Getting Organized

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I am a messy writer. When I am working on a story I have notes on index cards, in journals, on random pieces of paper lying around my apartment, on my computer. Piles and piles of notes.

I kept telling myself  

YOU NEED TO GET ORGANIZED

And so I did. I made myself two notebooks in which I could keep a few facts about my characters and settings and a place to keep ideas together.

Note that the preview may not be working. To look inside click on the titles or the links at the bottom of this post.

Author Notebook: Characters

Facts matter. Organize your writing by keeping track of your characters in one easy to access space while saving you time.

No more scattered notes, or messy files on your computer. No more having to search through your manuscript for factual information about your characters that keep your writing consistent.

 The details that are on the worksheets include the character’s physical appearance, place of residence, education, family ties, childhood, mannerisms, jobs, flaws, traits and goals.

Whether this is your first book or you’ve written several or have characters that appear in a series the Author Notebook will help you stay organized and focused on your writing.

The notebook has two parts. On the right is a fact page for you to fill in for each of your characters. On the left is a blank page for you to add notes as reminders, inspirations and ideas as you go along writing your book. It measures 6 x 9” (15.24 x22.86 cm) in size and has 102 pages.  

Author Notebook: Settings

A setting can bring life to your book, especially if it is fresh and unique. That is why it is so important. However, it is also important to vary your settings so as to keep your reader interested.

This notebook on settings is to help you keep track of the places your characters inhabit and their physical and emotional interaction with the setting.

A setting can conjure up memories that can help advance the plot and while different characters can be in the same setting, depending on their mood and past experiences, they will notice and react differently to the details of the setting.

The Author Notebook sheets help you to describe places, weather, seasons, sensual details, feelings and memories which a setting can trigger. This enables you, the author, to notice at a glance, whether you have varied these details and how your character relates to them.

The notebook has a sheet on the righthand side with the title of your book and the character’s name followed by three blocks of setting details.

On the left is a blank page to add your notes as you go along creating your story world. It measures 6×9” (15.24×22.86 cm) and contains 102 pages. 

Both notebooks are now available on Amazon:

Character Notebook

Setting Notebook

Bau: Let me Know When It’s Over

My Doggy Mom is still working on her book. Because she wants to change the title I am forced to endure hours lying next to her as she keeps searching for a suitable one. It’s enough to put a dog to sleep. I wonder if she spent that much time searching for my name.

Doggy Mom: Well, in fact, it was easier. You are of French origin and I wanted you to have a literary name.

Bau: As if I can read French!

Doggy Mom: I thought of Hugo, as in Victor Hugo, but I didn’t think that my daughter’s friend, Hugo, would appreciate me naming you after him.

Bau: He should have been honored.

Doggy Mom: So, anyway there was Baudelaire but that was too long. So I shortened it to Bau. Here in Montreal where almost everyone speaks French, when they ask what your name is, they think I mean Beau, which means handsome.

Bau: Oh, I quite like that!

Doggy Mom: Fits you perfectly. Anyway back to my book title.

Bau: Oh yeah (Yawn, Yawn). What was wrong with The Set Up? Lots of books have that title.

Doggy Mom: That’s the problem. I don’t want my book to get lost in the slush pile.

Bau: If that’s the case, you should have checked before wasting my time.

Doggy Mom: You’re right. Learn from my mistakes. Also the title gives the story plot away.

Bau: What about the cover?

Doggy Mom: Finally, I found what I was looking for. Now, I’m just waiting for the graphic designer to get back to me. Could be a few weeks. Of course there’s going to be the extra headache of formatting my book to fit Amazon standards.

Bau: Oh, boy! I think I’m going to go for a nap. Wake me when it’s over.

Bau: Can We Go For A Long Walk Now?

My Human Mom tells me that there are a lot of steps she still needs to do before she’s ready to publish her new novel.

Here are some things which I secretly know about it:

It’s a Domestic Crime Novel (Apparently that’s her favorite type of crime novel along with Domestic Noir novels).

She tells me because there is a Femme Fatale in her novel it might also be categorized as Domestic Noir.

She’s likely going to launch it in May (That’s a long time in doggy days). That’s if all goes well!

The title is The Set Up.

Here’s a tentative blurb for it:

Homeless sixteen-year-old Maya has found the perfect summer job – getting a cottage ready to serve as a half-way house to delinquent girls. A summer job where she won’t have to wonder where she’s going to sleep for a while. Being by the lake in nature will give her time to grieve the death of her mother. Best of all, she’s met Charlie, the boy who lives in the cottage next door who gives her the attention she craves and the promise of a bright future if she sticks with him. But Charlie has a very dark side and Maya becomes involved in a murderous scheme. What will happen to Maya now that she is being blamed for the murder by the police? Who can possibly help her?

I love to listen to my Human Mom read her manuscript out loud, but honestly, I’m disappointed because I’m not even in it!

In the meantime, you might want to have a look at my Human Mom’s other books on her author page. (Every time you click on one of her books I get a treat).

D. Wallace Peach: Liars and Thieves

My first thoughts in reading D. Wallace Peach’s novel Liars and Thieves (Unraveling the Veil: Book One) was how fluent the author is with the English language. I was grateful to be reading it on my Kindle if only for its instant dictionary as I searched for the meanings of Middle English Words.

After my initial struggle with the language, I found myself immersed in the story and invested in the characters:

Alue — an elf soldier,

Talin –a changeling

 Naj’ar — half-elf, half-goblin.

Together they try to keep peace but are confronted with the Force of Chaos.

For photos and detailed descriptions of these three main characters click on their names above. I only came across these descriptions (given by the author) of her characters after I had read the book. I was pleasantly surprised. They were not at all how I had envisioned elves, goblins and changelings!

Liars and Thieves is a character driven novel in which the setting also plays an important role. In Part One of this three-part series D. Wallace Peach creates a world where goblins inhabit the mountains, the elves the river plains, and the changelings the jungle. As I continued into the author’s world of transitional powers, racial conflicts, clans and crystals, I was transported into the political world of a legal thriller, its pace picking up as the novel progressed into a court case.

The story is narrated in third person from different perspectives but mostly from that of the three main characters. At times, the writing style reads like stage directions for a screenplay, and other times her descriptions are so deep and visual that you are magically transposed into her world of fantasy.

D. Wallace Peach possesses the gift of imagination and the talent to express it.

Writing Under A Pen Name

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of having an impromptu interview with Carrie Rubin about her usage of a pen name for her cozy mystery The Cruise Ship Lost My Daughter.

Carrie isn’t alone in using a pen name. In fact, she is in good company. Can you identify the well-known writers who wrote under these pen names? (answers are at the end of the post – no cheating!).

Robert Galbraith

Richard Bachman

Dan Kavanagh

Benjamin Black

Mary Westmacott

Claire Morgan

Back to Carrie and her pen name. Here are some questions which Carrie so graciously accepted to answer.

What made you write this book under another name?   

I decided to use a pen name for the cozy mystery because it’s a different genre than what I normally write. Readers develop expectations from a writer in terms of style and plot elements, and using different names for different genres can be helpful to avoid steering a reader down the wrong path. For example, while someone might enjoy the light and clean style of my cozy mystery, they might be put off by one of my thrillers, which tend to be dark and sometimes contain violence and profanity. So, I thought it made sense to differentiate the two genres by using different names.

Has this led to any confusion or marketing difficulties? 

Marketing is always difficult and definitely not my strong suit, but I think it’s actually made it easier in the sense that my website still presents me as a writer of genre-bending medical thrillers. If I add a humorous cozy mystery to my banner of books, it might be an odd contrast. That being said, my various profiles across the internet (e.g., on Amazon, on Goodreads, on my website) mention that I also have a cozy mystery written under a pen name, and Morgan Mayer’s profile mentions she also writes thrillers under my name, so hopefully any interested readers will find their way from one author name to the other.

Are you planning to write other books under Morgan Mayer? 

I’d love to, but I’m not sure how soon because it’ll depend on what happens on the traditional publishing front. Although my agent was wonderfully accommodating and accepted my desire to go indie with The Cruise Ship Lost My Daughter (much quicker path to publication than the traditional route), she currently has one of my unpublished manuscripts on submission and she’ll put another one on submission soon, so if they get deals, I’ll be busy with that for a while. Plus, I’m currently working on the third book in my Benjamin Oris thriller series. But if I get some downtime in between, it would be a lot of fun to write another cozy mystery!

What are advantages to writing under two names?

Aside from what I mentioned above, writing under different names gives an author a chance to experiment a bit. Allows them to write something they haven’t before without clouding the image of their usual line of work.

Here’s what to do if you’re thinking of using a pen name?

Here are the answers to the famous authors pen names.

JK Rowling – Robert Galbraith

Stephen King – Richard Bachman

Julian Barnes – Dan Kavanagh

Agatha Christie – Mary Westmacott

Patricia Highsmith – Claire Morgan

Toni Pike: Desolation Bluff

I recently came across a post on Derek Murphy’s website titled Best Self-Publishing Companies for Indie Authors (that aren’t scams).

You can go to his website to read the entire post (which I found interesting and informative). Since this is a post about Toni Pike’s novel Desolation Bluff I want to draw your attention to a section of Derek Murphy’s post that I find fits perfectly with Toni Pike’s novel.

When you put your book cover, your hook, tagline or teaser in front of the right readership, they understand it’s the kind of book they enjoy reading. The benefits are obvious. They click on the cover and read the blurb. Sounds good. They check out the reviews. If they trust the positive ones, they’ll consider buying it and check the price.

Cover

 Blurb

Reviews

 Price

COVER AND BLURB

Blind romance author Oliver Cameron uses the pen name of Fidel Amore and thinks he has the perfect life at his country estate near Desolation Bluff. After a honeymoon in Paris, his wife Vanessa continues her work as his assistant. His friend Ray is the business manager who lives in the gatehouse and also acts as the public face of Fidel Amore, doing all those book-signing trips that Oliver never wanted to attend. Helen Dunkley is the housekeeper devoted to him since childhood – but she detests the two newcomers.

Complications set in when Ray, working on his old car, accidentally backs into Oliver. His injuries appear minor but the next day he suddenly regains his sight. Oliver wants Ray and Vanessa to be the first to hear his good news, but when he finds them he uncovers a shocking betrayal.
A game of cat and mouse begins – and with the arrival of a mysterious stranger, it turns deadly.

A short suspense novel that will keep you guessing right to the very end.

REVIEWS

More than 30 reviews on Goodreads . Most of them 5 Stars. Here are some of them:

Fast moving and suspenseful from start to finish (Peter Springer)

Packed with Suspense and Action (Sally Cramer)

Quickly engaging and a page flipper (Terri Schrandt)

From the first paragraph, I could sense something ominous in the atmosphere, which stayed all through the background (Sherry H.)

This book was a thoroughly enjoyable read with interesting characters and great plot twist to keep me hooked all the way through to a most satisfying ending!  (D.G. Kaye)

PRICE

$2.99 Canadian which is pretty inexpensive for three and a half hours of enjoyable entertainment.

As for the content, I was not disappointed. The cover, blurb and reviews delivered. It was a fun ride where justice is rendered by a shrewd blind man who accidently regains his sight and discovers that his wife is engaged in a love affair with his assistant. A story of betrayal between good and bad. Definitely a page turner.

Noir Fiction’s “little black dress”.

Carrie Rubin: The Bone Hunger

I received a copy of The Bone Hunger as part of Carrie Rubin’s recent give-away. Thank you, Carrie.

Imagine going for a walk in the park with your young son, his mother and a yellow lab and you come upon a leg. Not just any leg but a chewed-up leg that you recognize as one you helped place an orthopedic implant into.  

Such is how The Bone Hunger begins and once again, Benjamin Oris is the protagonist of Carrie Rubin’s second medical mystery thriller. Oris first appeared in The Bone Curse.

Rubin, herself a physician who has turned novelist, brings credibility to the detailed medical aspects of the novel from the tense, focused staff during surgery; the oversized egos of power hungry surgeons; the conflict for recognition; the pressures that lead to drug addiction and a front seat view of orthopedic surgery.

Benjamin Oris is a second-year resident orthopedics surgeon filled with career ambitions but this finding of one of his patient’s legs places a hamper on his drive to win the Conley Research Grant.  When another severed leg is found in another park and then another, it is obvious to the orthopedic team that they are looking at a serial killer. Could this killer be one of their own? There are many suspects in this terrifying whodunit novel, each with credible motives.

Besides the medical viewpoints of the novel there is also a personal and dramatic side to Dr. Oris. Oris is a likeable character with integrity and modesty. Here we see the tenderness and concern that Oris has for his son but also for his mother who is in a coma, his father who has recently lost his partner and his relationship with his companion Laurette, a public health student from Haiti who adds a touch of paranormal to the novel.  

Carrie Rubin seamlessly juggles many characters in this novel (from the hospital staff, to Oris’ personal relationships and family). The unique plot is both action oriented and character driven. The conflict is high in tension while the writing style is fast paced.

The story is mainly told in the third person but Rubin uses the first person as she lets us get into the head of the killer and his eerie obsession for flesh and blood.  

An interesting read about orthopedic surgery but also a compelling thriller.

Carrie Rubin is also the author of an entertaining cozy mystery The Cruise Ship Lost My Daughter under the name Morgan Mayer. You can read my Amazon review here.

Margot Kinberg: A Matter of Motive

Two things which kept me this week from spending time on a current novel I am trying to write were President Joe Biden’s inauguration and Margot Kinberg’s latest novel and the first in her new Patricia Stanley series, A Matter of Murder.

A man is dead in his car, slumped over the steering wheel. But who killed him? Ron Clemens is the last person you’d think would be murdered. His wife and son love him. His employees respect him. His business is doing well. His clients seek him out. But someone wanted him dead. The Clemens case is a golden opportunity for newly minted police detective Patricia Stanley to prove herself. It’s her first murder investigation, and she wants to do well. But it’s not going to be easy. For one thing, she has plenty to learn about handling a murder. And nearly everyone involved in this one is hiding something. Patricia faces her own challenges, too, as the investigation brings back the murder of an old love.

Margot Kinberg (also the author of the Joel William series) is very knowledgeable when it comes to crime fiction and, in particular, Agatha Christie. Go to her select month box in her crime-fictional website and click on any date. You are bound to find something on Christie.

In The Creative Brain (a very interesting documentary which I recently watched on Netflix written and produce by Dr David Eagleman based on the book: “The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes The World” by Anthony Brandt and David Eagleman.) there is a section by the Pulitzer Prize winner and much regarded novelist Michael Chabon: “I’m going to allow my knowledge of my predecessors and their work to inform and help shape what I’m doing not because I’m trying to copy them but because I know my unique experience is going to help me intervene to help produce a work that is not like its antecedents in some way.” 

It A Matter of Murder Margot Kinberg uses motive as the driving force of her novel. Taking what she’s learnt from studying Christie, Margot Kinberg’s novel is a unique whodunit.

The main character, Patricia Stanley, a gay woman who is trying to juggle the difficulties which being a cop poses on her relationship along with her investigation in her first murder case, is a delightful character full of good intentions and many missteps. Besides being a whodunit, this is also a novel about how police go about investigating a murder. This investigation kept me reading way into the night. I was not only curious about finding who the murderer was but was also interested in the process of the investigation itself.

I have a feeling that we will hear more of Patricia Stanley and her side kick Luke Enders. I for one, hope so. This is a fun read with an interesting cast of characters.