Tuesday, July 28, 2020
Monday, July 27, 2020
The Palmetto Chapter of Sisters in Crime and the Southeast Chapter of Mystery Writers of America were delighted with the response to Mystery in the Midlands. We started off with a terrific panel on short stories featuring John Floyd, Tara Laskowski, and Art Taylor. Among them, those talented writers have been nominated and are recipients of the Agatha, Anthony, Derringer, Edgar, Macavity, and Thriller for their short stories. All of them have been involved with editing anthologies and preparing collections of their own work.
Listeners had many questions for this panel and links were left in the chat line to a number of excellent sources for short story writers.
|Clockwise from upper right: Dana Kaye, Moderator, John Floyd, Tara Laskowski, and Art Taylor|
The Short Story Panel from Mystery in the Midlands
Photo by Kathryn Prater Bomey, shared by Tara Laskowski
Friday, July 24, 2020
dog-mom, horse servant and cat-slave,
Lover of solitude
and the company of good friends,
New places, new ideas
and old wisdom.
Some things have confused me for a long time, such as why flowers are beautiful and spiders are not.
What is beauty anyway? And is there any importance in asking or answering that question?
Obviously, there are some people who find spiders beautiful (yes, really), so the quality is not inherent in the object. I lost my father after a long illness and was thinking about my loss while walking to the mailbox. A crop of slender blue wildflowers on the road’s edge caught my eye, their beauty an instantaneous salve to my grief.
Somewhere in the heart of a forest, an exquisite orchid is blooming, and no one is there to see it. Is it beautiful? No. Beauty is, indeed, in the eye of the beholder. Without the eye, it does not exist. The orchid exists, of course, but it is not “beauty” to the creatures that see or smell it. (I should caveat with "as far as we know," because we are learning that our ideas of awareness and even intelligence may extend in some manner to the plant world and certainly to the animal world, but let us assume that the concept of "beauty" is a human construct. )
This means if no human notices the wildflowers and deems them beautiful, they are just wildflowers doing their thing.
A sense of responsibility follows this thought.
Nature is harsh relentless change. It is "eat and be eaten." A frog makes no distinction between a caterpillar and a butterfly as far as lunch is concerned.In our stellar neighborhood, two galaxies are colliding, gravitational forces ripping apart whatever life may have painstakingly evolved. Our own galaxy is destined to collide with another, our sun to die, our loved ones, ourselves, our species unless we figure out how to move to another galaxy.
We may learn that whales or elephants or other animals share our awareness of mortality, but again, as far as we know now, people are the only creatures to seek meaning to life, perhaps because of that awareness. It is a burden. It is a privilege. In this chaos of change we call life, humans seek meaning, personal meaning.
The concept of beauty may be one of the unique perceptual structures of the human brain. Why did it evolve? Of what evolutionary value is it? Is it just that spiders pose a threat, so we instinctively recoil from them, while flowers pose no threat and may signal a source of food? Perhaps, but some people truly find spiders fascinating and beautiful. There are spider enthusiast groups. Honest. And I have to admit I found one that gleamed with gold on a spectacular web yesterday. So beauty is a learned thing.
Perhaps the concept of beauty is just an odd byproduct of the complexity of our minds, our thought processes. Or perhaps not. Perhaps it came into being to give us something we crave—meaning.
I have been told that my book, Noah’s Wife, was “beautifully written.” This was welcome feedback, but puzzling. The story is told from the unique perspective of a young woman with what we now call Asperger’s Syndrome. She sees the world in literal terms. Looking at her straightforward words on the pages, I was befuddled at how they could be considered “beautiful.”
But perhaps it is not the words themselves, but the fact that they create meaning for some readers, truths about being human and that renders them beautiful in the same way that Picasso’s art is beautiful to some eyes. His paintings force us out of our typical perceptions, whispers in ways we may not be able to voice, even disturbs, but speaks the language of meaning and (some) find that beautiful, even in the harshness or starkness of his lines, just as some find beauty in abstract art or different types of music . . . or spiders.
|Woman with Mandolin|
Beauty is observable by all our senses, including our ability to see a beautiful act of kindness or a beautiful scientific formula. If we are uniquely capable of determining beauty, then we have a responsibility to see it, to open our eyes to it, to find meaning in it, our uniquely human meaning.
T.K. is a retired police captain who writes Books that go wherever her interest and imagination take her.
Thursday, July 23, 2020
A Book Review written by Juliana Aragon Fatula of A Taco Testimony Meditations on Family, Food and Culture by Denise Chávez
Wednesday, July 22, 2020
🏴☠️💖 All retailers: https://books2read.com/LoveTreasure
🏴☠️💖 Amazon: https://amzn.to/2UGfWuG
Chase Regard is captain of the nearly-historically-accurate pirate ship Cupid’s Revenge, a pirate-themed restaurant and dinner show, and the mountain of debt that came with both. But Chase has an ace up his sleeve: his ancestor left a heap of treasure somewhere on the coast near Ashville, Oregon. All Chase needs to find it is the help of the red-headed, fiery, and occasionally forgetful, academic Dr. Jenna Mackenzie, the director of the Ashville Museum. But when Chase and Jenna team up they must face the town’s history-buff bully, accusations of theft, and an oncoming storm before they find out that X marks the spot for love and treasure.
**is the award-winning author of the Carrie Mae Mysteries, San Juan Islands Mysteries, Shark Santoyo Crime Series, and numerous short stories. When she's not traveling to exotic lands, or kicking some serious butt with her black belt in karate, she can be found chasing her daughter or glued to the computer working on her next novel. You can also catch up with her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and BookBub.
Monday, July 20, 2020
For the last two years, the Palmetto Chapter of Sisters in Crime and the Southeast Chapter of Mystery Writers of America have sponsored a mid-summer conference for readers and writers in "famously hot" Columbia, S.C. While we had to cancel our in person gathering due to Covid 19, our third venture as an online conference, to be held on Saturday, July 25, 2020, looks to be a charm with a terrifically HOT lineup and a program offered free of charge (thanks to Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America for generous support). Anyone can attend. You don't have to be a member of Sisters in Crime or Mystery Writers of America to join in the fun!
All you have to do is register at this link, then click through to the Crowdcast link to save your spot.
Today, Monday, July 20, 2020, is the last day to register! You don't want to miss this fabulous program hosted by Dana Kaye with books available through Jill Hendrix's Fiction Addiction Bookstore in Greenville, S.C.
Here's the schedule for Mystery in the Midlands, on Saturday, July 25, 2020:
Here's some information about our fabulous authors:
A former journalist, folksinger and attorney, Jeffery Deaver is an international number-one bestselling author. His novels have appeared on bestseller lists around the world, including the New York Times, the Times of London, Italy’s Corriere della Sera, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Los Angeles Times. His books are sold in 150 countries and have been translated into over twenty-five languages. He has sold 50 million books worldwide. The author of over thirty-five novels, three collections of short stories and a nonfiction law book, and a lyricist of a country-western album, he’s received or been shortlisted for dozens of awards around the world. His book A Maiden’s Grave was made into an HBO movie, his novel The Bone Collector was a feature release from Universal Pictures, and in 2019, NBC picked up a series called “Lincoln,” based on his books. Lifetime aired an adaptation of his The Devil’s Teardrop.
We hope that you'll all join us for Mystery in the Midlands, Saturday, July 25, 2020!
Friday, July 17, 2020
- Her typewriter is in the collection of the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History.
- She was an avid traveler and adventurer who trained as a pilot, traveling to South American archaeological sites before they were opened to tourists.
- In 1927, she was the first student, man or woman, to earn a master’s in journalism at the University of Iowa.
- She worked as a journalist for 50 years, mostly on the courthouse beat for the Toledo Blade.
- Her role as Carolyn Keene was kept under wraps until researchers uncovered the story in the 1980s.
Thursday, July 16, 2020
Remember an eternity ago (ie pre-pandemic) when you made New Year's Resolutions? How are you coming with yours?
One of my resolutions (the only one I actually remember and am still attempting) was to transfer the organization I always implemented in my day job to my writing life. Since my writing space and habits were a bit (cough, a lot) disorganized, I got together with some author friends. What quickly evolved was a set of writing tips. Many of these I’ve done without conscious thought. I’m attempting to be more mindful, however, and plan to use this structure as additional motivation to, as one friend puts it, finish the damn book.
Yes, as the launch activity for Calling for the Money wraps up (see below) I'm back at work on another story.
So, without further fanfare – the writing tips:
Ten – Make lists. Every day I make a list of the things I want to accomplish that day. (I’m not sure what it says about me that I love drawing a line through an item when it’s done.) The first line (every day but Sunday) is always, Write. Long-term-goals are listed on my white board: things I want to be sure I don’t forget, but I don’t have to do today.
Nine – Sprint. A group of us grabs our first, or next, cup of coffee and checks in, then we all ignore each other, turn off the internet and the phone, and work steadily for an hour. It’s a writing club, a mutual support group, and a fabulous technique for working without interruption. I write until I meet my word count goal for the day. (Thank Steven King for this one.)
Eight – Work on one series at a time. I try my best to immerse myself in one setting, one set of characters, one story, whether I’m working on a first draft or revising a draft. Avoiding the “new shiny” keeps me focused.
Seven – Finish what’s due first. Except #8 blows up sometimes. I’ll be in first draft mode on Pony Ring and edits will come in from Beaver Pond. Then there was all the activity around the launch of Calling for the Money. Whew! I operate on the First Due principle. I knock out the edits, because they’re due in a week or two, then get back to the longer work. The problem with doing that, of course, is getting back up to speed with the work-in-process, so I can re-immerse myself in that world.
Six – Take time away from the desk. By the end of a writing session, my creative brain is mush. I usually go for what I call my plotting walk, especially if I’m writing a first draft. There’s something about the rhythm of walking that brings the next scene or a plot problem into focus. It makes the dogs happy to get out of the house, too.
Five – Separate creative time from admin time. I’m most creative in the early morning, so I do my writing then. A corollary is, Keep creative time sacred. I don’t schedule anything else for mornings. I try to keep writing blog posts, scheduling author events, record-keeping, and all the other business stuff for the evenings.
Four – Work ahead. Know what you want to accomplish. I’ve written my goals for the year and set up a time table to implement them. That means I work now on upcoming items instead of waiting and scrambling at the last minute.
Three – Outsource what I can’t do. While I tinker with art and photo-editing, I know my limits with graphic design. I hire a wonderful cover artist. I like formatting my books, but it’s something I can do in the evening while my husband watches TV. The key point is identifying what I’m good at and enjoy, versus what I can outsource. Why waste time on things it would take me forever to do and rob me of the hours I need to do what I’m good at – writing stories?
Two – Stay healthy. I always have a full flask of water on my desk. Fluids in, fluids out. It makes me get up and move around every hour or so. And if I forget, my Fitbit buzzes at me with a reminder. I try to eat lean fresh foods, and I get regular exercise even if it isn’t always a sweaty gym workout. And the exercise doubles as creative time – see #6!
One – Butt in the chair, fingers on the keyboard. This is really the most important one. If I get distracted, schedule other things, or simply don’t do the writing, then…I’m not doing the writing. And that’s my job. Of all the varied jobs I’ve held, I’m lucky and blessed to have this one I love.
What tips can you add?
The launch tour for Calling for the Money is wrapping up, but there are still several ongoing giveaway signups. The entire tour is listed on my website (https://cperkinswrites.com) with assorted post, giveaways, reviews, and interviews.
Here are the remaining tour stops:
Sign up for her new release announcement newsletter in either place.
She's hard at work on sequel to The Body in the Beaver Pond, which was recently presented with the Claymore Award.