Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.
KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.
Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!
Look for Kaye George and Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Kaye's story is "Life and Death on the Road" and Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."
Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, was released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here from April 29th.
Kaye George's second novel in the Vintage Sweets mystery series, Deadly Sweet Tooth, was released on June 2. Look for the interview here on June 10.
Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.
Saturday, June 30, 2012
Friday, June 29, 2012
Does this help?
Thursday, June 28, 2012
As you are reading this, I am either frantically doing last minute cleaning, or food preparation, or if you're reading this later in the day, I'm finally enjoying the meeting of my Red Read Robin Book Club. Hopefully, a few times during the day I'll find time to check out what's been posted and respond to it, but not as often as I should. Someday, I always tell myself, I'm not going to be like Clara Morrow, one of Louise Penny's main characters with hair in disarray and chocolate on my face. I'm going to have my house in order; food prepared ahead of time and graciously greeting my guests and be totally relaxed. I won't even see a stray spider web hanging from a beam in my kitchen because there won't be one there. Someday, I tell myself, when I'm a well-read author and have enough money from the sale of my books, I'll have a cleaning person and maybe a caterer to bring in food. I think I might have mentioned before that I'm an optimist and try to ignore the realist who perches on my left shoulder, snorts and says, "Ain't gonna ever happen."
All the years I taught, I dreamed of joining a book club, but didn't know of any. Besides, I wouldn't have had time to join one if I could find one. Then four months after retiring, I was in the Brew Basket with some friends and saw a notice on the counter announcing a new book club being formed. It was to meet in the Brew Basket Cafe' on the third Thursday morning of each month. The first book to be discussed was The Lovely Bones by Alice Siebold. I'd already read the book, but was willing to read it again to discuss it with others. Many of those who came to the first meeting are still together after almost five years. New ones have joined and a few have left, but those who remain have become good friends.
Then four months later, a friend I'd graduated with many years before, asked me to join a book club being started. It was the Red Read Robin Book Club which I'm hosting tonight. Half this club's members are related and/or go to the same church I do. One comes from 50 miles away to attend our meeting. Unlike the first one I joined, this one doesn't meet in a cafe', but mostly in the homes of members. If a member doesn't have room or care to host the meeting, she chooses a restaurant instead. The hostess having the meeting at her home furishes a meal that always includes wine. Often the hostess serves food which in some way relates to the book. For instance, when The Help was the book being discussed, everyone laughed when dessert was chocolate pie. Those who have read the book or saw the movie will know why we laughed. The first book chosed by the Red Read Robin group was To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It had been at least 30 years since I'd read the book and what a wonderful discussion we had. We hated to end the evening.
For tonight's meeting, I chose Still Life by one of my favorite authors, Louise Penny. After we've eaten - some outside on the patio, a table under the trees, or in my library at a large table there, we'll settle down with wine or coffee in the living room to discuss the book. I have a few questions to start the discussion, and then I've planned something else. I'm telling the group I've chartered a bus to take us for a long weekend to Three Pines, the location in the book. Since Olivier and Gabri won't have enough room in their B&B for all of us, I've asked Louise Penny if she'd contact the residents of Three Pines to see if any of them would put us up for a few days. She did, and they quite graciously agreed to it. Tonight we'll discuss who they want to stay with and why they chose that particular character. I'm hoping Penny's characters have become as real to them as they have to me. Of course, this is the third time I've read this book, plus I've read all her other books, too, so I feel I know each of her characters quite well.
Book clubs have enriched my life in many ways. They've brought new friends into my life who I feel quite close to now. Our discussions bring out insights into each reader. How they feel about certain books or characters and why, show something about who they are. Book clubs have widened my reading. I've always been a eclectic reader, but mysteries are my favorite and not often picked for either book club. Instead, the books have spanned a wide spectrum both fictional and non-fictional; books I might never have read if they hadn't been a book club pick. Unlike discussing a favorite book I've passed on to a family member or a friend, we're discussing books we've all read in the same time frame so our discussions are fresh and often lively. Even though I haven't liked every book chosen, I've been enriched by the wide range of books I've read through my book clubs and even more by the discussions we've held.
Do you belong to a book club? If not, what aspect of a book club do you think you'd like?
If you've read any of Louise Penny's books (and if you haven't, you should) which character would you like to meet or stay with on a weekend visit to Three Pines?
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Anyway, I've lately come to realize that it gets harder for people to buy me things, the older I get. I'm making a decent wage at my day job now. I'm living with my fiancé (soon to be husband), and we're sharing the bills. So I have enough money to buy the things that I truly need, or even want on a day to day (or month to month) basis. However, I still don't want to receive gift cards from people who've known me for years; it still feels impersonal to receive one.
- More time to write.
- Online grammar classes, so I can learn this stuff without having to finger through multiple manuals.
- More discipline, so I can make better use of the time I DO have for writing.
- Grammar classes in a mortar and brick building. I'd LOVE to get college credit for something like this.
- A critique group in my neck of the woods, so we can meet in person.
- A grammar and punctuation cheat sheet - one page of easy-to-read pointers.
- A dedicated area for my writing.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
I remember the first time I declared myself to be a writer. I needed information from the nearby Meeting of the Society of Friends. The characters I was writing at the time were Quakers, and had been members of that meeting. I called and asked if they there was a local historian. I paused, took a deep breath and said “I am a writer looking for background.” From the time that book came out, I considered myself to be a writer and found it perfectly easy to say.
It was easier to convince the woman on the phone than some of my fellow writers.
When I told a friend, we’ll call her X, that I had been selected to be on a panel at a writer's workshop, she said "they will let anyone onto their panels.” Clearly she didn't consider me to be a real writer.
At the time I wondered what would make me a "real" writer in her eyes.
Yesterday I received an email from Y, a member of my critique group, saying that her story had to be shortened by 1500 words, and X. had told her she should show it to me. X. was sure I would be very helpful.
When did I cross the line from non-writer to writer in X’s estimation? More important, how had I changed her perception of me?
There are several possibilities.
I am persistent. Since the first remark, I have had several more short stories published and I go on writing them. Rejections have not discouraged me.
I have given several presentations at local meeting on writing short stories and taking criticism. My first few presentations were not related directly to the process of writing, but to background, one on the psychology of the victim, perpetrator, rescuer triad, central to most mysteries. One was on how historical characters dress. When I started presenting more writerly topics, I gained a bit of respect.
I have worked on three anthologies, not just submitting stories but compiling the manuscripts working on the submission process and screening submissions.
I attend at least two writers' conferences a year.
I started and maintained a critique group when I couldn’t find on that met my needs. I have been in one critique group or another for over a decade, but being in an all mystery group has upped my credibility a tad.
I learn from criticism. In this particular case, I think this made the biggest difference in the way X perceived me. She offered a way to improve a story she was editing for me. I took the suggestion, agonized over it for a week or so. I finally decided that I couldn't make the change and I would pull the story. That's when the answer came, and with a few words I changed the story from ordinary to exciting.
Do I care what she thinks of me? No. I have received validation from other writers whose opinions I value more. She is an inconsistent and biased yardstick. But it's good to have such a tough critic admit I have arrived.
Monday, June 25, 2012
I’m unsatisfied with the results of my review, not because of the conclusions I’ve drawn, but because of the form in which I’ve chosen to document them. My manuscript is