Monday, December 3, 2007
Learning to Get Lost in A Good Book
November 30, 2007
A few days ago Motoko Rich pondered "A Good Mystery: Why We Read" in the NYT.
"The gestation of a true, committed reader is in some ways a magical process, shaped in part by external forces but also by a spark within the imagination," writes Rich, who cites Alan Bennett's absolutely delightful recent novel The Uncommon Reader as an example of what happens when someone discovers the magic of reading (in this case, of course, uneasy lies the library card with those who support the crown).
I've been asking a lot of questions this week about what you read this year, and I've heard some great answers. I've also told you a little bit about how pleased I am that my own daughters seem to be on their own paths to becoming "true, committed" readers. Since I know that my readers are readers, today's question: what was the book (your first, your fifteenth, the last one you read) that crystallized your commitment to reading?
It's not necessarily an easy questin to answer, especially since, like me, many of you have been reading steadily since an early age. But if I absolutely had to give an answer, I would point not to a single celebrated work of children's lit (which is what you might expect), but instead a humble row of biographies in my elementary school library. When I was in second grade, that row (I can still see it in my mind's eye -- the volumes were several different colors, including orange, yellow, green, and blue) represented a sure thing. I loved learning about a new person's life each time I checked one of them out.
What was your moment of reading magic?
Posted by Bethanne Patrick on November 30, 2007 Comments (6)
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
The mid-Michigan Writer's group is a sophisticated and well disciplined organization. They've been around a long time and have polished their act to a beautiful shine. This is a class assortment of diverse writers. You can learn more at www.midmichiganwriters.org
Now it's on to my next adventures.
In February I'll be attending the "Love is Murder" mystery writer's conference in Chicago. It's a three day, high intensity affair bringing together high visibility authors, literary agents, publishers, and a few small fish like me.
In March Saginaw Valley State University's college of lifelong learning has asked me to conduct a three part seminar for seniors on the ins and outs of writing and getting published. I'll post more details as they become available.
Sometime between now and next June I'll also be doing a presentation to the Grayling, Michigan Rotary Club. Information should be forthcoming soon on that gig.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
As a side note, I hshould let you know that the Bellini's are mentioned in this book, but I don't think there are any major speaking parts, nor anything regarding their story and I think Sheriff has a walk in role. Henry the morgue guy appears in another book as well, but right now I couldn't tell you which one he appears in.
These are just the first seven chapters, but I wanted to see if you guys like it. Regina is my typical innocent but smart girl and then the guy, well, I’m still trying to make my mind out about him.
If if sounds interesting, I might finish or I might change the characters. I know the rest of the story already in my head, but I thought I'd test this with you first.
I'd also like to know if you can come up with a better title. I'm not feeling this one and I would love for someone to give me something unique and just would hook me totally.
Winner gets a free book of Secrets, Lies & Family and when this book is released you'll be given a code to get a free book when I ship your initial book. (Must produce the code to get the book.)
Friday, October 5, 2007
Court TV is hosting its Search for the Next Great Crime Writer Contest on Gather! This is a crime/mystery writer's chance at a dream: a publishing and distribution contract with Borders, including a $5000 cash advance! It'd be a crime not to enter.
learn more »
more: contests writing books
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
What made you decide to write mysteries?
I love mysteries of all kinds books, movies, even real life mysteries. Since there aren't many black mystery writers on a whole, and even fewer with a single black woman as the protagonist, I decided I would make my contribution to the mystery genre by writing the kind of book I would enjoy reading myself.
Is Kendra anything like you?
Kendra and I share the same taste in music. We both love old school R & B. Like Kendra, I used to work for a GED program, and we both grew up in Ohio. But, beyond that, we're quite different. I'm not quite as cheap as she is and she's a lot braver than me. I could never do some of the things she does to get the answers she needs. Plus, she's had more boyfriends than me.
What was the inspiration for your first book, THE COMPANY YOU KEEP?
There was a story in the news several years ago about women who had been romanced by a man who broke their hearts and ran off with their money. I got to thinking about what would happen if a man like that ended up dead with all the women he hurt as the suspects. It kind of took off from there.
Is Willow a real town in Ohio?
No. Willow is actually a combination of two places: Athens, Ohio, where I went to college, and my hometown of Springfield, Ohio.
What mystery writers have inspired you?
I'm a huge fan of Barbara Neely's Blanche White series, and I adore Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins and Paris Minton series. I also love Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books. There are so many other writers who've inspired me that I don't have room to name them all.
What is your writing schedule like?
I work full-time so I try and write at least a few hours or 1,000 words a day. Having deadlines that have to be met has helped me be more productive but I'm still not as disciplined as I should be when it comes to my writing.
Why do you think there are more mysteries by African-Americans being published in recent years?
The bottom line is money. Publishers finally realized that black people read and saw that there was a huge untapped market.
How hard was it for you to get a book deal?
Very! I started writing THE COMPANY YOU KEEP in October of 1995. I finished it in early 1999. I went through two literary agents and finally was offered a book deal in January of 2004 By BET Books. Altogether that's nine years of writing, submissions, and rejections before finally
getting an offer.
What made you hang in there and not give up?
I truly believed in my first book. I knew there was a market for it. I got a lot of positive feedback from the people who read it. I figured maybe the timing wasn't right when it didn't sell right away.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Expect rejection and criticism and try not to take it personally, study your market and the publishing business in general, read other books in your genre, write often, join some writers groups, and don't give up.
Are there more Kendra books in the works?
Yes. I signed a new three book deal last year. So, there will be at least 6 books in the series.
Monday, September 24, 2007
I'm excited because I hadn't made up new and fresh characters in a while (been doing a lot of sequeling) so given this opportunity to come up with something difficult, I jumped on the challenge and decidedto bring my readers Gwenyth, the hardest working single mother and a plot with a heck of a twist.
They say revenge is a dish best served cold....
Diary Entry for August 15th:
Brown skin like hot chocolate about to melt. So delicious looking I want to lick it off.
This was Gwenyth's birthday entry into her sex diary - writing she kept to sate her while the father of her daughter is in jail on murder charges. Yet when the charges are dropped and he is due to be free, Gwenyth finds herself wondering does she really want to go back with him?
Fear keeps her from venturing to another man until...
Her diary is lost and the finder knows who she is and gives her the option to fulfill one fantasy with no strings attached. As horny as she is, she's willing to take him up on his offer and give her sexually sweet justice.
But will she live to write about it?
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Monday, September 3, 2007
Just to let everybody know of some local book events that are happening shortly that I will be involved in.
Saturday, September 8, 2007, 11:00 AM
Mystery Author Brunch
Orion Township Library
825 Joslyn Road
Lake Orion, MI 48362
Saturday, September 8, 2007, 1:30 PM
Mystery Author Event
Romeo District Library
65821 Van Dyke
Washington, MI 48095
Sunday, September 9, 2007, 3:00 PM
Ann Arbor, MI
I will be moderating a panel called "Original Voices in Mystery Fiction."
To find out more, visit their website at: www.kerrytownbookfest.org
Sunday, September 16, 2007, 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Local Authors Community Book Fair
The Ridgewriters Group of Farmington Hills
Spicer House in Heritage Park
Farmington Road just north of Ten Mile Road
Farmington Hills, MI
Hope to see some of you there!
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Our 2008 Guest of Honor is J.A. Jance, NY Times best-selling author of two well-established series, and three inter-related thrillers. Ms. Jance will also be receiving the Bloody Pen Award for her outstanding contribution to mystery fiction.
Instructing our Full-Day Master Class on Writing The Thriller is David Morrell, co-founder of the International Thriller Writers, and also a NY Times best-selling author with over 18 million books in print. Previously an English professor at the University level, Mr. Morrell's books are noted for their research, outstanding writing, and...of course...thrills.
We're expecting this conference may be our biggest yet. (The Master Class is co-sponsored by the International Thriller Writers, Inc.)
Authors and Experts--if you'd like to be a part of this "thrilling" line-up by giving a workshop or being on a panel (we offer compensation to presenters) please send us an application by going to www.murderinthegrove.com and clicking on the "Invitation to Speak" link. The deadline for applications is SEPTEMBER 30, 2007.
If you have any questions about the program or participating in it, please write to programs08@murderin thegrove. com. If you have general questions about the conference, you can write to info08@murderintheg rove.com or feel free to contact me at any time (joanne@joannepence. com).
The conference will be held in Boise, Idaho, June 6-7, 2008. Idaho is a beautiful state. If you love the outdoors at all, come and stay a while. You won't regret it. Also, if you'd like to find out a bit about the conference from those who have attended, check out www.murderinthegrov e.com/blogging. htm to see what others have written about it.
(Permission to forward this message is granted.)
THE DA VINCI COOK, Avon, March 2007
The Angie Amalfi Mysteries
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
They stopped her once before, but they’ll all fail the next time. . .
from Dark River: A Novel of Suspense
Find out what these cryptic words mean during the months of September and October 2007! You are cordially invited to visit with me, the author of Dark River: A Novel of Suspense. This blog kicks off a 6-week discussion leading up to the “death” of Celeste Fontaine, the “unknown” woman buried at Ste. Anne’s Catholic Church.
During this Virtual Book Tour, I will answer your questions about Dark River’s intriguing characters, including Isabelle Fontaine, Dr. Michael St. Vincent, Josie, Ned, Celeste Fontaine, Jacques, Louis and, of, course, Douglas. I will also discuss my 10 years’ work on this book. If you haven’t had a chance to read Dark River yet, you can still join in on the discussion, as I’ll also field questions on the suspense genre.
In addition to a fun discussion, there will be giveaways (free books, a “Celeste” candle, etc.) We’ll also post free excerpts. Look for photos of Dark River discussion groups. Let’s keep it easy—there are no set times for discussion online—post when you want, read when you want.
When your book club makes Dark River an official selection on your reading list, you can get discounted shipping on orders of ten books or more, as well as a free book discussion guide. Michigan book clubs are eligible for free delivery.
Monday, August 6, 2007
Thursday, July 5, 2007
The subject of book awards is a touchy one for crime scribes, many of whom have long nursed grudges against the bigger literary prizes. PD James and Ian Rankin have both complained that crime - not to mention other genre writing - is unfavourably overlooked in these matters. When he picked up his Nibby from Richard and Judy earlier this year, winning in the crime thriller category, Ian Rankin couldn't help but bring the issue up again.
Monday, July 2, 2007
My friend Andy Rosenbaum told me a while back that if my books were Klingons they wouldn't wait to be released, they would escape.
I think Andy has a point. And certainly, in my humble opinion, THE SERPENT'S KISS, is a Klingon type of book.
Bestselling author Tess Gerritsen said: "I can't remember the last time a thriller made my heart pound and my hands sweat, but The Serpent's Kiss did all that and more. This is a tense, high-octane read!"
The Midwest Review of Books said: "The story is a nail biting thriller that I couldn't stop reading. I loved the character of Derek Stillwater and how he cuts to the chase. I've put Mr. Terry on my list of favorite authors and look forward to reading his next novel in the series, Angels Falling. Other books by the author include The Devil's Pitchfork, Dirty Deeds and Catfish Guru."
Mark Terry says: "I agree. Thanks."
Monday, June 25, 2007
This is a subject matter most people tend to shy away from because no one really wants to admit they are in this paranoid category. However, if it is never pointed out or identified they may never reach his or her goal of becoming a published author. With that said, let’s get down to business.
The Paranoid Writer
What do you do when you complete your final draft of your manuscript? Do you immediately seek friends and family to read it to give their opinion? On the other hand, are you so confident that you hold a masterpiece in your hands that you want to submit it immediately to an agent or publisher? After several days, weeks or months, you’ve found that you’ve done absolutely nothing. Why? Because you’re afraid someone will steal your story. You’ve become so paranoid of that notion; your book is collecting dust in a desk drawer or closet.
Signs of a Paranoid Writer:
- You want to copyright it before it is read by anyone
- You join a writers group but won’t let anyone read it
- You won’t allow anyone beyond your spouse or close family member to look at it
- You start every conversation about your book with, ‘I’m hesitant to let anyone read…” or “I’m worried about someone stealing…”
- You write inside your query letter to the agent/publisher that you are worry about them stealing your work
- You avoid joining a writers group because you don’t want anyone to steal it
- You won’t even talk about the premise of your book to anyone
Questions you should ask yourself when hesitating:
- What’s the point of having a masterpiece if no one will ever see it?
- Do you really think that an agent or publisher wants to work with someone who’s going to constantly question their motives?
- Am I really so arrogant?
What can I do?
- First of all, there’s nothing wrong with a little paranoia. It’s very possible that there are people who would steal your story. Just don’t become so paranoid that your novel will never see the light of day.
- Get in your head that copyrighting the manuscript ahead of time is not only a waste of time (I’ll explain later) but may hamper your chances of getting it published; unless of course, you self publish your novel.
- A good writers group affords you the ability to do some needed editing. When self-editing, it is easy to missed minor mistakes, especially when the author has read his own manuscript half a dozen times already. Friends and family tend not to be honest with the author and keep their real opinion to themselves. A writers group can offer honesty.
- Publisher/agents will not work with authors they deem too much trouble to work with; it is neither appropriate nor condone to mention in either query letter or if you should make it that far, too say during a phone conversation.
- Lastly, if you won’t talk to anyone about what you have written, how can you test the waters to see if there is an interest in the subject matter you have written?
If any of the above does not help you at all, then perhaps you should consider self-publishing.
Note:Copyrighting – There are a couple of problems with copyrighting your manuscript before it is contracted. Number one, if any type of modification occurs within the book, the author must copyright it all over again with the changes. Two, publishers/agents are reluctant to work with an author if he has already copyrighted the book. Three, as soon as the author has written anything into the manuscript, it is considered copyrighted and is legally binding in a court of law. As long as the author has proof that he possesses the original, he is protected. (Never submit your only copy of the manuscript)
Monday, June 4, 2007
Before you start writing and definitely before you send your manuscript off to an agent or editor, think about the following eight elements of your work.
1. Is your main character proactive?
It's okay if your main character is a victim at the beginning of the novel, but they need to actually be doing something to solve their problem(s) by the end. And by the same token, the solution should come about as a result of their actions. The days of damsels in distress being rescued by the hero are over. Damsels rescue themselves. They might be hanging off a cliff by their fingernails or tied to the train tracks, but they'd damn well better be the primary reason they escape. That said, if you foreshadow a rescue properly, it's okay to have help. As those great sages, John, Paul, George and Ringo once said, we all can use a little help from our friends.
2. Are you using good verbs?
Verbs do all the heavy-lifting in our writing. Kill your adverbs and use good verbs. Your main character doesn't go get his mail. He plucks it from the mailbox, retrieves it from the post office, etc. Your car doesn't come to a stop. It rolls to a stop, lurches to a halt, or glides to rest. (And as for adverbs, your car doesn't need to roll smoothly to a stop if it can glide, does it?) You can solve at least half of your writing problems by replacing weak verbs with strong, active verbs.
3. Are you trying to entertain?
Shakespeare wanted to fill up his theater. Nobody at the Globe was saying, "Ooh, let's go catch Bill's play with all that beautiful language and the deep themes about action and inaction." Nope, they were saying, "Hey, I hear there's a great play with lots of swordfights, ghosts, murder, intrigue, sex and romance. It's called 'Hamlet.' Let's check it out." Entertain first. All that theme, message, blah, blah, blah comes second.
4. Is the length right?
If it's a first novel and it's 200,000 words in length, it's too damned long. Each category of fiction novel has an expected length. Romances tend to run short. Mysteries tend to run in the 70-90,000 word range. Thrillers overlap from the 85,000-120,000 length. There are a lot of factors here, but most beginning writers don't think too much about the fact that longer books cost your publisher more to produce. They're thinking about that when you send them a 150,000 word mystery; they're also thinking, nobody will buy it, it's too long.
5. Is there a market?
Okay, you want to be an artist and not worry about the market. I'm happy for you. Go away. You don't need to read anything about writing because you're probably going to self-publish and hand-sell books out of the trunk of your car. Original is good. Too original means the publisher's never seen it before and will probably say, 'hell, it's interesting, but who will buy it?' There are exceptions. And trends. Currently, there's a market for mixed-genre novels, those werewolf-time travel-romance novels. Go figure.
6. Did you start in the right place?
We're a short attention span group of readers. Did you start your novel in the right place? Lawrence Block often said you should flip your first and second chapters. What he meant is, if your first chapter is backstory and the action starts in the second chapter, start with the action--or in the middle of the action (in media res is the technical term) and fill in the backstory later. Many, many unpublished novelists start at the wrong place. Take a hard, cold look at your beginning and see if you've started at the right place.
7. Does your ending satisfy?
Are all the threads tied up? Does the reader come away feeling... something? Anything? Mickey Spillane once stated that the last chapter sold the next book. Believe it.
8. Is there conflict?
This is right up there with the right verbs. There are basically two types of conflict: internal and external. External are all the things that happen to your main character. That could be the murder they're trying to solve, the bad guy they're trying to stop, whatever it is that keeps the main characters from falling in love, etc. Internal conflict is whatever fears and/or problems your character must overcome to attain their goals. Ideally you have both. You can get away with just external in some sorts of fiction, but it's better if your character has to overcome something internal. I interviewed Michael Connelly (hear the name drop?) a couple years ago and I commented that one of the things I found most interesting about his main character, Harry Bosch, was he brought his own conflict with him just by the way he interacted with people. Michael said, "Have baggage, will travel. Yeah, Harry does bring his conflict with him, doesn't he?"
If you ever, ever hear an agent or publisher say, "Lacks tension," what they're probably referring to is lack of conflict (or in some cases, your verbs aren't active enough).
I hope these are helpful.
Friday, June 1, 2007
These are the classic makings of the traditional gothic story, a type of story that continues to thrill readers to this day. Dating back to the 1700s, gothic novels are suspense novels that frequently contain a romance element and a tinge of the supernatural. Readers love the combination of romantic intrigue with bumps in the night.
There is a clear distinction between gothic novels and horror novels: gothic novels have more to do with psychological horrors, horrors of the mind, or of family secrets, not so much the full-fledged creatures or serial killers of horror novels. They also deal with societal issues such as the rise of cities and how humans cope with modernity and science. Also, these novels get really popular during eras where there is considerable upheaval in the world, such as now, where people tend to reach for stories set in the past. Look at the box office success of recent films such as “The Others,” “The Illusionist” and “The Prestige,” all with elements of the supernatural.
I am a longtime fan of these stories, and my novel, Dark River, is part of this “resurrected” trend. Gothic novels never quite go away, but industry trends spotlight some fiction sub-genres over others. The past decade saw the rise of the crime procedurals, and all books with movie tie-ins. Romances were popular, as well, and still are. But gothics are always there, too, just lurking in the shadows.
While my new novel fits within the gothic tradition, Dark River is a modern gothic, even though it takes place in the past. Compared with early gothics in which young heroines were at the mercy of unseen forces and met destructive fates, Dark River’s heroine, Isabelle Fontaine, is reminiscent of the heroines in more recent novels of beloved authors of my youth. These two authors, Barbara Michaels and Phyllis A. Whitney made their heroines of the 1970s and 1980s spunky. My heroine, Isabelle, is concerned with getting to the truth of her family’s legacy, despite the great danger to herself. She refuses to leave the house until she solves the mystery.
Gothics will always be with us. We all have deeply hidden fears and desires, and gothics allow us to walk through the darkened halls of the characters’ psyches, thereby walking through our own. And it’s just plain fun to see how they [the characters] get out of their predicaments.
Heather Buchanan has always loved gothic stories. Inspired by a series of local articles about the little-known truth of an unknown dead woman buried at Ste. Anne Catholic Church of Detroit, Heather embarked on a ten-year odyssey to bring Dark River to life. An award-winning author, Heather is currently on the faculty of Lansing Community College, Schoolcraft College, The College for Creative Studies and Wayne State University, respectively.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
On May 24th, 2007 at 8PM EDT Author Access spoke with Chris Roerden, an Agatha-award winningauthor and editor with more than four decades of experience.
Her latest book is called"Don't Murder Your Mystery: 24 Fiction Writing Techniques To Save Your Manuscript From Turning Up D.O.A." She shared invaluable tips on how not to submit a manuscript,how to work with an editor, and many classic mistakes made on the first page and firstchapter that turn a possibly good book into unreadable mush.
Not just for Mystery writers,this is a must for all fiction writers.Listen to the f-ree podcast at http://authorsacces s.com/archives/ 52RSS podcast feed: http://authorsacces s.com/tinc? key=kBapKfgp
Sunday, May 6, 2007
I received my royalty statement on Saturday from my publisher (Midnight Ink) via my agent. (Finally). As royalty statements go it was reasonably straightforward. It was not accompanied by a check. That may or may not be coming in the near and/or distant future.
Here's what I mean. This royalty statement was for one book, The Devil's Pitchfork, my first book with MI, and the book came out October 2006. The royalty period that this statement was for runs from July 2006 through the end of December 2006. (And then you get the statement 3 or 4 or 5 months later and the money whenever). Therefore, any books that we might have sold after January first won't be accounted for until, well, whenever the next statements comes out. And that's sometime, uh, later; probably sometime in September.
Here's the deal. The next book, The Serpent's Kiss, comes out July 1, 2007. Therefore, sales for Serpent won't be on the royalty check/statement that comes in September either, because that's for the period January 1, 2007 through June 30, 2007. Monies for that, assuming there are any, will come... later.
Here's the deal part 2. I was paid an advance for both of those books. It wasn't astounding. Before I can get royalties, I have to have sold enough books to have paid off that advance. We actually probably have sold enough of The Devil's Pitchfork to pay off the advance, so, whenever we actually flow through to the proper royalty period, I should get some royalty money.
More of the deal part 3. Except, interestingly, I have sold French language rights for The Devil's Pitchfork. Because of my contract with MI, 50% goes to the publisher and 50% goes to me. (Don't nag me about this, I don't want to discuss it). The French language rights, I'm happy to say, were twice what MI paid me for the advance. In other words, the French language rights have paid off my advance for The Devil's Pitchfork, which means that we should automatically be into royalties... whenever they get accounted toward the sales and translated into a check, which is submitted to my agent, which then comes to me, and...
By the way, there are at least two other foreign language rights deals pending for both The Devil's Pitchfork and The Serpent's Kiss, but I can't really give any specifics because, a) I don't know any specifics, and b) my publisher seems to want to treat the details of foreign language rights deals like state secrets until the checks clear. (Don't nag me about this, I don't know why).
Anyway, the point is that there is an ebb and flow to the money aspects of publishing. As Rockefeller was known to have said when asked what the stock market would do, "It will fluctuate." Fluctuate, I sometimes think, is a euphemism for "be unreliable."
As a fulltime freelance writer, I pay a lot of attention to the tides of money. I have bills to pay--mortgage, car payment, insurance, and yes, that oh so important business Visa bill that pay for so much of the marketing/promotion for the novels. Multiple revenue streams is good, or at least, one good, large reliable revenue stream is good.
Last year I sent out about 200 invoices. This year, so far, about 10. I'm having a better year financially this year than last (which was pretty damned good, knock wood) but my business has changed. Now I'm doing fewer projects (often large projects) for more money. It's a toss-up if it's better. It can be a little disconcerting to get half of your yearly in come in the first three months of the year, and requires a significant amount of fiscal thought and responsibility.
What's my point? Well, sometimes novelists (aspiring or otherwise) think, "If I only get that big deal I'll be all set."
Hmmm. I'm no longer sure what a "big deal" is. It would take more to dazzle me than it used to, but hey, I'm willing to be dazzled. Come on, dazzle me.
I was just informed Friday that the publication date for the third Derek Stillwater novel, Angels Falling, which was originally scheduled for a February 2008 publication date, has been moved back to May 2008. What that will do to the tentative pub date of the 4th book, The Valley of Shadows, which is--as far as I know--scheduled for November 2008, is totally unknown to me, and, I wouldn't be surprised to find, to my publisher.
See what I mean? Hard to plan your finances around a moving target.
I pulled together some math for the would-be aspiring novelist. Congratulations, you've just gotten a $100,000 book deal. Here's what's likely to happen.
You'll get $33,333 on signing the contract. Your agent gets 15%. The government gets, approximatley, 28%. So what you'll have in your pocket is about $19,000. Then, depending on what your contract says, you'll get the next third when you turn in the first 100 pages. That could be very quickly, or, just as likely, you send it to your publisher, they read it at their leisure, they agree it's okay (or don't and ask for a rewrite) and submit an invoice to the comptroller who deals with these things the 15th of every month and they got it on the 16th, then they'll eventually cut the check and send it to your agent who is on vacation, or loses it, or it never get there at all, then he or she sits on it for a few days until they can get to the bank, then they send you your chunk, and you take out the taxes and put the rest in your... well, probably in your checking account, because you've got bills to pay, and your publicist wants some money to set up signings for you, and and the printer wants $500 to make up postcards, and there's going to be $1000 postage and the plane tickets to ThrillerFest are $380 and the hotel is $200 a night and you've got to eat and the entrance fee is...
Ahem. And you've got to complete the remaining 300 manuscript pages and get your publisher to sign off on it and they've got to cut the check, and wow, where did all that money go, it's all gone, I need another contract, I need another advance, my publisher's list is crowded they want to postpone the publication date for the second book by four months and...
Well. It's pretty cool. It just takes some getting used to.
Friday, April 20, 2007
In any case, I guess you're wondering why I titled my piece Hurt Her.
In all the books I've read, I rarely see the writer hurt the female in the book. Now there are some that have this tough female that "can take it just like any man," but I've really never seen a really gracious woman get really hurt.
Even though women can withstand pain far better than men.
So why is this?
Just like life, we (writers - male and female) tend to protect the fragile woman, but I don't think we should. If he can take a bullet, so can she in my opinion.
I'm not opposed to putting my female characters in great danger and hurting them even if they are pregnant, which the person trying to hurt them may or may not know.
A goal is a goal with the antagonist - hurt them. Not just him, them both of them (because usually I'm writing a romance and the couple comes together to defeat the foe).
In Stone's Revenge, I did receive angry letters at the way my hero treated my shero. William Stone was the son of a serial killer and affection to him was when his father slapped him around, beat him within an inch of his life and then locked him in a closet. I didn't see how I was going to get him to "be nice" now that he had met Abigail, the woman he was destine with, so how did the reader expect me to come up with a believable start to the relationship that had William coming out smelling like roses? It was in his nature to be mean, so I had to make their initial contact fit for William, not Abigail.
One reader said the partial forced sexed scene went a little bit too far and she could never understand how a woman could fall in love with a man after he did that.
I guess she's never had wrestle sex, LOL.
(I know that was crude.)
I stick to the nature of characters. I don't change just to make the reader happy.
Hurting my female protagonist is not some sick desire to make women suffer, (LOL) it's a desire to stay true to my story.
With this mixed with sticking to my character's nature has garnered me an unexpected success and a large following of readers that know when they open up my books, I will be true to the story til the end.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Tuesday, April 3, 2007
But I needed to support myself so I suppressed my desire to write while I got a thirty-plus year career in the automotive industry out of the way. I'm retired now and living on the shore of Saginaw Bay at the very tip of Michigan's thumb. Nowadays when I'm not out riding my Harley, I write.
My mystery stories are centered primarily in the Detroit area with occasional sidetrips to the upper peninsula, the desert southwest, and even Europe. I try to paint the City in a positive but realistic light while treating their police department with respect. Hopefully my books are entertaining and believable; sometimes dark but not too dark. The critics have been kind and quite complimentary.
"The Unreal McCoy," Independence Books, and "Turn Left at September," Behler Publications have both been nominated for awards and are available for order through any bookstore or at any internet book dealer.
My next book, "The First Domino," steps away from the series and allows one of the established characters to run a solo gig. I am currently seeking representation for this novel.
In my personal profile, motorcycles play an important part in my life. I'm an avid Harley fan and generally ride around twenty-five thousand miles a season. Adventure has been my passion since I was a kid. I've had opportunities to experience things that many people only dream about. I've been a skydiver, scuba diver, motorcycle racer, professional hydroplane racer, and have even faced a bull in a bullring. I still like roller coasters too.
Monday, April 2, 2007
As a writer, I have a responsibility to my readers to not only entertain, but to inform and yes, enlighten. Research in narrative psychology shows that fiction actually gives readers a new way of thinking, as well as provide guidance in problem-solving. Fiction is also cathartic--readers can identify with a character going through similar struggles. While I agree that readers usually are not actively seeking these benefits when they pick up a book, I do believe that writers (whether consciously or not) are leading readers to these very things behind the scenes.
As a writer, I never consider myself a fool. Fools don't spend years of research to make sure the dates are right. Fools don't consult the thesaurus over and over again to make sure they have the right word (Flaubert spent years looking for this). Fools don't travel cross-country to make sure their settings are authentic.
Sure, when it comes to popular fiction, there are a lot of clowns out there. But I'm not one of them.
Sunday, April 1, 2007
April 1, 2007
It seems pretty clear to me what my job is as a nonfiction writer. It's to inform, to educate, sometimes to analyze. Even in NF, there's a need to entertain so the rest of the job is more effective.
With fiction, on the other hand, the job is to entertain, period. Sure, you might educate, and a few egomaniacs think they know more about life than their readers, so they think their job is to "enlighten" but I figure my ego is just big enough to think my daydreams are powerful enough or skillfully produced that people might choose to share them versus, say, watch TV, rent a video, surf the Internet, have sex, go out to eat, mow the lawn, clean house, talk to their spouse, talk to their kids, walk the dog, clean out the kitty litter or stare vacantly into space.
I'm reminded--and not just because it's April Fool's Day--that modern society places a high premium on entertainment. Human beings probably always have, even if it's that particularly good storyteller in the cave that everybody wants to hear. I always love it when anthropologists go on about the religious aspects of cave paintings. I think, "Or they were bored with nothing better to do." So lest we get all carried away with our egos, I think we as writers should remember that we are nothing more than the court jesters of our age. And by the standards of TV, movies and rock stars, even the most successful novelists are mere second-hand jesters, at that.
Which reminds me again, of course, that there is another word for jester.
Friday, March 30, 2007
300 in 3 weeks
That's how many participants signed up to the popular growing CrimeSpace website (http://crimespace.ning.com).
I found out about the growing community when I was setting up my new forum on a great social networking site called ning.com and as always I'm looking for ways to promote myself and decided to drop in and look around.
My! Oh my! Was I overwhelmed and in love at the same!
Immediately I wanted to share this with the world and decided for my entry this week to you, to do an interview with Daniel Hatadi, the founder of Crimespace.
Can you give me a brief Bio on you, Daniel?
Having spent ten years as a computer programmer in the shady field of gambling, I found myself drawn from music, to short film, to reading—something I've ignored since high school. The next step was writing and I've been doing that for the last three years, the first two of which were spent on a novel I never want exhumed from the coffin I buried it in. I've since moved on to a story that could be described in one sentence like this: "An unwilling hitman becomes part of a crime syndicate that stretches back to turn-of-the-century Sydney." To keep me going while I work on it, I've been writing short stories and getting them published at venues such as Crimespree Magazine, Thrilling Detective, Shotsmag UK, and Thuglit. To top it all off, in an insane fit of inspiration, I created Crimespace.
What is Crimespace?
It's a hub, a central meeting place, a bar of sorts, a place for us to share our passion for crime fiction. Like MySpace, but for readers and writers of crime fiction.
Why did you start Crimespace?
Before Crimespace, the crime and mystery community on the Internet was segregated into readers, writers and sub-genres. I saw a hole that needed to be filled. The Internet has had no substitute for the bar at Bouchercon or Harrogate or Thrillerfest. I'm hoping I can turn Crimespace into that bar. Virtually. So far, it's working.
How long has Crimespace existed? How many members?
It's only been going for a single month and members have been joining at the rate of about 100 a week. That makes it just shy of 400 at last check. I've also seen a number of well known authors sign up. These include Val McDermid, Stuart MacBride, Ken Bruen, Sara Gran, John Rickards, Cornelia Read, J. D. Rhoades, Ray Banks, Sandra Ruttan, Anne Frasier, Sandra Scoppettone, Duane Swierczynski, and the list goes on, growing every day.
When you started it, did you expect the instant networking and promotion?
Crimespace was designed to be a social network, so I definitely hoped to see a large amount of discussion centred on crime fiction. But no, I didn't expect to see people doing business or promoting products. I've heard of members who are already getting publishing deals and working together to create like-minded author events, but the promotion aspect of it has me worried. I don't want to see Crimespace turn into the desert of disingenuous "thanks for adding me as a friend" comments that MySpace has become. I've been taking measures to separate promotion from discussion, such as creating a separate Events section for appropriate announcements. Members have responded very positively to this. It's only been one month, so it's hard to tell where it's heading, but so far, as a crime fiction community, Crimespace is thriving.
What is to come for Crimespace?
I have a few plans in store for Crimespace, such as holding a monthly competition, getting together T-shirts and buttons to promote the place, as well as adding a section for crime-based flash fiction. That last one is something I know a lot of members are looking forward to. I'm also trying to think of ways to promote Crimespace to readers. There are already a number of them on board and they seem to be having a blast finding new authors and interacting with the community. One thing I don't want to do is to make money from Crimespace. The ads that run on the site pay for the hosting and software and none of that money comes to me. Profits from the selling of T-shirts or buttons will go back into things like the monthly competition, or anything else I can think of to help promote Crimespace and the crime fiction community. I already have a day job and unless I one day make a living from writing, I'm happy to stay where I am.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
The event features four writers from the genres of mystery, sci-fi, and drama. The authors will read sign and answer questions about their books. Featured writers include Award winning authors Margie Gosa Shivers, (“Once Is Never Enough”) and Sylvia Hubbard (“Stone’s Revenge”), Author and Media Strategist Mel Hopkins (“Sleeping With A D-Man”) and award winning new author Valerie Withers. (“F.R.I..E.N.D.S. .and the Choices That We Make”).
The event also features all the extras offered at 220 Communications sponsored events, including special prize drawings totaling over $1000. Including resort vacation packages good at over 50 different locations, mystery movie packs, special "mystery prizes".
220 Communications is the parent company for online art gallery Kreationsart.com and online media (books, music, film) site BUY220.com. The company is dedicated to the marketing and promotion of the arts using a positive and innovative approach. The company features monthly “Sessions” events in partnership with Little Black Pearl Art Design Center in Chicago IL and has held events in Detroit, Dallas, Memphis and Milwaukee. 220 Communications is the creator of the "Authors and Artists" Chicago event now in its fourth year to be held September 7th- 9th.
Sponsors for Mystery and Mayhem are Little Black Pearl Art Design Center and BUY220.comMedia
Contact Glenn Murray firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Friday, March 16, 2007
Mystery Writers of America has launched MWA: Reads Library Initiative, to help financially struggling libraries throughout the U.S. The program aims to bring attention to the needs of public library systems by donating books to libraries for their collections, focusing on books for children and young adults.
MWA is starting with a pilot program in West Virginia, where it is seeking donations (especially children's mysteries) to the West Virginia Library Commission. Booksellers and publishers may send books in new or "great" condition to MWA:Reads LI, attn: Suzy McGinley, WVLC, 1900 Kanawha Blvd. East, Cultural Center, Charleston, W.Va. 25305. More information is at www.mysterywriters.org/MWAreads.
Thursday, February 8, 2007
Booksignings are just what they are. Book signings. You sit, you stand, you smile and you pretty much just do what you’re there for. Sign books.
Sure you get a chance to network and you get a chance to talk face to face with readers, but when you’re a murder or mystery type of gal, you really don’t want just the plain old book signing.
So in lieu of my upcoming release in 2008 of my second serial murder that takes place in Detroit, I plan to host the Perfect Murder party where the guest come in and figure out a murder. What better way to find your readers than to invite them to a party their dying to get to. (Yes, that was a pun.)
Murder parties are great ways to get your guest in and have fun. The winner of course gets a bag of books and promotional items, while everyone else had bought a book by me.
I’m so excited as I plan the murder out.
So tell me what’s your Perfect Murder Event? Have you been to one? What were the good things about it and what were the bad things about it?
Tuesday, February 6, 2007
Who am I?
Well, my name is Sylvia Hubbard and even though my base genre is romance, I'm also a suspense novelist. I love to have love and a little murder mixed in together to make the right receipe for mayhem in a story.
My current paperback novel is called Stone's Revenge - listed as a psychological suspense about the son of a serial killer getting revenge against the prosecuting attorney.
Yeah, it is! Check it out at Amazon.
Most posts to come and I hope you enjoy as we grow and keep you guessing until the very end....