Thursday, July 28, 2016

Clicking Our Heels

Some of the members of The Stiletto Gang are having a dinner party.  Each can invite three guests to join them for dinner.  Who would they be and why?

Linda Rodriguez: Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens, and Octavia Butler. Woolf for her bright, often viscous wit. Dickens for his flood of storytelling. Butler for her thinking about humanity and issues of race, class, sustainability, and creativity.

Paffi Flood: Eleanor Roosevelt, Marie Curie, and Julia Child.

Marilyn Meredith: For those who are alive, I'm going to name some people you probably don't know - Victoria Heckman, Sue McGinty, Karen Kavanaugh - all mystery writers I've shared meals with and I know the conversation would be wonderful. These three are members of the Central Coast Sisters in Crime- and really there are others who would be great to share a dinner with.

Sparkle Abbey: ?

Dru Ann Love: George Washington because he's the father our country and I would like to know what was going through his head at that time, and does he like what he sees of this country now. Martin Luther King, Jr. because he's the leader of the civil rights movement and I would like to know what was going through his head at the time, and does he like what he sees of this country now. Barbra Streisand because she's Barbra Streisand.

Juliana Aragon Fatula: Shakespeare, Sherman Alexie, Sandra Cisneros.  They are the three writers who have influenced my style, oh and Tom Robbins, but his name doesn't begin with an S, so he's disqualified.

Kay Kendall: William Shakespeare, Madame Curie and Abraham Lincoln.

Jennae M. Phillippe:  Oooh! so many possibilities! I think a fantastic dinner party would be John Oliver of Last Week Tonight, Amanda Palmer, author of The Art of Askng, andHaley Atwell, of TV show Agent Carter. I understand that I have two Brits and someone married to a Brit on this list, but I am standing by it.

Bethany Maines: Alive or dead? Alive I would probably go with Nathan Fillion (Castle), Pink, and Gina Davis, I think that would be a hilarious dinner party. Dead: I think I'd have to pick Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut, Shakespeare (just so I could prove he wrote everything), and Agatha Christie.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Cranking (Toddler) Tunes

By Bethany Maines

Many things change after having a baby.  And I have to say that one of the things that I’m the most sad to see change is the amount of music I listen to.  Baby nap times seem to encompass the whole dang day! I used to have iTunes running almost constantly.  Not that it wasn’t a battle with my husband over what to listen to.  No, I don’t want more Phish.  And there’s only so much hip-hop and Grateful Dead I can listen to before going insane. (Yes, my husband is a hippy with a secret love of 90’s R&B.  He compensates for this deficiency by being ruggedly handsome and having the miraculous ability to open jars and kill countless spiders.)  

The interesting thing is that, aside from the specific bands, where my husband I deviate in our musical tastes is an actual love of music.  He loves music.  Phish, Dave Matthews, the Allman Brothers, and the Grateful Dead all have one thing common.  OK, take a toke and make that two things – they’re jam bands.  I hate jam bands.  It’s just giant swaths of useless music that take away from the important thing – the lyrics.  I love the words. (Surprised?  Probably not.)  For me, music is like poetry with half the pretentiousness and way more shake-your-bootiliciousness.  And I like to play it ALL the time particularly when I’m working.  I find that music helps put me in the zone for writing and for design.  

But with an in-home office and a baby, it’s become a lot more difficult to crank the tunes through the work day.  I was excited when the baby hit two and it became easier to send her to daycare/babysitting and there’s only one nap to contend with, but it has also meant that she’s tons more verbal.  With a toddler in the house, I don’t feel quite so comfortable cranking up a few of the songs I love, like Don’t Shoot Me Santa by The Killers.  I am perfectly prepared to explain that boys have a penis and some people are in wheelchairs and sometimes boys marry boys and girls marry girls.  But… I am not at all prepared to explain why Santa is shooting that guy in the song.  I’m pretty sure I see headphones in my future.


Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mysteries, Wild Waters, Tales from the City of Destiny and An Unseen Current.  You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Blogging Tips

Two weeks ago, Kristopher Zgorski from BOLO Books and I participated in a panel on bloggers for the Sisters In Crime Chesapeake Chapter where we both talked about the many chapters of blogging giving our audience some of the tasks that we do to make our blog what is is today. We had a question and answer period and the feedback that I received was we gave a good talk and it was informative.

The main focus of dru's book musings is to be a book advocate and introduce the works of authors to my readers through their characters.

Some tips for authors before you approach a blogger for a review or a guest post:
  • Learn as much as you can about the type of blog they have.
  • For reviews, learn what genre they specialize in.
  • For guest posts, make sure you’ve read some of the posts on their site to get an idea of what may be expected of you.
  • I want original content.
  • If you are given a deadline and can’t meet it, please let the blogger know beforehand.
  • Contact the blogger at least 2-3 months prior to you book release to get onto their schedule.
  • Share your guest post on social media. If you don't participate on social media, have your friends share.
  • You’re not obligated to comment on blog posts, but readers do appreciate it.

For more tips, check out what Kristopher had to say here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

GONE GIRL'S Mom and Me

By Kay Kendall

Author of GONE GIRL Gillian Flynn (left), me on the right
Every few years a new book bursts on the scene and throws the crime novel genre into a tizzy. These are big books that sell millions, remain on bestseller lists for months and months, get remade as movies, and establish new trends in reading.

In recent memory three enormous crime novels have burst forth from publishers in North America. Dan Brown's THE DA VINCI CODE hit in 2003, revivifying the thriller sub-genre. Stieg Larsson’s GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO came to America from Sweden in September 2008, the first of a four-part series. And in June 2012 came the diabolically plotted GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn.
My favorite among these mega-sellers, by far, is GONE GIRL. I admire the author’s ability to fashion such an intricate yet entertaining plot. As a writer myself, plotting is not my long suit, so I’m awed by someone whose talents in that area are masterful.
Online comments about this book amaze me. So many readers profess to dislike the book and to loathe the two main characters, yet the darned thing stayed a bestseller for ages. In 2014 GONE GIRL was made into a film that opened to fine reviews. The author wrote the screen play. GONE GIRL's popularity was so immense that it sent her two previous novels up the bestseller charts too--SHARP OBJECTS and DARK PLACES.
Back then, in the midst of all this hoopla about GONE GIRL, I thumbed through the latest edition of my undergrad alma mater’s monthly magazine and found—lo and behold—an article about Gillian Flynn. Because I knew little about her, I stopped to read the story, thinking she must have made a presentation at the University of Kansas. Why else were they profiling her? Then I did a double take, and then a triple take.
Gillian Flynn graduated from the same school I did. Who knew?! Not only was KU the alma mater of the famed mystery writer Sara Paretsky, and of me (not so famous), but it was also Ms. Flynn’s. I was so proud I burst into a short rendition of the school cheer, Rock Chalk, right on the spot. (I scared my dog.)
Because I attend three large mystery and thriller conferences each year, I have the chance to see many fine and famous authors. Some are on the circuit and easy to find. For example, every summer I see author David Morrell, and I have blogged about meeting him, the father of RAMBO. A few authors never seem to appear at conferences. Ms. Flynn is not on the circuit.

Author Karin Slaughter (left) interviews Gillian Flynn (right)
Then last summer the International Thriller Writers announced its lineup of headline authors for ThrillerFest 2016. And there she was. Gillian Flynn. For an entire year I looked forward to hearing her talk about her life and life’s work. I’m delighted to say that she did NOT disappoint.
At the conference in New York City on July 8, author Karin Slaughter interviewed Ms. Flynn for an hour. Because they are long-time friends, their talk was free and easy. Emphasis on easy, even tiptoeing into truly raunchy territory. If you’ve seen the film BRIDESMAIDS, then you know whereof I speak.
Several things Ms. Flynn said stuck in my mind. First, she attributed her penchant for writing dark, dark stories to her upbringing. Her parents were college teachers, and her father (a film professor) shared scary movies with her at a young age. She explained during the interview, “When I turned seven, he said, ‘I think you are now ready to see PSCYHO.’”
That explains a lot, doesn’t it?
Ms. Flynn also noted that when she meets readers, they often say to her, “Oh, you seem so normal.” Well, exactly! I sat in the audience and thought that very same thing. Her normalcy, she says, comes from her Midwestern upbringing (hometown, Kansas City). Her fiction writing comes from her dose of heavy-duty adult film and reading material, started very early.
Of course I stood in line to have her sign a copy of GONE GIRL for me. I bought a second one just for that purpose. We had a nice chat, and she said, when asked, of course she recalls KU’s Rock Chalk chant.
Now Gillian Flynn is hard at work on the follow-up to her mega bestseller and professed to feeling some pressure. I wished her well and went off happily, my signed copy of GONE GIRL clutched to my chest.
If you are interested in more detail about Gillian Flynn, here is more background about her, written in her own words.
(Note: She pronounces her first name with a hard G. As in gill, like a fish.

Kay Kendall lives in Texas with her Canadian husband, three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. In her former life as a PR executive, Kay’s projects won international awards. And she studied lots and lots of history in school, and loves it still! In fact that's why she writes historical mysteries.