Friday, November 30, 2012

New Kid on the Blog

And very happy to be here too.  I just signed a deal with Midnight Ink and dropped by to say hello. 

First, "kid"?  For the purposes of punning only.  I'm forty seven by my calculations. (Although when exactly did that happen?)



My book - As She Left It - is a suspenseful tale of buried secrets and looming danger, set in contemporary Britian.  It won't actually be out until next June once the good people of Midnight Ink have spat on their hankies and polished its face til it shines.

Or rather have set to with their Swiss army knives and winkled out all the bits that would make a reader go "huh"?

Because when a book's set in Britian and published in America a lot of the editing is about building a bridge over that chasm that divides us by our common language.

Not the cookie = biscuit, biscuit = scone, if only scone = cookie we could all go home thing.  Or the fries = chips, chips = crisps, crisps are fried and they're all delicious anyway thing.  Everyone knows about them.

And the real horrors are easy to keep a handle on too.  Because you're unlikely to forget that "rubber" in the US doesn't mean "tennis shoe" after you've stood in a thrift store, with a pair of converse in your hand, and asked your sister (quite loudly) if she thinks it's disgusting to buy second-hand rubbers.  Just for instance, you understand.

No, it's the sneaky ones.  Did you know that in the UK a tank is a vest and vest is a waistcoat and a sweater vest is a tank top?  And none of them are shirts.  And men wear jumpers and garters but not suspenders?  When you're trying to bring characters alive the last thing you want is for your reader to frown and wonder why a girl would wear tailored clothes to bed, or why no one mentioned the cross-dressing before now.



Then there's the whole yard/garden mess.  A yard in Britain is a small concrete area used for storing the bin (garbage can).  It's what you get in very high-density housing.  Like this:

 

And that's why it always surprised me that quite posh people in US books had them.  But then a California friend says that, growing up, she felt sorry for people in British books with their gardens and wondered why they didn't have any grass out back.

So getting this right matters.  And we are.  By the time next June rolls around, Opal won't be sleeping in a vest or lighting fags and she certainly won't be buying anything second-hand that she oughtn't to.








Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gratitude

by Kathleen Ernst

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  I love the focus on what’s truly important:  pausing to reflect on our blessings, especially such simple joys as good food and family or friends.  No commercialism, no distractions.  (OK, I understand that football can distract.  Not a problem in my house.)

I recently heard a gifted speaker share emerging science about the benefits of developing an mindset of gratitude.  Those who tend to view life with thanksgiving are, in general, happier and healthier.

I’ve thought about that as I saw the buzz online lately about advice that celebrated novelist Philip Roth recently gave to a younger writer:

“I would quit while you’re ahead. Really, it’s an awful field. Just torture. Awful. You write and write, and you have to throw almost all of it away because it’s not any good. I would say just stop now. You don’t want to do this to yourself. That’s my advice to you.”

Yikes.

The children’s mystery I have coming out in February will be my twenty-fifth book, so obviously I have a lot to feel grateful about.  That doesn’t mean I’m completely oblivious to the issues Roth mentions.  I wrote novels for 20 years before I was offered a book contract.  I’ve since written a few that, despite my best efforts, never found a publisher.  I’ve certainly had my share of bad days, even heartbreaks.  (Trust me.  I have.)

However, I can’t imagine ever not writing.  I can’t imagine ever advising someone with stories to tell to not write them.  The publishing industry can euphemistically be called challenging, but that is quite different from the process of writing itself.  And these days, with the rise of self-publishing and e-books, writers have a lot more options than we used to.

So despite all the ups and downs, the long hours and periodic disappointments, I’m very grateful to be a working writer.  I’m grateful for the other writers and teachers who helped me along the way.  I’m grateful for my supportive family, and for my agent and my editors who make my career possible.  And I’m enormously grateful to the readers who have graced my life along the way.

Wishing you all a holiday season.

KAE smiling on beach

Monday, November 26, 2012

Author, Author!

By Deborah Sharp

When I sat down the other night to check my email, I found three gems buried under Viagra pitches and pleas for emergency money from ''friends'' supposedly stranded overseas. (Really? Does anyone actually rush to the bank to wire money after reading one of those emails?)

Anyway, the happy surprises were invites from organizers asking me to speak at writing conferences or other events. I haven't been writing fiction all that long. My first Mace Bauer Mystery came out in 2008. I remember all too well when no one invited me to go anywhere; when I had to kick down the door for a chance to talk about my books. 

Now, three invitations float across the e-transom in one day. Granted, that was a very good day, not to mention an unusual one. But, wow! What a difference a few years -- and four published books -- make. 

Don't get me wrong. It's not like I'm fielding speaking requests like Mike Trout snagging balls in the outfield. 


On the other hand, it's been a good while since I've had to beg somebody: ''Please, PLEASE, won't you ask me to come appear at your conference?'' 


Funny thing is, at least one of the recent requests came from a conference I'd contacted three or four years ago. I pleaded. I plotted. I groveled for an invite. Back then, I got a rather snippy letter in return, telling me I could pay to put up a card table in the vendor area and peddle my own books. I imagined being sandwiched between the hot dog cart and a vendor with a display of kitty-cat bookends. I didn't take the organizers up on their offer.  

Now, it's two free nights in a hotel and a cocktail reception for featured authors. Clearly, they don't remember blowing me off back in 2009. By 2012, I'd earned a polite invite with this nicely worded promise: I am at your service, so please do not hesitate to contact me for anything you may need 

I wonder how they'd take it if I told hotel room service that I needed Champagne?  

Not that I'd do that. And, really, I'm not gloating. Well, maybe a little. Most authors work incredibly hard for not a lot of money. Getting invited into the spotlight to talk about your work feels like one way to measure success. 

How about you? What makes you feel like a success? What makes your self-worth soar? 

Friday, November 23, 2012

I Spy



by G.M. Malliet

As I write this blog, we are into the second week of the General Petraeus situation.

Where I live, this story—or non-story, depending on your point of view—has taken on a life of its own. I live close enough to the White House that with a carefully-aimed rock, I probably could break a window in the West Wing.* I’ve been aware for some time that our physical location makes us obsess over things that the rest of the world, particularly the French, would completely ignore.

No one in D.C. can talk about anything but who knew what when, what it all means for national security, and how soon the trend of men sending shirtless photos of themselves via email is going to end. Much of my family’s Thanksgiving Day conversation was taken up not with thoughts of gratitude but with speculation about Petraeus’ entanglement. Was it no more than the usual and expected human folly (nephew Matthew), a sign of the moral rot that set into this dag-nabbed country when Roosevelt left office (great-uncle Reggie), or a total frame-up job by an unnamed foreign power (neice Betsy). Betsy’s theory was, I thought, highly original. Hey, I’m supposed to be the mystery writer, the thinker-upper of bizarre plots. Here was the Mata Hari story of the century and I completely missed it.

I thought it might be time to conduct a little poll to see how closely people outside the D.C. beltway have been paying attention as the revelations pile up. (As one online commenter noted, “I am running out of popcorn.”) Please circle your answers below using a number two pencil. There are no wrong answers, only wrong people, or whatever it was my civics teacher used to say:

1.      I have now learned all I care to know about General Petraeus, including how to spell Petraeus.
2.      I don’t understand how Robert Barnett, the big-name, $900-per-hour D.C. lawyer and literary agent, can help Petraeus or anyone “navigate their return to private life” without using up that person’s entire pension fund. I think I can help you return to private life for a lot less money than Bob would charge. For example, you could simply change your voicemail message and leave your key with the receptionist. Oh, and you might want to think about opening a new personal email account.
3.      I want to become an "honorary ambassador" like Jill Kelley and get diplomatic plates for my car. Do I have to move to Tampa or can I do that from here?
4.      One of the more fascinating things we’ve learned in recent days is how many perks go with being a general. I think everyone should have their own motorcade of twenty-eight motorcycles to escort them to parties. That would probably be way better than being driven by a psychotic D.C. cabdriver with a suspended license who speeds through red lights, narrowly missing pedestrians, which is how I currently get to parties.
5.      I think belly fat like Mata Hari’s should come back into style, and soon. Thanksgiving was all that.

This poll is by no means complete. By the time this blog goes to print, the press will have come up with many more astonishing revelations than I could ever imagine. Writing fiction is so much easier.

Happy Post-Thanksgiving, everyone. I hope your team won.

*If anyone from the FBI is reading this blog, please be aware that this comment was A JOKE. I have no intention of throwing anything, anywhere. Please do not search my email because the problem, you see, is that I am a crime writer and you simply would not believe what you can find in my Gmail account. There are earnest discussions about administering and detecting poisons, and Dexter-like analyses of blood spatter patterns, and speculation about how short you would have to be to easily be folded inside a steamer trunk. I am inured to this now but I can see how anyone idly trolling through my online research folder might be alarmed. An editor who recently was researching the premise of a short story I’d written said, “My internet history might now look a little scary to anyone searching my computer.” I hear you. One thing that spurred me on to become a published author was the thought that I really needed to justify some of the creepy stuff saved in my browser history, not to mention some of my tax-deductible expenses.**

**If anyone from the IRS is reading this blog, let me just ask you when is the last time you traveled to St. Louis for a writers’ conference? Because that is one very expensive city, let me tell you. The $75 filet was just the tip of the iceberg. I left off of my return a ton of expenses I thought you might find questionable, like the camel rental. Don’t ask.

+++++
G.M. Malliet is the author of the DCI St. Just mysteries, from Midnight Ink, and the Father Max Tudor mysteries, from Minotaur/Thomas Dunne. Please visit her at her website: http://GMMalliet.com, find her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Darker Side of Midnight

Hello, most of you… well, pretty much all of you, have no idea who I am. I’m new to Midnight Ink (the ink on my two book contract is still damp), so I thought I’d use my first Inkspot blog to introduce myself.

My name is Maegan Beaumont and I write thrillers…

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the good stuff. Like, why I write thrillers.

A bit of background—I’ve been writing since I was a little girl. I’ve also been moderately obsessed with human behavior since I was a child… or more specifically, deviant human behavior. It makes perfect sense that at some point, these interests would intersect, but while I’ve always loved writing, I didn’t always want to be a writer. When I was ten, I vividly remember being asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. It went something like this:

Poor, unsuspecting soul: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Me: A criminal psychologist.

Poor, unsuspecting soul: Why would a sweet little girl like you want to be a criminal psychologist?

Me: Because when a man chops his entire family up with an axe, I want to be able to understand why he did it.

Poor, unsuspecting soul:

 Yea... I wasn’t as sweet as I looked.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been obsessed with understanding ‘why’. Why do people behave the way that they do? Make the choices they make. Why does one person react to a set of circumstances differently than another… objectively, I can look at my moderate childhood obsession and realize that it had everything to do with my desire to make sense of chaos and my deep-seated need to control my environment. Yes, you’re saying, that’s all well and good—years of therapy have just paid off…

But what does that have to do with why you write thrillers?

Well…

It’s a two part explanation—my moderate obsession with deviant behavior and the fact that I am a control freak. As a thriller writer, I get to indulge both. I get to explore the dark side of human nature and manipulate people that I’ve created into doing and saying what I want them to.

Wow… that made me sound like a sociopath. Let’s try again.

As a thriller writer, I get to explore the dark side of human nature—those things inside us all that none of us want to admit to—and I get to tell stories about how we, as people, overcome that darkness. How we survive. How we ultimately win.

I believe that there is darkness inside every one of us. We’re all dangling over the abyss—it’s just that some of us have a firmer grip on humanity than others. Most of us would never do the things I write about—would never even entertain such thoughts. Most of us live in the light.

But there are others who’ve let go. Who’ve fallen. Who’ve allowed themselves to become monsters. These are the people that fascinate me. They walk and talk like regular people, but they’ve been corrupted. These people don’t just live in the dark. They embrace it… and when a poor, unsuspecting soul wanders too close, they get snatched up and dragged into the darkness. If they’re very, very lucky, they manage to break free. To find the light again… but spending time in the dark with a monster will change you.

And what do you do if the monster wants you back? How do you fight something you can’t see? How do you win against the darkness after it’s become a part of who you are? Is it even possible?

These are the questions I’ve been asking myself since I was a little girl—and as a thriller writer, I’m finally getting the opportunity to find the answers.

So, here’s my question(s) for you:

What is it that you look for in a book? What are the fundamental questions about humanity that you’re seeking answers to? What book or books have you read that revealed these truths to you?
Maegan Beaumont is the author of CARVED IN DARKNESS, the first book in the Sabrina Vaughn thriller series (Available through Midnight Ink, spring 2013). A native Phoenician, Maegan’s stories are meant to make you wonder what the guy standing in front of you in the Starbucks line has locked in his basement and feel a strong desire to sleep with the light on. When she isn’t busy fulfilling her duties as Domestic Goddess for her high school sweetheart turned husband, Joe, and their four children, she is locked in her office with her computer, her coffee pot and her Rhodesian Ridgeback, and one true love, Jade.

                                                                                 
                                                                                                    

Monday, November 19, 2012

And The Big Bang Launched...

So, Midnight Ink acquiring editor Terri Bischoff here.  I am taking over Linda's blog for today.  You see, I am in Denver and attended Linda's book launch.  And let me tell you, it was awesome!


(As most of you know, I was a former bookstore owner.  I owned and operated Booked for Murder in Madison, WI for five years.  In that time, we hosted many bookstore events.  A solid event consisted of 30-40 people attending...)

Anyway... back to Linda's signing.  I arrived at The Tattered Cover in LoDo about 40 minutes before the event was scheduled to start.  After grabbing a coffee, I browsed and waited for people to arrive.  The store staff had put out about 100 chairs, but as the people started rolling in, they began adding rows...  and more rows... and then the folks that came in at the end had to stand at the back of the room.  When all was said and done, over 175 people were there for Linda's launch.  The air was electric and amazingly positive.  There was an incredibly strong showing of family and friends, and those in the Denver writing community...  people that supported Linda thru the tough times all writers face before they become published authors.




Because of folks rolling in a bit late - I am sure it was the tough parking in the downtown area - the event started a little late.  After being introduced by Charles of Tattered Cover, Linda took the stage.  And then the real magic happened.  I have heard Linda speak in the past, but Thursday night was special.  Funny, as always, but also gracious and humble.  Linda spoke of her writing journey, thanking those who have supported her and helped her along the way.  She spoke of her friendships with Ben LeRoy and myself.  Friendships that evolved into business relationships that none of us expected.  Linda then read a bit and answered questions.  When Linda started signing books, the line seemed to go on forever.  After signing over one hundred books, Linda finally was free to join the party at the bar around the corner.  And that was rockin.  Wine, beer, appetizers and pizza.  Linda was the star and shined the brightest on Thursday night.



So I will sign off saying, Linda - congrats on your magical evening.  It was perfect in every possible way.  I am proud of you.  :)  Now, please make sure my own section of the liquor cabinet is restocked and my room redecorated for my next visit!

Friday, November 16, 2012

GIVING BACK AND PAYING IT FORWARD


by Lois Winston

I’ve always been a huge proponent of both giving back and paying it forward. Many knowledgeable people have shared their expertise with me over the years and helped me get where I am today. Without their willingness to share, I never would have learned what I needed to learn to become both a published author and a literary agent.

One of the ways I’ve given back to the writing community is by teaching. Over the past six years, I’ve presented workshops and given talks at conferences and to various writing groups, spoken at libraries, facilitated a writers’ group at a local bookstore, written articles on writing and publishing for newsletters and guest blogs, and taught continuing education courses. With few exceptions, most of this has been volunteer work. Occasionally, I receive a small honorarium for my time.

Often people who have taken my workshops or attended my classes have suggested I publish a book on writing. I never gave it much thought until a few months ago when I received an email from someone who had taken one of my online workshops. She wrote to tell me that she’d sold her manuscript, and it was all because of what she’d learned in my workshop.

This particular writer had previously received dozens of form rejection letters. After taking the workshop, she revised her manuscript based on what she’d learned. Then she began sending out a new batch of queries. Suddenly she was receiving requests for partials. Several months later, she received an offer of publication. She ended her email by suggesting I put the information from that workshop into a book.

As most of you know by now, the publishing world is changing. Authors now have more options, thanks to indie publishing and the phenomenal sales of eReaders over the last two years. I realized the time was right to give serious thought to publishing a writing book.

The workshop the writer had taken was Top Ten Reasons Your Manuscript is Rejected. I tweaked the title a bit and last week e-published Top Ten Reasons Your Novel is Rejected. I can only teach so many workshops. I hope this book helps many aspiring writers achieve their dreams of seeing their stories in print.

If you’re interested or know someone who might be interested in the book, you can find buy links at my website

Award-winning author Lois Winston writes the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series featuring magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack. Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, a January 2011 release, is the first book in the series and received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Kirkus Reviews dubbed it, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum” Death By Killer Mop Doll was released this past January. Revenge of the Crafty Corpse will be a January 2013 release. Lois also writes romance, romantic suspense, humorous women's fiction, and non-fiction under her own name and as Emma Carlyle. Visit Lois at http://www.loiswinston.com, visit Emma at http://www.emmacarlyle.com, and visit Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers character blog, www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com.









Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Freeze, Grammar Police!



by Shannon Baker
 
Your going to love it!

Everyone picked up there turkey.

Its going to rain all over it’s car.

Are your teeth set on edge yet? Does it make you cringe? Yeah, I thought it might. This kind of thing makes me mutter under my breath and complain to anyone handy. When my children were young there used to be a commercial on television for a multivitamin. The announcer would say, “Calcium, like in milk. Vitamin C, like in oranges.” I exploded. Every. Single. Time. From that one commercial alone I trained my children.

Not to speak correct grammar, but to run for the remote at the first hint of the jingle. They knew if they didn’t hit mute, I’d start shouting, “As! As! You moron!”

Now all grown up and not around to hear my tirades, they’ll torture me by taking pictures of grammatical crimes and sending them to my phone. Children never lose their delight in tormenting parents... or maybe it’s just my children.

Like the Irish and the police force in Boston, I come by my grammar sensitivity through blood. My paternal grandmother, a woman I admire in so many ways, was an English teacher in the early 1920’s. That woman respected the language. When her sons married women who might have been a little lax in their grammar and punctuation, especially when jotting quick letters to their mother-in-law, she would get out her red pen and go to work. 

Then she’d mail the corrected letters back. I’m sure she thought she was helping them out by teaching them correct usage. I am pretty sure they didn’t take it that way.

I’m not that demanding, really. I mean, all of us have hurried along and popped off with the wrong word. I have a devil of a time with lie, lay, laid. And for some reason past and passed can trip me up. I should also admit to an incorrect affect versus effect from time to time. 

Mistakes can be made. And I’m a forgiving person. Stop laughing. I can forgive. If I want to. If I really, really want to.

 However, I draw the line on certain things. A person must have standards and mine begin with:

They will shape their own destiny. 

I can barely type that without jumping from my chair and stomping around the room. The Man With Endless Patience looks at me expectantly whenever some idiot sports announcer mistakenly spouts it. I never disappoint. “YOU CAN’T SHAPE YOUR OWN DESTINY!” 

Look it up. Destiny is…predestined. You don’t change it because it’s…destiny. 

Being a big Nebraska Cornhusker fan and the Huskers being what they’ve been in the last several years, I hear this asinine phrase so often I’m surprised I haven’t burst a vein.

The other phrase that makes me clench my teeth and dig my fingernails into my palms is:

 I could care less. 

Really? Do you mean you COULDN’T care less? Or could you care less a little more?

I know, you’re probably like my children and are rolling your eyes and thinking that I need even more therapy. You want to tell me to stay calm and read some Jane Austin. 

But deep inside, you know I’m right. It’s our language. Our words.  So come on, out with it. What is that common misused word or stupid phrase that makes your back teeth hurt?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Creating Both Internal and External Conflict

by Beth Groundwater

Early in my writing career, I learned that in commercial fiction, there must always be conflict. Dwight Swain succinctly defines conflict as “two dogs, one bone.” The protagonist wants or needs something and has to fight to get it. And in most novels, we authors need to create both external conflict and internal conflict to engage and captivate readers.



External conflict happens in the physical world: space colonists fight alien invaders in a science fiction novel, the heroine struggles to escape after being kidnapped by the villain in a romance novel, the sleuth must find a killer covering his tracks in a murder mystery. Internal conflict happens in the emotional landscape of the novel and usually involves the protagonist needing to learn a life lesson, conquer an inner fear, solve a relationship problem, or surmount some emotional barrier.




The most interesting plots intertwine multiple external and internal conflicts of multiple characters. They feed on one another, successively raising the stakes until the final crisis or “black moment.” In a mystery, the primary external conflict is the need to solve the crime and find the murderer, while the internal conflict can be any emotional issue that must be faced by the sleuth while investigating the murder. This close relationship between the primary external and internal conflicts is one that I strove for in both of my published Claire Hanover gift basket designer mystery books, A Real Basket Case and To Hell in a Handbasket, the second of which was just re-released in trade paperback and ebook by Midnight Ink on November 8th.

In A Real Basket Case, the main external conflict is that a massage therapist is shot dead while giving Claire a massage and her husband is wrongly accused of the crime. Claire must convince the local police to reopen the case and look for the real killer. The internal conflict is that this event shatters Claire’s marriage, making her husband Roger believe she was having an affair and putting Claire on the defensive to prove her love to him and rescue their marriage.

Similarly, Claire’s initial external conflict in To Hell in a Handbasket is to convince local authorities that a young woman’s death on the ski slope of Breckenridge, Colorado was a murder, not an accident, as seen in this snippet of a scene:

Realizing the senior ski patroller didn’t believe her, Claire kept pushing. “The ski tracks came straight out of the woods above the collision point. No turns. If the skier was the one who hit her, either he never saw Stephanie or he deliberately hit her.”

Judy stared at her mother. “You think someone killed her on purpose?”


“Whoa.” Matthews put out his hands. “You’re getting carried away here.”


The internal conflict in To Hell in a Handbasket is Claire’s reluctance to let go of her college-aged daughter, Judy, who is eager to leave the nest. Claire worries about Judy’s safety as a result of Stephanie’s death on a ski slope, but Judy refuses her mother’s smothering protective measures. An early hint of this conflict is given in these lines:

A surge of jealousy engulfed Claire. Judy had shrugged off her mother’s attempts at comfort, and now she clung to her boyfriend like ivy sucking life from a tree.

By setting roadblocks in Claire’s way, increasing the danger to her daughter and Claire’s confusion about what’s happening, and precipitating arguments between the two, my job as an author was to continually “make things worse” in Claire’s life. That way, readers can worry about her and root for her to succeed. For those who read the book, I hope you enjoy the wild ride that Claire takes in To Hell in a Handbasket!

Do you have any favorite examples of external or internal conflicts in books you’ve read--or written?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Murder, Mayhem, and... Romance???

Romance in Mysteries

By Liz Lipperman

Since this is my first post, I'll introduce myself to those who don't yet know me. I am a retired nurse, married to my high school sweetheart with two grown children and 4 absolutely adorable grandchildren who are the love of my life. I've been writing seriously since 2002 when my Chinese fortune cookie read, "You will be an accomplished writer." I knew right then and there I had no other choice since I had started and stopped writing so many times before. (I still have that one!)

I lost a lot of good years thinking I was a romance writer until finally one day my agent bluntly told me I was a mystery writer. Talk about a rude awakening. In retrospect, I should have known, since all my stories had dead bodies, explosions, and gruesome murders. After I started writing what I should have been writing all along, I sold a cozy series to Berkley. Not the stories I had already penned, mind you. I sold on proposal after the editor read the first book of my ghost mystery series and loved it but couldn't use it. She asked if I could write a cozy series. Now, here's where it gets good. That same story is the one that Terri bought because she loved all the sassy, bad words!! Is anyone out there surprised?  Right after the sale, I blogged that she would probably have to tone it down to which she responded that she had no intentions of doing that. I love her!!

Anyway, I'm so glad to be a part of your incredibly friendly group and hope I can contribute an occasional thoughtful blog. I have my own blog, and I am part of two others as well, so I can't be here as often as I would like to, but I will contribute. I promise.

The blog below is one that first appeared on my own blog after I was on a library panel not too long ago. Since my background includes being a "romance" author, most of my stories still contain a lot of sexual tension and romance. Anyway, when I researched the subject, I found this article and thought it was worth sharing here. Hope you think so, too.



      On Friday I was on a panel with five other authors at the Mansfield Texas library. The event was sponsored by the Friends of the Library and was billed as Mansfield Writes. My friend, Diane Kelly, who writes the humorous Tara Holloway mysteries, organized the event, and each of us did a presentation on some aspect of publishing/writing. I chose the topic romance in mysteries, a subject that is near and dear to my heart since I write what I call romantic mysteries.
I read an interesting article about this on Mystery.Net.com. Did you know that romance with mysteries started way back when Gothic novels were popular? Think Kathleen Woodiwiss and Rosemary Rogers. In those days a young, na├»ve woman found herself in the middle of a horrible storm, usually alone, with screams coming from the attic or some similar scenario. Our young heroine would rush up to see what was going on, only to be rescued by a dashing, brooding, handsome man. Today we call that heroine TSTL – – too stupid to live.
Fortunately, as women’s lib cranked up, so did writers. Modern-day heroines no longer went up to the attic alone after hearing screams unless there was a very compelling reason, and even then, they didn't go without a flashlight, a cell phone, and sometimes a Glock.
In 1943 Phyllis Whitney penned mysteries aimed at a modern female audience. Mary Stuart followed, and from the late 1950s to the early 1970s, we saw an emergence of suspense novels with pronounced romantic elements. Finally, in the 1970s, Mary Higgins Clark introduced us to a new version of romantic suspense with her women in jeopardy novels. This has always been my favorite genre to both read and write, although I get confused sometimes as to what exactly I do write. My heroines always find themselves in jeopardy, but there's a fine line. Romance can be found in all my books (romantic suspense), but you never know who the killer is until the very end (mystery.) Born a rebel, I love breaking the genre rules.
I can only hope the readers who have been kind enough to take a chance on me – – even some who like me – – aren't aware of these rules. They only know what they enjoy reading, and hopefully, I'm included on the list.
I ended my presentation with this little tidbit. After a particularly exhausting sexy encounter with her mate, the female praying mantis bites off his head and eats it.
Moral of this story – – even Mother Nature sees the importance of combining murder with good sex.

What about you? Do you like a little romance with your mysteries? One lucky commenter will win a signed copy of the first book in A Dead Sister Talking Mystery, titled HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE, when it releases in May. I'll post the winner at the end of the day after random.org chooses one.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Paranormal Non-Activity

by Jennifer Harlow


Recently, when I was asked to share a true paranormal tale of my own, I was excited. “Should be easy,” I thought. “Everyone has one.” A house that creeks, TVs turning themselves off or on, reading another person’s thoughts. But after wracking my brain for hours I could not come up with a single, solitary memory where the paranormal touched my life. I guess I’m just too…*gulp* boring. Even ghosts avoid me.

I’ve always wanted to have a paranormal experience. I really have. Whenever people tell me about seeing a ghost or dreaming something then it actually coming true I have been pea green with envy. And I should have had one darn it. My uncle, my grandmother, and my brother have all seen ghosts. Often. I believe them because these are not people who would make this stuff up. In fact, when I asked them about these experiences, they would clam up. Deny it until I pried and pried, and they finally broke down. I mean I was always the one into the occult and paranormal, even considered becoming a parapsychologist, yet I have never had any brushes with the paranormal. It’s in my genes, damn it. Why couldn’t I have gotten the psychic gene instead of the weak ankles gene? Darn you, universe.

I wasn’t going to let my lack of latent preternatural antennae stop me from chasing the paranormal either. (Stubborn gene present and accounted for though.) I’ve walked around with an EMP meter and the gage didn’t jump. I’ve used a Ouija board countless times without the pointer moving a millimeter. I’ve read books on opening my consciousness and tapping inner psychic potential. No matter how many minutes of meditation I’ve attempted the only thing that opened was my mouth to yawn. (I so suck at meditation.) Heck, I even attempted witchcraft spells. The only thing that came from them was I had an awesome candle and herb collection for years. 

So I wish I had a paranormal tale to tell, I really do, but sad to admit there has been precious little magic in my life. Perhaps that’s why I, and so many others, are so drawn to the paranormal. Because we all need a little magic in our lives. To believe in something more than what our five senses reveal to us. That miracles are possible. People are capable of extraordinary, unexplained feats. That death is just a transformation from one form of energy to another. That there’s more to life than grocery shopping, work, and walking the dog. That one day something enchanting, something special will come into our lives be it a ghost, Bigfoot, or just the feeling you’re not alone in this universe. That’s worth chasing. Or just visiting a bookstore for.

What about you? Am I in the minority or have all of you all had a paranormal experience? If you haven’t, do you want to? Why?



Saturday, November 3, 2012

INKSPOT NEWS - November 3, 2012


Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa are right around the corner. Here’s your chance to kick your holiday shopping off right. Come to the Sisters in Crime November meeting to hear from, meet, and mingle with 14 chapter authors who’ve had something new published this year in the mystery field. Booksellers from Mystery Loves Company will be there to sell books, helping you avoid the horror of shopping for holiday gifts at the mall or waiting for them to come in the mail. So, come on down and support your chapter authors at our annual holiday-season kick-off event!

Which authors will there? Donna Andrews, Jacqueline Corcoran, Meriah Crawford, Diane Davidson, Barb Goffman, Jennifer Harlow, Alma Katsu, Tracy Kiely, Debbi Mack, Sandra Parshall, Harriette Sackler, Verna Suit, Cathy Wiley, and Rebecca York.

The meeting is free and open to the public. The presentations begin at 1pm at the Howard County Library, 6600 Cradlerock Way, Columbia MD.  Hope to see you there!