Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Clues

by Bethany Maines

Recently, I’ve been working on the sequel to my murder mystery An Unseen Current.  While thematically not that different from my other books (a young person struggles with unusual circumstances while navigating the choppy waters of family, love, and friends), mysteries bring a special level of challenge to the mix.  For one thing, people expect clues.  Oh, there’s a dead body?  Well, writer, where are the clues?  Chop, chop! Produce the clues!

However, it’s not just about clues; it’s about when to reveal those clues.  Too early and readers are bored because they already solved it.  Too late and it seems like the author is cheating and wedging information to justify who the killer is at the last second.  Then, even if the writer does pop a clue in the right place, she can’t be too precious about it.  The author can’t present it on a silver platter with a neon arrow stating: Clue Here!!  To accomplish the correct where and when of clue placement requires a stronger outline than other genres.  And that means that I must do what every writer hates doing—not writing.

Outlining and the synopsis are vital to a successful book.  But they aren’t the FUN part of writing.  The fun part is churning out scenes and spending time with the made up people who populate my brain.  Outlining requires problem solving and all the leg work of deciding back stories and motivations and the literal who, what, when, where and why of who was murdered. (It was Professor Plumb in the Library with the Candlestick, in case you were wondering.)  But mostly it leaves me thinking: Are we there yet? What about now?  Can I start writing now?

Fortunately, the answer is getting closer to being yes.  So wish me luck as I work out the kinks of how the dead body ended up behind a bar in Anacortes.


You never know what’s beneath the surface.
When Seattle native Tish Yearly finds herself fired and evicted all in one afternoon, she knows she’s in deep water. Unemployed and desperate, the 26 year old ex-actress heads for the one place she knows she’ll be welcome – the house of her cantankerous ex-CIA agent grandfather, Tobias Yearly, in the San Juan Islands. And when she discovers the strangled corpse of Tobias’s best friend, she knows she’s in over her head. Tish is thrown head-long into a mystery that pits her against a handsome but straight-laced Sheriff’s Deputy, a group of eccentric and clannish local residents, and a killer who knows the island far better than she does. Now Tish must swim against the current, depending on her nearly forgotten acting skills and her grandfather’s spy craft, to con a killer and keep them both alive.



***
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, June 26, 2017

Rambling

It’s my turn again and I have nothing. So I’m going to ramble a bit about nothing.

It occurred to me the other day that I’ve been to twice as many conferences this year than ever before. January I was in Honolulu, Hawaii with Left Coast Crime – had a blast and able to cross this trip off my bucket list. April saw me stateside in Bethesda, Maryland for the annual Malice Domestic Convention. This convention will always be in my heart as it’s the first reader/fan convention I’ve ever attended. The first week of June I was on a Marketing/Social Media panel at the one-day Mystery Writers of America/New York Chapter’s Fiction Writers’ Conference held in Stamford, Connecticut. That was a fun excursion as it was my first time taking Metro North and going to Stamford. Two weeks ago, I attended the Deadly Ink conference in Rockaway, New Jersey. This is mostly a writer’s conference but readers do attend. This was also the first time I took a different New Jersey transit train, normally I’ve traveled on the NE Corridor.


So if you’re counting I’ve been to four conventions/conferences so far and I’m not finished. Next up I’ll be in Toronto, Canada at Bouchercon and I’m looking forward to that and last but not least I will be attending for the first time, the New England Crime Bake conference held in Woburn, Massachusetts. They have pizza parties and I heard something about a red carpet.

So all in all, that’s six author/reader-related conventions this year and this does not include the book signings, the MWA monthly events where I get a chance to meet readers and authors. Oh there another conference, ThrillerFest which is held in NYC, I may not attend any events, but I do hope to meet up with authors. I already have a lunch set up with fellow Stiletto Gang member Kay.

Okay, I rambled enough and it was about something.

So do you have anything to ramble about?
What are you looking forward to?
What's on your bucket list?
 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Scams and Gullible Writers by Debra H. Goldstein


Scams and Gullible Writers by Debra H. Goldstein

How many times a week do you answer a phone call or read a news story or friend’s post and immediately know someone has been scammed? How many times do you ask yourself how can anyone be so stupid to fall for the “your computer is reporting a problem,” “You’ve been left a million dollars, but it will take you $5000 in handling fees to receive it,” or “I’ve been stranded in Timbuctoo, would you please send me $1000 to get home?” Most of these seem blatant – things we would never believe, but this weekend I realized the vulnerability associated with being scammed.

I had the privilege of moderating a “Being Published” workshop panel hosted by the Atlanta Sisters in Crime chapter. Our panel, composed of writers published by small and Big 5 traditionally published authors, was quite lively. Besides the technical aspects of writing the best book possible, revising it until it really is the best book possible, pitching and querying, agents, contracts, obligations to a publisher and marketing, we stressed avoiding scams and noted traditional publishers handle things without a financial investment by the author. After the panel, an audience member approached me and related how she wrote a book which was rejected by every agent and publisher she submitted it to except one house that loved it just as it was.

According to this author, the publisher promised, for a flat fee, to copyread it, give it a cover and ISBN, give her a certain number of hardcover and paperback copies, place it online as an e-book, and make it available for purchase from Amazon and other online distribution sources as well as their own catalog. She went with this publisher, but other than the copies purchased by friends and family, the book isn’t setting the world on fire, so she decided to bring more attention to her book by writing some short stories. She entered a few contests without success, but then found some other sources for short stories. Most asked for a hefty fee, but she was fine with that until she paid two fees but never received the promised links to upload her stories. That’s when she realized she might not be dealing with a legit publication.

My comment – “Don’t do those anymore! You’ve been scammed.”

I went on to explain that there may be a legitimate contest fee that is more like an administrative fee, but for regular publications – literary or mystery, there are many places to submit without paying a fee. Most reputable magazines and journals don’t charge. They also specify whether they don’t pay for stories published, pay in copies, or pay only x per word. These legit outlets can be found by networking with your friends to see where they are being published, joining groups that specialize in short stories in the genre you are writing, repeatedly checking free blogs that announce publication calls (My Little Corner - http://sandraseamans.blogspot.com/ comes to mind), or subscribing to a reliable service like Duotrope.

A few minutes later, another audience member shared his story with me. I was stunned. Both people were educated and intelligent, so how did they fall for very similar scams? Desperation. It is very easy when everyone says “No,” to take the easy way out. Writers want to see their work in print. To feel they have accomplished something. Consequently, many cave in a moment of weakness. In the end, being scammed can hurt in so many ways – financially, a record of poor sales, never being able to claim a first book again, or having a book or story published before it is ready giving you a cloud on your name. We all want success, but getting there means not being gullible. As writers, we are obligated to write the best book or story we can, but we also are obligated to wear a business hat to protect ourselves and our work products.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Clicking Our Heels - Our Favorite Numbers and Why


Clicking Our Heels – Our Favorite Numbers and Why 

Kimberly Jayne – My favorite number is 4.  Has been since I was a little girl.  It’s more meaningful now because I had four kids.  It’s even and sounds good rolling off the tongue. Four is me.

Paffi S. Flood – My favorite number is 13.  It’s my birthday and kids made fun of it when it landed on Fridays, so I decided to do the opposite and adopt it.

Dru Ann Love – The number 4.  It is an even number and my birth date.

Sparkle Abbey – We don’t really have favorite numbers.  Maybe if we played the lottery we’d have a different answer.  Right now, our favorite numbers are 9 and 10 because those are the numbers of the books that we’re currently writing.

Jennae Phillippe – I am terrible at favorite, so I have a list: 3, 7, 8, 9, 13, 42.  Each of them has a different reason behind it.  The most obvious ones are 3 and 7, as numbers that show up in stories over and over again; 13 because it is my lucky number, and 42 because of Douglas Adams.

Bethany Maines – 8.  Because I kick ass at Crazy Eights.

Paula Gail Benson – 4. It’s always been lucky for me.

Kay Kendall – My favorite number is eight.  I think I love the symmetry of how it looks as a numeral – 8.  My lucky number, however, appears to be seven.  Those are definitely two different things.

Debra H. Goldstein – 27.  It has a nice ring to it and is the date my twins were born.  I had a difficult pregnancy during which this type A person spent almost eight months counting the hours to viability.  They were born two days and seven hours after the point at which I had been assured they would have a good chance of surviving.