List of favorite detectives. Is yours on it?

 

 

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Hello, all. I’m just pondering ideas for a four book suspense series, but what kind of protagonist shall we create? What about that tried and true stalwart of suspense fiction…the hardboiled detective? But all detectives don’t need to be the bitter, hard drinking gumshoes. As a matter of fact of the three main types of detective (amateur, private investigator and police), some of the greatest fictional characters stepped way outside that box. Here are a list of my top three favorite fictional detectives.

1. Jessica Fletcher (amateur). Oh sure it was tempting to go with Miss Marple, but Jessica was not your wall flower detective. A writer, for goodness sake, with no investigative training and, dare I say, well into the middle to latter part of her life, well traveled and eager to experience life. And even though there seemed to be a body turning up everywhere she went, she maintained a sense of optimism and compassion. You go, Jessica!

2. Sherlock Holmes (private) Yes, he set the standard for the investigator for hire, brilliant, tireless, dogged. He also possessed an oddball set of weaknesses that make him endure as a character. First off, he was addicted to drugs and lacked many social graces of his era. He also struggled with fits of melancholy and a feverish desire for knowledge that almost ruined him from time to time. Now that’s an interesting p.i.

3. Columbo (police) Why do we love Columbo? Sure he’s a brilliant police detective, but there are plenty of them to go around. He’s interesting because he’s a mess. His dress and speech are sloppy. He’s annoying. He appears to be the most absentminded, imbecile to those who make the mistake of underestimating him. Brilliant, don’t you think?

So who is your favorite fictional detective and why do you like them? Giving away a triple prize this month…a Starbuck’s card, a signed book and a fall treat. All comments earn you a ticket in the September drawing. :)

 

 

Does Springsteen have writing talent? Why it doesn’t really matter.

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That baby Outlaw Pete certainly gets around! He’s the hero of Bruce Springsteen’s first children’s book and the star of his song, Outlaw Pete. Springsteen was inspired by a 1950’s children’s book entitled Brave Cowboy Bill. So does a rock star have the chops to write a children’s book? The answer is…it doesn’t really matter. He’s got what matters more, an amazing platform.

A platform is basically an author’s access to readers. Springsteen has plenty of access with 64 million albums sold in the U.S. alone. Other celebs like Dennis Rodman, Madonna, Henry Winkler have nifty platforms as well. Publishers will scoop them up because their name on the cover will sell rafts of books. Does that sound cynical? Should I be peeved because I’ve worked at my craft and struggled through years of trying to establish a platform by being devoted to the writing business?

Here’s the way I look at it. Those celebrities have worked just as hard to create their individual platforms. Dennis Rodman (while I am not totally sure he’s of Planet Earth) strove to become an excellent basketball player and Bruce Springsteen labored just as diligently in building his music career. They are creative, talented people who, because of their hard work, moved easily into the writing business. Besides, these creative, original thinking celebrities may have plenty of writing talent. I remind myself that one of the children’s books that had a profound influence on me was just such a novel written by Julie Andrews, entitled The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles. Sure, she might have gotten an easy in with her publisher because of her celebrity status, but as it turns out, she is a pretty nifty creative writer. Talented people are often talented in many ways.

Would you buy Bruce Springsteen’s new book? Why or why not? Giving away a signed book, a Starbuck’s gift card and a fall surprise this month.

Top three writing obstacles.

 

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Ah the perks of the writing biz are great, to be sure, but let’s not sugarcoat it. There are some serious obstacles to making a go of it in this strange business. Here are a few I’ve faced personally.

1. You need an agent to get published… and an agent is looking for published writers.

Uh oh. Most publishing houses will not accept unagented submissions and most agents prefer a client with some publishing credits under their belt. That’s an obstacle, now isn’t it? How does one get around that? I published a three book series with Barbour before I was acquired by my agent. There are still a few houses (like Barbour and Harlequin) who will take unagented work, so you can try to build your career that way which will make you more attractive to an agent. You can also build your writing credits by contributing to magazines, ezines, blogs, etc. and even self publishing if you’re enormously committed to marketing that ebook. Every publishing credit can only make you more attractive to an agent.

2. Hours in….money out. It’s a time consuming business to write a book. The fastest I’ve ever managed is three months. As my agent says, “A good book is better than a fast book.” That said, the time investment is huge on a book that may never see the shelf. So what’s the remedy for that? There isn’t one, really, except to stagger your work and make sure there are several income producing projects afoot at one time. Also, books can be self pubbed, of course, but the quality needs to be just as amazing as it would be in a traditionally published novel.

3.  The “write what sells” vs. “what I want to write” dilemma. I know folks who absolutely love what they write and it sells like hotcakes. Me? Not so much. I tend to write “quirky” I’m afraid, and that doesn’t always translate into mainstream sales. Obviously, my publisher and I both want my books to fly off the shelves, but I can’t justify writing about topics just because they are popular. So what’s the answer? Somehow, I need to find that balance. I need to hear from my publisher what they feel is going to appeal to their readers (and they have a keen sense of this) and I must write my own story that balances both what the readers want with what I am comfortable writing. Best case is we hit upon a winner that makes us all happy.

What obstacles do you have in your work or daily life? How do you overcome them? Giving away a Starbuck’s gift card, a signed book and a fall treat this month.

 

Three best perks of being a writer

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Yep, it’ s a hard job writing fiction books for a living but really, the perks just can’t be beat! Here are the three best things about my wacky job.

1.  It fosters curiosity.  As you’ve probably heard me say before, my other job is an elementary school teacher and you’d think that would be high on the “fosters curiosity” list too, but frankly, teaching 26 kids of varying levels and needs takes every bit of mental stamina I possess. In a word, I’m too busy to indulge my curiosity much while in the thick of things, but writing is lovely because it causes me to ask questions. What if a massive earthquake hit an old opera house? How would a man react to having his childhood disease return? What would it be like to be uncertain of your own identity?

2.  It can be done anywhere. My favorite location to write is sitting opposite my wild tangle of tomato plants, banging away on the keyboard while butterflies and finches do their thing. I’ve also written in coffee shops, the back seat of cars and composed tricky sections mentally while in the bathtub. (Do yourself a favor and don’t imagine that last one!)

3. I can provide justice in an unjust world. I only read the paper on Sunday and it’s INFURIATING. I know God’s justice will prevail ultimately, but I’m maddened to see how things are going along right now. I mean this I.S.I.S group? Violent crime in the U.S.? Children betrayed by the people who were supposed to protect them? I feel powerless to set anything right on planet earth, but in my books? Oh you’d better believe bad people will be punished! SEVERELY! I know it’s only fiction, but there’s some comfort in that, right?

So what are the perks of your current job or those you’ve held in the past? It’s a big prize month here at the blog. The September prize is a signed book, Starbuck’s card and a fun fall treat! I so value all of your comments!

Three comments that kill a writer’s ego.

 

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What’s the worst thing you can say to a writer? I’m sure there’s an impressive list that can wound our fragile egos. Here are a few that stand out in my mind.

#1) I didn’t finish your book. Oh, the agony. Was it a sagging middle? The characters weren’t fully fleshed out? You hated the font? It’s like telling a chef the food wasn’t good enough to bother eating. Excuse me, while I go throw myself into a lake!

#2) There’s not enough sex in your book. Sigh. If you want lots of graphic content, you’re just not going to get that from me. Is it possible to enjoy a book that isn’t sexually explicit? If the answer is no, I’m not your author.  We will shake hands and agree to disagree.

#3) I don’t read. Acck! Really? Like, at all? This one is perhaps the most discouraging of all. I hear it a lot from folks who get their entertainment in other ways, T.V., computer games, etc. Maybe it’s the teacher in me, but when I hear folks say they haven’t read a book since high school, I am saddened.

Are there phrases that really cut you to the quick? Would love to hear your thoughts. Giving away a Starbuck’s card, signed book and a cute fall surprise this month. 

And our August winner is….

And our August winner is…..D.L! Congrats to you and thank you to all who participated on my blog this month. Great discussions!

D.L., if you hop on my website and choose a book, I’ll mail it out with your Amazon gift card. Send me a message with your address. :)

 

 

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Music to an author’s ears….top three compliments that thrill.

 

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The job of the professional writer takes place mostly in darkened rooms or at out-of-the-way coffee shop tables. We slave away, push the send button and through some miraculous process the manuscript turns into a book. It’s done mostly in isolation. Perhaps that’s why writers covet those hard-to-earn words of praise. Here are the top three comments guaranteed to thrill any writer any time.

#1) “I couldn’t put it down.” Oh joy! All that endless agonizing over pace, plot, character arcs and such! There is no sweeter sentiment than hearing you’ve managed to create something compelling. If an element in your book captured a reader in some small way, you have completed  a writer’s greatest mission.

#2) “When will the next book come out?” Ah ha! Not only has someone enjoyed your book, but they are eager to check out more of your work? Priceless!

#3) “I could really relate to the characters.” What a sweet sentiment. Creating characters who are different but believable, multi-faceted but not over the top, and meaningful without being maudlin is not an easy task, I can tell you. Think about how many people in the world pass by you every day with whom you have no personal connection. The writer has a scant smattering of words, the briefest of moments, to make you connect with somebody whom you’ll only meet across the pages.

We all have that particular compliment that is sweet to our ears. What compliment do you most enjoy hearing? Giving away a signed book and an Amazon card tomorrow! Would love to hear your thoughts! 

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