Ten Tips On Writing Mysteries

First off, these writing tips are not just for mystery writers. Gail Bowen is the author of the Joanne Kilbourn mysteries. She’s written 16 of them so far and if you’re a fan of Joanne Kilbourne you’ll learn a lot about her in this book. Secondly, the tips aren’t just for writers of series although quite a long section in a chapter titled Creating a Robust Series is devoted to that.

  1. When writing take breaks. Well, this is hardly new advice but the author suggests writing for twenty-five minutes and then take five-minute breaks. I’ve tried it and set my timer for twenty-five minutes which works marvelously well and am always surprised at how quickly the time goes by and how I get into my writing although my five-minute breaks tend to be much longer.
  2. Write early in the morning. She gets up at five am to write claiming that two hours of writing in the mourning is worth four hours of writing later in the day. I’m with her on that although not that early!  
  3. Select brief but telling details about weather and its effect on character in order to create a mood to draw the reader into the story.
  4. Make your characters deeply flawed so that your reader will be able to identify and connect with them.
  5. Use minor characters to lighten the mood while still keeping the plot moving.
  6. Give your first draft a rigorous edit before sending it off. Rigorous being the operative word.
  7. Try to give your book a title as early in the process as possible. This will guide you in keeping to the theme of your novel.  
  8. Almost every piece of writing can be improved if you cut it by a third (ouch!)
  9. Your first obligation as a writer is to offer a powerful human story.
  10. If you can’t imagine your life without writing, then you’re a real writer. Stay the course.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore Update – #Reviews – #CrimeThriller Carol Balawyder, #Poetry Victoria Zigler, #Family Lisette Brodey

I am so grateful to Sally for promoting my latest crime novel Just Before Sunrise and Jacqui Murray’s generous review of it. Jacqui also has a new book out: The Laws of Nature which is receiving phenomenal reviews. Besides my novel’s review here, you can read about two other wonderful books. Victoria Zigler’s provocative poetry book on writing, creativity, death, grief and covid 19 and Lizette Brodey’s touching novel on grief, hope and healing. I am so happy to have discovered these two wonderful and dedicated writers who help nourish our collective souls.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the Cafe and Bookstore update with recent reviews for authors on the shelves.

The first author with a recent review for her latest release is Carol Balawyder – a coming of age crime thriller...Just Before Sunrise

About the book

A coming-of-age story with a domestic noir twist.

Nadine, tired of running her call-girl agency has upgraded to gold digger as she finds the perfect rich widower to marry. Discovering that her wealthy widower is an abuser she seduces his stepson, Charlie, to plot her husband’s murder.

But things don’t go as planned and soon she is turning to her experience hiring young call-girls to find the perfect girl to save her from going to prison…

Homeless Maya is drifting on the streets, grieving the recent loss of her mother.
When she is offered the opportunity to prepare a lake-side house to be used as a half-way…

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National Day of Remembrance For Victims Of Honor Crimes

I am a bit late in posting this remembrance day for victims of honor crimes but we should remember everyday that honor killings are part of our domestic violence landscape. The post’s link will take you to the individual cases. 

The Human Lens

The 14th July is now the National Day of Remembrance for victims of honor based abuse. This date has been chosen as it marks the birthday of Shafilea Ahmed, who was born in Bradford and murdered in Warrington, UK in 2003 by her parents in an honor based killing.

Set up by national charity Karma Nirvana, in memory of Shafilea Ahmed, it is now the annual #DayofMemory where #WeRemember those who have lost their lives to so-called #HonourKillings.

To support the day, Hertfordshire’s Domestic Abuse Partnership is calling on everyone to look out for signs of such abuse. In addition, Karma Nirvana also calls for raising voices through the social media to raise awareness of these issues with the official hashtags #WeRemember and #DayofMemory.

In memory of the innocent girls and women who lost their lives to the barbaric custom of honor related crimes, here’s a summary recap of The…

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Darlene Foster: Amanda in Arabia

I have been following Darlene Foster’s blog for sometime now and had often told myself that I would want to read one of her books.

Lately, I’d been emersed in a lot of adult literary fiction and so this past weekend, I was looking for something to read which wouldn’t be too demanding on my exhausted brain cells. A book that a middle school child could handle.

So far, Darlene has eight Amanda adventure books, each one set in different countries: Spain, Holland, England, Arabia and Malta or in different states or provinces: Alberta, New Mexico or The Danube.

I had debated whether I wanted to read one of the adventures set in a place I had already visited but finally settled on the exotic, the foreign, somewhere I will likely never visit: The United Arab Emirates or as the locals refer to it as either the UAE or simply the Emirates.

Amanda, a twelve-year-old girl from Alberta, Canada, is visiting her aunt and uncle in the Emirates where she befriends an English girl living in the same apartment building. The two girls explore powder-soft white sandy beaches – spotless with its clear blue water, a deserted Bedouin village, impressive and dangerous desert dunes and sandstorms.

Then, there is the magical “Lawrence of Arabia” fairy-tale (After all there is a perfume flask which reminded me of Aladdin’s lamp, reference to flying carpets and a princess who needs saving). There is also the chaos of camel races and a kidnapping.

My favorite part was Amanda riding a camel in the desert – I never thought I’d be so interested in camels before reading this book.

There is also a scene where a boy is sand boarding in the desert dunes which brought back tender memories of my visit to Mui Ne Sand Dunes near Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where, there too, boys sand boarded.

Reading Amanda in Arabia was like taking a mini vacation to a colorful and fascinating country learning a bit about their culture. It was encouraging how Amanda found everything about her visit amazing, whether it was the women covering their faces, the soothing sounding call to prayer five times a day, the friendliness of the people and the little goats climbing trees.

When I was ten or so I would order a bunch of Scholastic novels for my summer reading and would be so excited when they arrived. It is easy for me to imagine that I would have been just as excited to have received Darlene Foster’s Amanda series had they existed then.

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”.

Jacqui Murray: Against All Odds

It is ironic, I suppose, that my first post while learning how to use the new WordPress Block Editor is on Jacqui Murray’s latest novel Against All Odds. I say this because I am not very techy but Jacqui is a tech geek and trainer. I am quite certain that we’ll soon find some WordPress Block Editor tips on her blog.

https://jacquimurray.net/blogs/my-techie-side/

What has taken me hours to maneuver around this new WordPress editor and listening to YouTube tutorials would surely have taken Jacqui a much, much shorter time to process this new information.

Tech training requires analytical skills and sound research, two qualities which are present in her novels.

Spread throughout her novel are lovely literary gems bringing life to the many prehistoric settings the novel takes us to.

Xhosa increased their pace, up and down one rise and another, through a copse of lonely trees, and then around a rock formation as big as a family of elephants.

Xhosa trotted into the grove of narrow trees with spiky leaves, over a carpet of ankle-high leaves that muffled her footsteps. Her feet made a soft swishing noise as she walked, like the murmur of stream.

The enchanting names for her characters (Pan-do, Red Wolf, Spirit, Black Wolf, Seeker, Rainbow… give the story a fairy-tale fantasy genre. Although, Against All Odds is a fictitious story of migration in pre-historic times it also based on pre-historic reality.

Xhosa is the heroine and leader. She is on a mission to find for herself and her People a home base. She exhorts leadership traits such as empathy, caring for others, and collaboration with other tribes. Her kindness and persistence bring other tribes to join her fight for survival

…despite extreme adversity, well-equipped predators, and a violent natural environment that routinely asks them to do the impossible.

Jacqui Murray is a writers’ writer as well as being a writer for lovers of pre-historic fiction and strong female heroines.

If you’re feeling, like me, frustrated with learning this new editor, take a break and read Jacqui’s book. It will take you far away from the world of technology. Now how can I add a smiley emoji?

Blogger Recognition Award

 

Blogger recognition award

Award Plaque by Sally Cronin

Thank you to D.G. Kaye at dgkayewriter  for nominating me for the Blogger Recognition Award.

With each award there are rules of courtesy to follow. Here are the rules:

Rules:

1. Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
2. Write a post to show your award.
3. Give a brief story of how your blog started.
4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
5. Select up to fifteen bloggers you want to give this award to.
6. Comment (or pingback) on each blog to let them know that you’ve nominated them and provide a link to the post you’ve created.

How my blog got started

This was one of my first posts on a blog I named A Girl Called Brenda.

Posted on July 24, 2010

Writer: A Profession Like No Other

Brenda had just completed all the revisions on her novel. She’d been working steadily on it for three and a half years and now it was finished. She had sent her synopsis to a publishing house and the editor now asked to see her manuscript. She felt elated.
The next morning her sister called. “I’m having a bar-b-q for the family,” she said. “Do you want to come?”
“Guess what?” Brenda said, “I’ve finished my novel.”

“That’s nice,” her sister said. “What do you want to bring?”
“I’ve got a publisher and I’m sending it this morning to the editor.”
“Bring potato salad. Our mother’s recipe.”
At the bar-b-q Brenda placed her potato salad on the table and took off the plastic wrap over it. Her aunt who was standing next to her said, “How have you been, dear?’
“I’ve just sent out a manuscript to a publisher.”
“It’s nice to have a hobby,” her aunt said. “Your potato salad looks good. Is that your mother’s recipe?”
Then a cousin whom she hadn’t seen in a long time spotted her. “Hey,” he said, “How it do, Brendy? Long time no see.”
There were reasons for that, Brenda thought but was keeping them to herself. No sense ruining her sister’s bar-b-q. “Yeah, well, I’ve been busy writing my crime novel. I sent it out yesterday.”
“No shit, Sherlock. I always thought I could write a novel. Can’t be too difficult. I’ve got a few crazy tales up here myself,” he said pointing to his head.
“I bet,” Brenda said. “Excuse me,” she told her cousin, “I have to talk to grandma.”
“I heard you say that you finished your manuscript,” her grandmother told her.
At last, someone in her family was taking an interest in her writing.
“I did, grandma,” Brenda said glowing. “Three and a half years and I finally sent it out.”
“Oh my, how many pages is it?” her grandmother asked her.
“Five hundred and thirty,” Brenda said. “Double spaced.”
Her grandmother’s face lit up. “Do you have any ruined sheets?”
“What do you mean?”
“I just thought that maybe if you had any extra pages that didn’t come out you can give them to me to line my budgie’s cage. Newspaper is so messy.”

It was also on this blog that I posted my Ten Great First Dates series which I eventually migrated to my current blog and shut down A Girl Called Brenda.

Two pieces of advice for new bloggers:

  1. Check out all the WordPress Tutorials for beginners on YouTube. There’s lots of easy to follow advice.
  2.  Remember that you are not the only one who bloggers are reading so be efficient. Avoid Anna Karenina length posts on your blog. Short and sweet is better than seemingly endless.

I’ve chosen to nominate some new bloggers I’ve discovered whose blogs are inspiring, positive and beautiful.

Lost in Nowhere  

Pups&Prose

Site Title: Pictures

Show Pictures  

Ideal Inspiration

Aria-Bela Rises  

Debby

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/signote/

 

 

 

Sally Cronin’s What’s In a Name? Vol. 2

I like to read in bed to get drowsy. Short stories are gratifying in this way because they allow me to hold my eyes open long enough to reach the end of the story. However, in reading Sally’s stories I found her endings reeling me in for just one more story as I fought sleep.

What’s In a Name Vol. 2 contains 16 stories.  Sally Cronin writes honest fiction that reaches the depth of real life, yet her stories are like bubble bath in a warm tub.
It was D.J. Kaye’s post that got me to read Sally’s book:

Cronin’s writing has a way of taking us into the character’s emotions, evoking an emotion in us in return, be it angst, fear, passion or grief. 

The characters in these stories – fortune tellers, con artists, arrogant narcissists, lovers – display courage, revenge, disappointments, romance and sacrifice. Some of the stories are bittersweet, some with surprising endings, many imaginative and all with just enough to satisfy.

Like D.G. Kaye, my favourite story was also about two beloved Xenias -a tender love story among three generations set in a lovely Greek garden.

If you feel like a little luxury treat read this book  – maybe while soaking in a bath.

whats-in-a-name-volume-two-by-sally-cronin

Available:https://www.amazon.co.uk/Whats-Name-Volumes-1-2/dp/1905597797

Visit Sally’ blog at https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

 

Annika Perry’s The Storyteller Speaks

 

I have been following Annika’s blog for some time now and am always eager to hear what she has to say. Whether she writes about her reflections on the extraordinary-ness of life; providing tips for writers; reviewing books; or writing about journeys taken, Annika writes with a sense of profoundness mixed in with whimsy. 
Such is also the case in her collection The Storyteller Speaks.

 

annika perry

Her descriptions shine. Take as example where, in Biding Her Time a young girl  “…smiled sweetly, shaking her head, her long pigtails waving apologetically, the red bows catching the sunlight.” Or her humorous side in Chillies in My Handbag where she “feel(s) the reassuring caress of soft leather – my red Hermes handbag. Subconsciously I bend over and stroke it, with a final pat on the side. My surrogate pet.”
Then there are her stories of death. In A Bouquet of White: “First when they were young its reality as remote as the planets they gazed upon, with the unflagging belief in their own invincibility.” And her most touching and loving piece in memory of her grandfather in Loss of a Patriarch – “A farewell hug to last a lifetime.”

Perry’s stories are emotional pieces. Moving and honest. Filled with love and beautiful imagination.

The Storyteller Speaks Available at:

Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/STORYTELLER-SPEAKS-Powerful-Stories-Heart-ebook/dp/B0789KZVF8/

Amazon US https://www.amazon.com/STORYTELLER-SPEAKS-Powerful-Stories-Heart-ebook/dp/B0789KZVF8/

Jacqui Murray’s Blog Hop

I am extremely proud to be part of Jacqui Murray’s amazing Blog Hop for  Twenty-four Days, the latest in her Rowe-Delamagente tech-thriller series.

I first got to know Jacqui through her tips for writers on her blog – which, btw, I am envious of its clean and easy to navigate interface. https://worddreams.wordpress.com/

Jacqui Murray, as far as I can tell, is a techy and – dare I say – a little bit of a geek?

 So, it’s no surprise that her novel is heavily heavenly sprinkled with – in her own words – “edgy science.”

In this novel you’ll encounter a robot that’s capable of self-awareness and expressing emotions. You’ll get a front row seat to invisible warships and dive into the inner workings of the warship cruiser, the USS Bunker Hill ( a cruiser which Jacqui’s daughter served on as an officer – talk about having a great research connection!).

I have a lot of admiration for Jacqui’s accomplishment in writing this series, not only because of the authenticity of the technology detailed in the novel but also because of her talent in putting together believable characters in an intriguing plot about a subject reflective of our times.

Synopsis of Twenty-four Days:

A former SEAL, a brilliant scientist, a love-besotted nerd, and a quirky AI have twenty-four days to stop a terrorist attack. The problems: They don’t know what it is, where it is, or who’s involved.

Twenty-four Days

 

http://twitter.com/worddreams

http://facebook.com/kali.delamagente

http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher

http://linkedin.com/in/jacquimurray

https://plus.google.com/u/0/102387213454808379775/posts

Available at: Kindle USKindle UKKindle Canada