Thursday, August 9, 2018

A New Publishing Contract

I have just signed a contract with Encircle Publications for the publication of the sequel to my sports mystery, Court Trouble. The new book is titled, Paradise Court, A Pickleball Mystery. It features the sport of pickleball, the fastest growing sport in the country. I played competitive tennis as a kid and in college and later in life switched over to platform tennis (the sport featured in Court Trouble) when living in Colorado. When my wife and I moved to Southern California three years ago, I switched once again to pickleball. For those of you not familiar with pickleball, it’s played with a paddle and a wiffle ball on a small court.

Paradise Court takes place on Maui with lots of island intrigue and is scheduled for release in May of 2019.
 

Thursday, August 2, 2018

A Family Vacation

We just returned from a family vacation. My wife and I, our three kids and their spouses, and our five grandkids ranging from three to eighteen went to Disney’s Aulani on Oahu. It’s like a private water park for hotel guest with water slides, a lazy river, splash pads, pools, hot tubs, a beach, snorkeling, a luau, a Disney character breakfast and many family activities.

My wife and I celebrated our 50th anniversary with our close family members. During this trip, I did no writing. Family and relaxing were the whole agenda


Thursday, July 26, 2018

Location in My Novels

Location plays a key role in my novels. I tend to use real locations (only one of my mystery novels, Mystery of the Dinner Playhouse, has a fictional city although thinly disguised for Boulder, CO).

In my Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery Series, books take place in Hawaii, Colorado, California and on an Alaskan cruise. These are all locations I’m familiar with. Since Paul Jacobson is a crime magnet, I move his around to different locations so that he doesn’t decimate the population in any one locale.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Some of My Favorite Characters in My Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery Series

I’ve been asked which of the characters in my mystery novels I like most. In my Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery Series there are a number.

First of all is the protagonist, octogenarian Paul Jacobson. He comes across as a curmudgeon but underneath has a heart of gold. In spite of short-term memory loss, he becomes an amateur sleuth and even has a romance with a young chick in her seventies.

Second is Paul’s granddaughter, Jennifer. She helps her grandfather solve crimes, and in later books in the series, they tell each other politically incorrect geezer jokes.

Next is Henry Palmer. Henry is on the autism spectrum, lacks social graces, and has a keen sense of observation. Paul and Henry have a running insult fest.

Finally, introduced in book five of the series, we have Madeline Hightower. She is a force of nature and marries Henry.

All of these characters contribute to the story and have their comedic elements.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Writing Quirky Characters

One of the things I enjoy in writing mystery novels is to introduce humorous and quirky secondary characters. They can contribute to solving the mystery, get in the way or provide comic relief.

In my first published novel, Retirement Homes Are Murder, I originally planned to kill off one of these secondary characters. My editor, Deni Dietz, intelligently pointed out that I might want to keep this character around for future books in the series. She was right. Instead, he suffered a heart attack but survived for another day to keep up the banter with my protagonist. Readers liked that this character continued to be present in other books in the series.

Quirky characters sometimes have a life of their own. They appear and then start playing more of a role in the story. This is fine just as long as they don’t usurp the position of the protagonist.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Writing Humor

I enjoy reading humorous books and writing humor in my mystery novels. Humor fits in well in mysteries because good humor surprises the reader, and mysteries are all about surprises anyway.

I’ve been fortunate to be a finalist twice for The Lefty Award for best humorous mystery. These were two books in the Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery Series, Living with Your Kids Is Murder and Cruising in Your Eighties Is Murder.

Along my writing journey, I’ve learned several things about writing humor.

First, you can’t force it. It has to be natural and fit into the story.

Second, certain characters cry out to be humorous. Once they get started, you can’t change them into stodgy types.

Finally, as a writer it’s a true joy when something humorous comes out of my keyboard and causes me to laugh. This keeps me going.

 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Relearning an Old Skill

The saying goes that you never forget how to ride a bicycle. Not so for all skills. I’ve had two experiences in the last six months with relearning old skills.

The first case: tennis. I played competitive tennis as a kid and in college. As I aged and my joints began to suffer from arthritis, I gave up tennis to play similar sports on smaller courts, first platform tennis and most recently pickleball. I learned to play these sports, but I didn’t return to tennis. Recently, I went out to hit some tennis balls with a neighbor. The court seemed huge and the longer racquet presented problems for me. I improved a little over an hour’s time, but realized my skill level was abysmal. To regain a reasonable skill level I would have to really practice.

The second example: juggling. Thirty-five years ago I taught myself to juggle. I got fairly proficient, but then life intervened, and I didn’t continue. Recently, I decided to see if I could still juggle. The answer was a swift, no. Since then I have been practicing. I have been making very slow progress. The muscle memory isn’t there, and I have to revive it. With aging, my timing isn’t what it used to be and I get tired. Still, I’m going to stick with it. I have to see if I can get good enough to entertain my almost three-year-old grandson.