears warbles in the stillness, sniffs the reek of rotting seaweed, notes trees leafing in nature's order, watches melting snow on branches turn into sinuous snakes and caresses granite. When the sensory experience is complete, the final process begins, suiting the mood the scene. Trees rub wounds on each other like two people in a distructive marriage.
Thank you, Lou.
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Saturday, April 7, 2012
|The author pictued on his book cover|
Shepard is also wine editor for French Wine Explorers (www.wine-tours-france.com) as well as the author of Shepard’s Guide to Mastering French Wines.
When did you decide to publish independently?
Shepard's book, The Southeast Asian Quartet, will be free on Friday the 13th along with my novel, Diary of Murder, and 11 others. You can view the list at: http://www.amazon.com/lm/RXUK7UVMTPUOH/ref=cm_lm_pthnk_view?ie=UTF8&lm_bb=
You can learn more about William Shepard at the following sites: