Monday, October 31, 2016
One by one, each of those original writers moved on and other fabulous writers took their places. And I had fun blogging with each and every one. Through all the changes, one thing always remained constant. The quality of the writing and the fellowship among all of us here. When I've met other "Minds" at conferences for the first time, I've felt like I already knew them. And that has been wonderful.
These past few years I've really struggled with finding quality time to write. Between family, work, house, etc., there doesn't seem enough hours in the day to do everything I want and need to do. And find the time to finish my book. Something had to give.
So now it's time for me to move on from the blog as well and give another writer a chance to blog with this fun group. Happily we've found one that we know our fans will love: Terry Shames. She'll be starting in two weeks, and I know she'll be a great addition to the blog as it continues for (I hope) many years to come!
From now on, you can find me at my website. And, someday soon when I get that book done, I hope to come back here to promote it. As we always say, once a Criminal Mind, always a Criminal Mind!
Friday, October 28, 2016
by Paul D. Marks
A long time ago an agent asked me if I had a “big book” in me? I told him yes, because what else are you supposed to say? They want to hear yes and you don’t want to turn them off, so you tell them what they want to hear. But the fact of the matter is it was true anyway. I did have an idea for a big book in me. And not only an idea but I had even made notes and a timeline and character chart on a huge piece of paper, something I don’t normally do as a “pantster”.
It’s not a crime book, though there may be some crimes in it. And it is a “big” book in the sense that it spans several decades of the 20th century. It’s also still something I would love to do because I love history and I love the concept.
The big book is about intertwined families, relationships and the march of history in a fictional context—that sounds pretty ‘big,’ doesn’t it?—going on down through the decades and yes, there might be some crime in it, but it wouldn’t be a crime novel per se. I suppose you could say it was mainstream, maybe even literary. I read all kinds of things, well a lot of different things, and I enjoy the mainstream and literary genres, which sometimes overlap, so I guess that’s what you could call the “big book”. And that’s one of the things I might write if not a crime novel.
Things I probably wouldn’t write would be sci-fi, romance, YA or fantasy. But I also thought I’d never write horror and around Halloween I’ll have my second horror story—The Long Night—coming out in the Simple Things anthology, edited by Franklin E. Wales. My first horror tale—Finders Keepers—appeared in Journals of Horror–Found Fiction, edited by Terry M. West, last Halloween. As I say, I never thought I’d write horror stories but was asked by Terry to do something for Journals of Horror, with no guarantee that it would get in. I saw it as a challenge. And luckily it got in! It was fun to do but really stretched my writing chops. I’ve also written some humor/satire fiction and mainstream/literary, as well as crime. For example, a story called Terminal Island was published in the literary journal Weber: The Contemporary West. Another mainstream/literary story, Endless Vacation, received recognition from Glimmer Train and The Lorian Hemingway International Short Story Competition. But writing horror was really a stretch. So when Frank came to me and asked me to do another one I thought, “I can do this…maybe.” Would lightning strike twice? It did. But it truly is a challenge writing outside of your comfortable genre. And I guess I’m just comfortable with gunshots, stabbings, exsanguination, petechiae eyes and death by a sickly sweet green liquid disguised as Gatorade, a.k.a. anti-freeze. But I am getting more comfortable with the horror genre.
So, who knows, maybe one day I will write a sci-fi or romance or YA book. Never say never. What about you?
If you’re in SoCal, I hope you’ll join Laurie Stevens, Connie Archer, Elizabeth Harris and me for Halloween Highjinks...or Lojinks tomorrow (10/29/16), 1:30pm at the Platt Library in Woodland Hills: 23600 Victory Boulevard, Woodland Hills, CA 91367. We’ll be reading from our spooky works, talking writing and having a swell time. And there might even be some Halloween candy. And it’s free and open to the public.
For more info click this link: https://www.lapl.org/whats-on/events/get-ready-halloween-party
Click here to: Subscribe to my Newsletter
Thursday, October 27, 2016
"I didn't say Guy Lombardo was Spanish."
"John Wayne was six foot three."
"These mashed potatoes are so creamy."
"Scottish fiction. What did Sayers write?"
"Remember there was coffee in it too. That's extra liquid."
"Anne Tyler's not crime."
"Some of them just have a tiny wee straight bit."
"Teenage stories for children."
"Eighteen hairpin bends.* And what was the other thing I had to look up?"
"Oh yes, Dragnet."
"That was crime."
(*On Lombard Street, in San Francisco)
My family are not going to be any sort of help at all, clearly. So I'm on my own. If I was banish-ed (it needs three syllables) from MWA, SinC, and CWA and had to write something else, it would be . . . a cookery book.
The sort of cookery book I love doesn't have a recipe per page with a list of ingredients and a pithy set of instructions; it has the history of the dish; alternatives and additions; perhaps a planting plan for growing ingredients in the garden; and - most important of all - it tells you why you're doing things.
If a recipe says "be careful not to . . . whatever" I want to know why. Will it be tough? Will it break with tradition? Will it fail to rise? Will it taste bad? Will it look funny? Not all of these things matter much to me.
I like nothing better than a chatty cook book that can sit on the kitchen table for weeks to be read over solitary lunches. Even if I only ever make one or two of the recipes, I'll have learned something about food or a bit of kitchen wisdom, or at least have been entertained.
If I could write such a book - called maybe LOW EFFORT, FLASHY RESULTS - I'd be happy.
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
|Out in Canada 18 October, USA November 1|
|Paperback out in Canada & USA November 1st|
Cathy Ace writes the Cait Morgan Mysteries (book #8 THE CORPSE WITH THE RUBY LIPS was published in paperback on October 18th in Canada, and will be available on November 1st in the USA...order NOW!!!) and the WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries (book #2 THE CASE OF THE MISSING MORRIS DANCER was published in trade paperback on August 31st in the UK, and will be available on November 1st in the US/Canada). Please excuse the highly promotional nature of this post...but with two books being available to readers within such a small window, I owe it to myself and my publishers to do the best I can for the books by presenting them to readers whenever I can :-)
Find out more about Cathy and her work, and sign up for her newsletter at http://cathyace.com/
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Who thought up this dumb question? Oh, I did.
Monday, October 24, 2016
Friday, October 21, 2016
This week's question—"How does moderate stress affect your desire/ability to write? Not minor stress like burnt toast, or major stress like your house just fell down a sinkhole, but a fight with a loved one, a fender-bender at the mall, financial woes?"—arrives on my desktop right at the center of the semester, so I'd add a few other examples of "moderate stress," including grading essays and mid-term exams (20 a day til they're done!), calculating and posting mid-term grades, trying to figure out the reading lists for next semester's classes (book orders due soon!), and then a small horde of other academic responsibilities nagging at me from various directions. Even fun opportunities like the talk on short stories I'm delivering this weekend for the Central Virginia Chapter of Sisters in Crime and the North Carolina Writers' Network Fall Conference session on a similar topic require advance preparation to be figured into an often busy schedule—prep work resulting in its own stress, even with the knowledge that the end result will be tremendous fun.
So where does one find the time and energy and peace of mind (I started to type "piece" of mind, which might be true too!) to write in the midst of all that?
Well, in many cases, I don't.
Despite the "Write First!!!" reminder on my to-do list, during the academic year best intentions don't regularly (or maybe it's more accurate to say "best intentions rarely") get carried through into action. Writing is catch-as-catch-can some weeks and frequently rough sketches or even just notes instead of finely honed prose—with the promise to myself that it will get finely honed after I've finished grading this stack of exams and that group of papers and reading the next book for the next class and finishing the blog post here and.....
Tomorrow, right? And tomorrow and tomorrow and....
I finished the list in that last big paragraph with "blog post" for a specific reason. I've been contributing to Criminal Minds every other Friday for nearly three years now (my first post was January 24, 2014), and for just over a year now, I've also been contributing on the other Friday to the blog SleuthSayers (my first post there, a guest post, was September 5, 2015), and while both these communities have been wonderful and these blogs have been nearly unmatched as opportunities for connecting with fellow writers and readers, I also know that every Thursday lately, I've been finding myself struggling to fit in time to write my post—and writing the post (the deadline looms!) has seemed to join the list of things regularly supplanting writing my own fiction.
When an opportunity begins to look like just another item on the to-do list... well maybe it's time to pass along that opportunity to someone else.
Danny is the author of A Negro and an Ofay, a debut novel coming out next May from Down and Out Books, and his work has also appeared in Beat to a Pulp, Out of the Gutter, and Literary Orphans Journal, with another story forthcoming in Just to Watch Him Die, a Johnny Cash-inspired anthology to be published this winter by Gutter Books.
In addition to writing fiction and nonfiction, Danny has also had success as an actor and comedian, and as a director and screenwriter—which makes a good fit for the first question he'll be tackling here at Criminal Minds a couple of weeks from today: "If you got to write, direct, cast your own film, what would be the style/mood/atmosphere of your finished product?" I'll personally be interested to hear his answer to this, both in the context of the work he's already done in film and television and with an eye toward the fiction he's producing now.
Needless to say, I'd suggest you check out his response too.
In the meantime, as I'm thanking Danny for taking over my half of the Friday posts here, I also want to give tremendous thanks to my blogmates here, who've always offered—both on the blog and off— thoughtful conversation and new perspectives, support and enthusiasm, and most importantly of all friendship. Meredith, Susan, R.J., Rae, Tracy, Cathy, Catriona, Alan and Paul—and further back, Clare and Robin—it's been a pleasure to spend time in your company... and I'll be coming back regularly to add to the conversation in the comments section, so you're not done with me yet!
And of course greatest thanks to everyone who's followed me here and read and commented themselves. Thank you for spending time with me, and with all of us, each week. :-)
Thursday, October 20, 2016
How does moderate stress affect your desire/ability to write? Not minor stress like burnt toast, or major stress like your house just fell down a sinkhole, but a fight with a loved one, a fender-bender at the mall, financial woes?
I like to think I’m a pretty chill guy. (Not sure that’s always the case, but I like to think that. Remember, writers are delusional.) I try not to let stress, or any other distractions for that matter, get in the way of my writing.
I think my “daily quota” writing strategy helps in that regard because I know that once I hit my word count, I’m then free to attend to any pressing needs (like shopping or vacuuming or mowing the lawn or playing golf or writing blog posts).
I try to practice what I tell my workshop students: BICFOK!
Butt In Chair, Fingers On Keyboard.
If I can BICFOK for as long as it takes to hit my quota, then I’m good.
(And exercise helps with the stress, too.)
(Just ignore the man with the ax.)
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
This process can be best summed up with the following chart:
|This pretty much sums up my process|