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Here are the upcoming WWK interviews for the month of July!
July 4th Christopher Huang, A Gentleman's Murder
July 11th V. M. Burns, The Plot Is Murder
July 18th Edith Maxwell (Maddie Day), Death Over Easy
July 25th Shari Randall, Against The Claw
Our July Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 7/7--Mary Feliz, 7/14--Annie Hogsett, 7/21--Margaret S. Hamilton, 7/28--Kait Carson.
Our special bloggers for the fifth Monday and Tuesday of July--Kaye George and Paula Gail Benson.
Please welcome two new members to WWK--Annette Dashofy, who will blog on alternative Sundays with Jim Jackson, and Nancy Eady, who will blog on every fourth Monday. Thanks for blogging with us Annette and Nancy!
Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:
Carla Damron's quirky short story, "Subplot", was published in the Spring edition of The Offbeat Literary Journal. You can find it here: http://offbeat.msu.edu/volume-18-spring-2018/
James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), was published on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here. He's working on Seamus McCree #6 (False Bottom)
Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:
Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.
Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in July 31, 2018.
Friday, July 20, 2018
Thursday, July 19, 2018
|The north side of my house with lots of hydranges|
|Two of my three chickens in their run.|
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Monday, July 16, 2018
The art of writing is both a joy and a business. On the days my ideas and words flow, I forget time and experience a state of euphoria. Unfortunately, the need to deal with finances, promotion, social media, and other tasks often dulls my creative abilities. When that happens, I get angry for not writing. Last week, I failed to write one word. I planned to, but things didn’t work out – even when there was an opportunity and time to write.
Being one who is not wild about a buffet, except for late night ice cream or pizza snacks, I was surprised she ranked it as her favorite thing on the ship. It was only after watching her walk from station to station picking out exactly what she wanted that I realized how wonderful the variety of food choices seemed to her. She only selected a little from here and a bit from there, but she knew her options were unlimited – and she relished that experience.
Writers begin with the ability to go in all directions, too. Unfortunately, deadlines, business needs, and even occasionally allowing oneself to become pigeonholed into a certain writing style, can make a writer forget to hold on to the sense of wonderment. I’m guilty of sometimes losing the joy and excitement I usually associate with the passion of writing – what about you?
Sunday, July 15, 2018
A continuing character in the Seamus McCree series is the self-styled “Happy Reaper.” He’s a hired killer who readers first meet in Ant Farm (#1). He returns in Empty Promises (#5) and plays a significant role in False Bottom (#6). [Projected publication date is late 2018.] He’s driven to be the best in the business, and, as we see in Empty Promises, he spends his down time honing his skills. I find one-dimensional hitmen boring. The Happy Reaper has a code of ethics—not like yours and mine, of course—but one he lives by. That makes him more interesting and allows readers and me to explore deeper issues incorporated in the struggle between him and Seamus.
The other killers populating the series are unprofessional. Killing for them is a means unto an end. Sometimes people find themselves backed into a corner and killing becomes (they think) their only way out. Readers can see alternatives, so my task as author is to make a death believable by providing sufficient motivation for the act.
Revenge, which I’ve used as the engine of hate (Bad Policy #2), can be particularly powerful. The event that triggered the revenge can be recent or distant. With distant events, the hurt has had time to fester in a warped mind, magnifying and intensifying the internal damage. I try to put myself in the minds of the killers, to feel their burning need to get even, so when I revel the killer and motivation, the truth explodes on the page fully formed. It’s also important to lay the groundwork in earlier chapters. The reader may be surprised by who done it, but it shouldn’t come as a total shock because the clues were there.
The most frightening people for me are those who rationalize that killing others is justified to bring about a better world. Because I fear it, I am also drawn to explore it, which I did in Cabin Fever (#3). To write these killers, I must understand their motivation. I block out my abhorrence for their fanaticism and allow them to explain to me what they find so important about their goals that they can justify using murder as a tactic. Once we’ve had that discussion (all occurring in my head—what does that say about me?), I can allow the character to present his perspective in the novel through his acts, conversations with others, and internal dialog. Understanding the character’s ambition makes their amoral aspect feel more believable when he appoints himself judge, jury, and executioner.
Being able to glimpse the killer’s motivation from their own perspective is one reason I often prefer reading and writing suspense compared to a traditional whodunit. How about you?
Saturday, July 14, 2018
I swear I see this quote at least once a year. It soothes my raggedy soul every time. Quiets the voice that plagues my writing hours. Well, technically, all my hours. The one that says, “You really don’t know where this is going, do you?” AKA “You really don’t know what you’re doing, do you?” Unsettling either way. There’s no point lying to that voice. It knows what I’m thinking. It is what I’m thinking.
The other thing this quote tells me is that E.L. Doctorow was a Pantser, i.e., he wrote by the seat of his pants. Us Pantsers are all driving home more or less down the same dark road. In an uncontrolled manner that would probably get us pulled over by officers of the law.
People who don’t write, or writers who don’t write this way—the “Plotters,” whom I admire, envy, and sort of pity, all at the same time—no doubt regard seat-of-the pants writing as horrifying. The mark of an undisciplined mind. Perhaps an unstable mind. I’ve seen how people look at the person who claims Pantserhood.
Here’s an example: Readers occasionally ask me how come I made Tom Bennington, the co-protagonist of my mystery series, blind. The simple truth is, “I didn’t make Tom blind. He was blind when I got him.” I can tell by their expressions that they find this pretty…odd.
Odd but true. My entire series was sparked by a scene that unfolded in front of me on the street one morning. Some thoughtless person beeped—in a careless, “C’mon, hustle-up” way—at a blind man crossing the street. And I said to myself, “’Wow. You know you live in a rough neighborhood when somebody honks at a blind man in the crosswalk.”
Fifteen minutes later I was home at my desk. Asking myself—or Whomever-or-Whatever watches over a writer of mysteries who doesn’t have a clue, a crime, or a protagonist—Who said that?”
At that moment all I had was a blind man frozen in a crosswalk in a—let’s just say, unruly—part of Cleveland and a woman’s voice. Over the next four or five hours, Allie Harper told me her name and that she was lonely and broke. She also said this particular blind man was the great, smart—also handsome and hot—guy she’d been waiting forever to meet, and it made absolutely no difference to her that he was blind.
Then I realized, as we went along in the first chapter on that first day, that the winning $550 million MondoMegaJackpot ticket in Tom Bennington’s grocery bag—the one he bought to prove to a kid that gambling doesn’t pay—would provide the motive, means, and opportunity for murder and mayhem in my story. It was the best writing day for me. Magical. Mystical. Hair-raising. Fun.
Too bad it’s not always like that. Writing happens many different ways. Sometimes it’s ugly and slow. Sometimes nobody shows up. Or they speak only in stupidities. Sometimes at the end of the day I roll down my Pantser-car window and fling a few pages back into the night.
As I progress to the third book in my series and deadlines are more inexorable, I notice I’m exploring the “Plotter Dark Side.” Maybe there’s a hybrid for my road trips. Maybe it would be more…economical. So every now and then I give the possibility a test drive. I have always written a final scene for whatever story I’m working on, usually in the first couple of weeks. I don’t have a map, but I have a destination. It beckons to me, like my mother’s phone calls used to, “When will you get here? Where are you now?” I experiment with lists. I make more notes. I had a flirtation with 3x5 cards. (Nonstarter.) I listen to my characters and if they give me clues, I write them down.
It’s always a journey, isn’t it? We do it like we do it.
For the record, I’m painfully aware the road E.L. Doctorow was driving down was a better quality road than mine. I read Ragtime and I’ve listened to him talk. Also, Doctorow’s literary car was equipped with strong batteries and excellent headlights. I’ve got the penlight they give out for free as swag at conferences. Good to have, but it’s not going to show me the way to Ragtime. I imagine, though, that E.L Doctorow, Pantser Extraordinaire, occasionally discarded a couple pages of a story on the road behind his car.
I bet he looked back for a moment, until the darkness swallowed them. Then drove on.
Readers: Are you a Pantser? A Plotter? Or a Pantser/Plotter Hybrid? How come?