Monday, October 13, 2014
To be continued ....
Saturday, October 11, 2014
Take the cover for Grisham's SYCAMORE ROW. How perfect to have the tree as the focal point. But the fogginess in the background sends a message to me as well. When I first looked at the cover -- and you should know I highly recommend the book -- I wondered if the fog is meant to imply the answers to the mystery are behind it, literally and figuratively. Or maybe it's there to make the other trees seem insignificant compared to the one at the forefront. Of course, I guessed the tree would play an important role as the story unfolded. It made me curious, as all covers should do, enough to read the book.
I have noticed that some covers intentionally lack detail. Though not as interesting, they're usually done with books by brand name authors. Let's face it. If I see Stephen King's name plastered across a blank background I'm hooked -- and most likely the print size will be larger than the title's because, yes, he's a brand that sells. Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series always have a colorful solid background with her name and the title on the cover. Nothing more. It works. However, it's just not as much fun. I like the idea of a puzzling cover with its suggestive details. In teaching, it's what we call making predictions. I used to ask my students prediction questions all the time in literature class. What do you think the title implies? How about the cover? Can you make predictions on what the story will involve? Something to get the readers interested. If you think about it, by answering these questions, in an indirect way they've helped to write the story.
So, next time you search for something to read, check out those covers. The tiny details are full of enticing tidbits, beckoning to you, teasing you with predictions of what's inside. Don't ignore them, or else you may miss out on a pretty good read!
Enjoy your next great reading adventure :-)
DYING TO DREAM
DEVILISH, DEVIOUS, AND DEADLY WITH ONE BITE
KATHRYN LONG - AUTHOR WEBSITE
Friday, September 5, 2014
Though I’ve mostly written cozy mysteries, I’ve taken a departure in my latest creation. It’s a bit more serious, but still focused on entertaining, rich characters who drive the story. Now, the task at hand is to answer questions about a character from one of my books – WIP or already published. I’ve chosen the female heroine in my recent WIP mystery, Grave Maker Blues. This is the first novel in an anticipated series that takes place in the Alleghenies of northwestern Pennsylvania. I chose this setting because it’s where our family has a cabin and I have many special memories of this beautiful country -- covering sixty-some years in my lifetime. It’s rich with history and scenery. Anyway, here goes …
DESCRIBE THE MAIN CHARACTER:
Sarah Blue Mackenzie, known to friends as Mac, is a young woman who by the age of eighteen had lost both her parents. It forced her to become strong and independent. With tending the bar, Moe’s Deja Blue Bar and Grill, inherited from her father, Mac’s life is busy enough. However, she’s been given the added role of caregiver to her Uncle Chaz who is crippled and partially blind due to diabetes. His career as a writer of historical books and articles would be over if it weren’t for Mac. She’s become his research assistant, or fact finder as she likes to call herself.
Sarah is a loyal, hard working, and loving woman, yet there is a part of her that always looks for more. Love evades her, or so she thinks. And mystery seems to surround her.
SETTING – WHERE AND WHEN:
The Allegheny Forest of northwestern Pennsylvania is picturesque to say the least. But it’s also a place of adventure, rich culture with the Seneca and Iroquois people and their history, and lots of wildlife. Mac’s home is located on Roper Hollow Road, close to the Kinzua Reservoir, and not coincidently, the place you would find our family cabin! The story is in the present, though there are references to the past, which play a significant part in the mystery.
THE MAIN CONFLICT, HOW IT CHALLENGES HER, WHAT SHE CAN DO TO SOLVE IT:
As I mentioned, one of the roles Mac takes on in this story is that of researcher or fact finder. In the opening scene Mac visits a cemetery to collect birth and death data for Uncle Chaz’ latest book on the history of local Native American families. Rather than having a routine day of tedious data collecting, Mac discovers a body lying in an open grave. The problem? The face is familiar and that person was assumed to have died over ten years ago. Matters get more complicated when Mac becomes suspected of murder. Finding out the true identities of the victim and the murderer becomes a priority in Mac’s life. Throw the challenge of impending romance into the mix and you have a quite entertaining tale. Nash Redwing has been her friend since their youth, but could this be changing? Mac has her doubts, but also hopeful expectations.
BOOK TITLE AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE:
I’ve titled the book Grave Maker Blues. It’s intended as part of a series called Shades of Blue. There are many references both literal and figurative which led me to the titles. Sarah’s middle name is Blue, as are all the family members on her father’s side. There’s a story behind that, and it’s explained in the book. Wouldn’t want to spoil the fun! The bar Mac owns, which she inherited from her father, Moe, is called Moe’s Deja Blue Bar and Grill. And last but not least, Nash Redwing plays guitar and sings blues music. I think you can guess the figurative reference to Shades of Blue.
Once I’ve polished the work to its shiny best I will start the process of pedaling it off to an agent. (Fingers, toes, and eyes crossed!) Be waiting and watching for news about this.
I guess that’s about it. Thanks again to Jo Chumas. You’ll find anything and everything about her and her work at her website/blog:
http://www.jochumas.com/blog and Twitter: @JoChumas . Her award winning novel, The Hidden, is available through such online retailers as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
**Now, for the not so great news I won’t be passing the baton, so to speak, to move this along to future blogs. I wasn’t able to persuade anyone to take on the task, but we all have super busy lives! Right? I wasn’t even sure if I’d get this out in time. Still, it’s all good. Cheers! And happy writing, everyone!
Mystery Writer -- Lilly M Series
Dying to Dream
A Deadly Deed Grows (soon to be released)
Monday, June 9, 2014
Well, I guess that depends on what you enjoy reading – thrillers, dramatic tales of tragedy and success, steamy romance, complex mysteries to really make you exercise your brain, … you might have some idea, but it doesn’t hurt to find recommendations. They are out there, trust me. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, bloggers, Goodreads, and on and on. You Google the topic and you’ll get scads of hits.
Personally, I love mystery, romance, drama and especially those where the beach and the ocean are part of the setting. Right now I’m reading the second in a new series by Julie Lindsey titled Murder Comes Ashore, part of her Patience Price mysteries. It takes place on the island – off the shore of Virginia – called Chincoteague. It exists and now I want to go there!
Seriously, there is something compelling about an ocean shore setting. It relaxes me, makes me feel like I’ve escaped the rat race, which is my main reason for reading, i.e. escapism. That most likely is the reason four of my novels take place in coastal towns. Dying to Dream is along the Louisiana Gulf, Devilish, Devious, and Deadly with One Bite and A Deadly Deed Grows (soon to be released) you’ll find along the Florida Panhandle in such quaint towns as Cape San Blas. Those are all mysteries, but recently I ventured into romance and have a series where the setting is on the Georgia coastline, starting with Catalina’s Spring. Some settings I’ve been to, but some I just choose because it makes me feel good writing about places like that. Much as I enjoy in reading about them, I guess.
In any case, I thought I would help those readers trying to decide by posting a couple of links. One is from Goodreads with a list of summer reads that do take place on the beach. The other comes from the Huffington Post. That one is loaded with suggestions in all areas of interest. So, happy reading to all! And enjoy your summer!
Goodreads Summer List
The Huffington Post Recommends ...
Monday, June 2, 2014
Apply that to writing? Well, read what Winston Churchill had to say ... "You should go to your room every day at nine o'clock ... and say to yourself, 'I'm going to sit here for four hours and write!' ... if you sit waiting for inspiration, you will sit there till you are an old man."
Happy writing! And here's to lots of perspiration :-)
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Now, a year later, I am still here, still writing, still experiencing those emotions. Every time I find my book's ranking boost, or receive my very meager royalty check in the mail, or read a pleasant book review from an appreciative fan, I get that tingly feeling inside, that glow which tells me maybe this isn't such a bad gig. I could do worse in this late stage of my life.
Then from time to time, I wonder if the apprehension, the fear of failure or rejection, will go away with the next book release. Probably not. However, if I honestly admit it, what's important is that there IS another book release. I can't let the fear of rejection, criticism, indifference, or any of those negative vibes stop me from writing.
Now, let's say instead that Dying to Dream is an experience. It's a step along a path I've chosen to take. If talent and perseverance are willing to stick it out, there might be many more steps along that path. So, whether or not the book has made its mark isn't something I like to dwell on. It definitely won't be dictating my decision to write. I have to believe that.
To me, writing is a gift. And that's really enough for me. Of course, I'm not going to lie. Having that best seller some day wouldn't be so bad either :-) Trust me. Realistic or not, it's on my wishlist!
So, happy birthday, my paranormal baby! May you be the first of many to come.
Cheers, all. Happy writing and reading!
Monday, April 14, 2014
I have a few ideas, some good, some really dumb ones, and one that even after letting it simmer for awhile I still think is fantastic! Guess that’s a keeper. Now, when I decide to work on it is one question. The other is how do I start?
Ideas are just that. Have you ever met someone who says, “I’m an idea person.” Yeah, that’s great. You come up with the idea and somebody else will do all the work, sweat and toil through the details. Don’t misunderstand me. You have to start somewhere and an idea, a premise for a story, is a really great place.
And what’s my idea? Well there’s the other thing. Call me superstitious, but I don’t really want to talk about it because then if it doesn't work or I won’t start on it … I guess it makes me a bit nervous. So, I don’t talk about it.
The same thing happens to me at times when I make an outline for a book. I place a lot of details into it, which you’d think would be a good thing, right? Have your trip agenda, your road map all set for you to hit the road. No worries. Who knew such a plan could give me claustrophobia? Yep. I feel constricted with limited creativity, like an artist who has his arms tied and told to go ahead, paint the darn picture!
So, change it, you say. Well, duh. I know that, too. But at the same time, I’m thinking, “what if I hadn’t written the stupid outline in the first place? Maybe my creative juices would have been awesome and I might have come up with a really, really great story, but now it’s just this oh-so great story.” Or something like that.
Just Spring it? That’s the great thing about Spring. It’s rebirth, it’s opportunity to start again and come up with new and wonderful things, like my story ideas. Yep, it’s time to clean out that file and start anew.
Happy Spring and enjoy reading and writing, all!
P.S. Happy Birthday, Mom! You would have been 106 today