If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

October Interviews
10/2 Debra H. Goldstein, Two Bites To Many
10/10 Connie Berry, A Legacy of Murder
10/17 Lida Sideris, Double Murder or Nothing
10/23 Toni L. P. Kelner writing as Leigh Perry, The Skeleton Stuffs A Stocking
10/30 Jennifer David Hesse, Autumn Alibi

Saturday Guest Bloggers:
10/5 Ang Pompano
10/12 Eyes of Texas Anthology Writers
10/19 Neil Plakcy

WWK Bloggers: 10/26 Kait Carson


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Lyrical Press will publish Kaye George's Vintage Sweets mystery series. The first book, Revenge Is Sweet, will be released in March. Look for the interview here on 3/11.

Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!

Susan Van Kirk's A Death At Tippett Pond was released on June 15th. Read E. B. Davis's interview with Susan.

KM Rockwood's "Frozen Daiquiris" appears in The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense, edited by Judy Penz Sheluk. The anthology was released on June 18th.

Fishy Business anthology authors include KM Rockwood, Debra Goldstein, and James M. Jackson. This volume was edited by Linda Rodriguez.

Please read Margaret S. Hamilton and Debra Goldstein's short stories (don't ask about their modus operandi) in a new anthology, Cooked To Death Vol. IV: Cold Cut Files.

Warren Bull's Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories was released. It is available at: GoRead: https://www.goread.com/book/abraham-lincoln-seldom-told-stories or at Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ydaklx8p

Grace Topping's mystery, Staging is Murder was released April 30.


Monday, May 4, 2015

Dealing with the Past

Recently, as I returned from a business trip out of town and settled into a grueling schedule of physical therapy to try to regain full use of my right hand, I received word that my father had died unexpectedly. I had two books to write, as well as freelance assignments to complete. I had a book tour to schedule. But suddenly, I was dead in the water, spending my days in my pajamas and managing only to keep up the intensive physical therapy, primarily because someone was waiting for me with the meter ticking.

My father and I had been estranged for many years. He had problems with alcohol, gambling, women, and violence. He made my childhood a hell in many ways. He also taught me to read and write at a very young age, turned me on to Shakespeare and Dickens before I started school, taught me that all people had a right to be treated equally, and encouraged me to write from my first poem written before kindergarten. Much of the good I am as a person today is due to his influence. Many of the problems I’ve dealt with through the years are due to the emotional and physical damage he caused me.

Suddenly, all these conflicting memories and emotions from the past were colliding inside me, as I dealt with the legal and logistical aspects that a death in the family always brings. My books, my list of tasks that had to be done, all of these were going nowhere.  A dead man had reached from the past to grab me by the throat and insist I deal with all of this right now.

These kinds of events and issues are the bane of the writer. We may be able to keep going through illness and injury, but the emotional whammy of the severe illness or death of some family member can throw us right off the tracks. It’s that combination of present worry or grief combined with past issues of emotional intensity that can make it impossible to write or do much of anything else.

The only way I know to deal with it is to keep trying, to keep going through the motions, and one day the emotional pressure releases just enough to get a page or two down. That’s the beginning, and it gets better from there. I’ve lived long enough, gone through this process enough, to know this and to just keep trying in despair and barrenness. The work can see you through anything—even if it looks like the work is not being done—as long as you are sitting down to do it.

Neil Gaiman has famously said, "When things get tough, this is what you should do: Make good art. I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician — make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor — make good art. IRS on your trail — make good art. Cat exploded — make good art. Someone on the Internet thinks what you’re doing is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before — make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, eventually time will take the sting away, and that doesn’t even matter. Do what only you can do best: Make good art. Make it on the bad days, make it on the good days, too."

And, as usual, Neil is right.


E. B. Davis said...

Oh, Linda. We've had a few discussions about your past, and although there are similarities in our backgrounds, your childhood was more severe than mine. I thought your father was dead. Since my mother died in 2004 and my father in 2012, I've been dealing with the issue of forgiveness. I'm not there yet.

I created a MC with parental issues that are more devastating than mine. She has to come to terms with her past and parents. The only way she knows to do that is through forgiveness--but maybe due to my dithering, so far she hasn't been able to forgive either.

Putting all those dilemmas in your books can help work out the problems, I think--sometimes I wonder if it is me running away from the problem. But I have to solve the mystery for my MC. Funny how you can step up for your MC, but in your own life, it's a bit harder.

Not that I'm endorsing procrastination, but healing your body first is important. You've had to overcome too much lately. Go easy. The problems won't disappear, but you may be able to rectify them better later.

Margaret Turkevich said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Rest, sleep, take care of yourself. Grief is exhausting. Day by day, it will all get done.

Warren Bull said...

Sometimes when grieving with someone's death I also have to deal with the loss of what the person could have meant to me and never did. As Margaret said, please take care of yourself physically as part of the healing process.

James Montgomery Jackson said...

Neil's advice is often easier to say than to execute. Sending white light and healing thoughts in your direction.

~ Jim

Shari Randall said...

Oh, Linda, all that you've been through and are going through is heart wrenching. I hope you will be able to take the rest you need. You've already gone through so much - your resilient spirit is an inspiration.

Gloria Alden said...

Linda, unlike you I had a good childhood, but I've certainly dealt with things that were equally as bad as an adult. Create art, whatever kind of art feels best is the way to go. After my 18 year old son died of cancer in my art, I decided to go to college and become a teacher. That helped the healing process as well as writing, writing, writing for the numerous literature and writing classes I took. I also write, and am still writing poetry about my son. I also had a 31 year marriage break up when he had some sort of midlife crises. Poetry helped then, too. At my age I've dealt with more losses; parents, a six-year old granddaughter, the brother closest in age and memories to me, and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins that were a part of my life. I am so glad I can turn to writing for these losses.

My thoughts and prayers are with you Linda. You WILL get through this.

Sarah Henning said...

I've been thinking about you, Linda. I think you have the best outlook you can on this. Use all that awful emotion and make the best art of your career. I know you will!

Linda Rodriguez said...

Elaine, I've gone the other direction and given my protagonist easier problems with her parents, probably to keep the books from being too dark.

Perhaps forgiveness is less the issue than acceptance. That's what I'm working on first, at least.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Thank you, Margaret.

Warren, you're right. If people who hurt us in childhood were just evil monsters, we could write them off as we grow up, but when they're a mix of good and bad, sometimes very bad, there's always the question of why? Why couldn't they stay good? Did we do something that made them so bad?

Linda Rodriguez said...

Thanks for the healing light, Jim. Neil's advice is hard to do, but I've learned over time how true and useful it is.

Shari, I'm pretty much failing at being an adult right now, letting commitments and other demands fall by the boards. Just trying to focus on the physical therapy, all this damned inner work that's been suddenly forced on me, and the current book. Going nowhere with that last, but showing up--and I know that means that eventually I will get somewhere with it.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Gloria, you have come through so much. I cannot imagine how devastating the loss of a child or grandchild must be.

Sarah, I'd like to burn it as fuel. that's really the only way I'd like to use it, just send it up in flame. ;-)

And can anyone tell me why we've gone to the dreadful photo Captchas? Those photos are so small I can hardly tell what they're supposed to be.

Kara Cerise said...

I'm so sorry, Linda. Sending healing thoughts and gentle hugs to you. Take care of yourself!

The grainy Captcha photos confuse me too.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Thanks, Kara. It's good to know that it's not only me that finds the photo Captchas more difficult.

KM Rockwood said...

How brave of you to continue on in the face of such difficulties. I am sure your father, regardless of your relationship (or lack of) with him, was and is proud of your accomplishments.

I know the people who caused me so much pain as a child loved me. Sometimes when I try to deal with the emotions, I think about how much they must have been hurting to do such hurtful things to a child the loved, and realize much of it was due to the way they were treated as children. I have tried to stop the cycle.

Linda Rodriguez said...

KM,I try to remember how young they were when they were doing those things. So very young!

Anonymous said...

You, and Neil, inspire me . . . and you do have a very good point. I wrote poems after my mom's death, and those poems have helped me and others to whom I've sent them. Gentle hugs to you and much love.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Mary, I don't deal with my childhood issues much in my mystery novels, other than the good parts like my grandmother. I have written poetry about some of it. Those poems, especially one about a PTSD flashback called "P.O.W.,", always get a lot of response from audiences and readers.