Thursday, July 18, 2019

Using Reality in Fiction

How much reality should be used when writing fiction? As a fiction writer, I try to make my scenes credible and often mix reality with fiction. In the historical fiction I’ve written, I portray actual events and people but in a fictional context. Since we don’t know what people actually said, I invent dialogue relating to what I think they said. Typically, the main plot, often a mystery, is fictional but my intent is to keep the time and setting as real as possible.

As fiction writers we need to make our stories credible enough so the readers can suspend disbelief. When we read fiction, we know that things are made up, but they need to be made up in a credible way.

One of my recent mystery novels, Death of a Scam Artist, is available in trade paperback and e-book editions. In September it will also be released in a mass market paperback edition by Harlequin Worldwide Mysteries. This mystery is set in a fictional retirement community populated with a number of quirky characters. One of the main themes is dealing with a scam artist who is taking advantage of the retirement home residents. Some of the examples of his scams are based on actual scams. Likewise, the opening scene is loosely based on an actual event described to me by a friend who is the CEO of a retirement community.
I enjoy testing the line between fiction and reality.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Vacation on the California Coast

We had an enjoyable short vacation with kids and grandkids in Pismo Beach, CA. This is the first time in about 40 years that we’ve gone north along the coast from the Los Angeles Area. Lots of good food and scenery and happy times with the new generations.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Grandkid Visits

We’ve had the pleasure of seeing all of our grandsons over the last week. Our son and his family from Iowa have been visiting us, and we’ve also gotten together with our other two grandsons.

This is what keeps us young.


Thursday, June 27, 2019

Reversion of Book Rights

At the beginning of my writing career, I worked with Five Star who published nine of my mystery novels (six in the Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery Series, a theater mystery, a historical mystery and a sports mystery). Then Five Star decided to exit the mystery publishing line, so I found a new publisher, Encircle Publications. Recently, all rights to the nine Five Star books were reverted to me. Seven have been republished by Encircle as trade paperbacks and we’re discussing republishing the remaining two.

Originally, Five Star didn’t ask for e-book rights, so I published four e-books myself. With the final reversion of rights I have now republished the five remaining Five Star books as e-books.

My goal is to keep all of my books available in print and e-book (eight are also available as audio books). This way readers can choose their preferred way to read my books. Also, when I give talks to service organizations, libraries and book clubs, I always hand sell print copies so it’s important to me to have all of these still in print.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Aging Gratefully

I’ve given a presentation titled “How to Age Gracefully” about my experience writing books featuring older people. Earlier this week I was struck by an article titled, “Why I Learned to Age, Gratefully,” by writer, Rachel Moscovich, in the Los Angeles Times. As a multiple-time cancer survivor, rather than dreading aging, she has come to look forward to become older.

I share Rachel’s perspective. After surviving a heart attack in 2013, I’m grateful to be alive and to have the opportunity to age. As my stepdad used to say, getting older isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but it sure beats the alternative.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

After a Writers Conference

I have been attending writers conferences since 2002. When I lived in Colorado, I attended the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference annually. It was through this conference that I sold my first published book, Retirement Homes Are Murder, as a result of a pitch session to Deni Dietz of Five Star. Since moving to Southern California in 2015, I planned to attend the California Crime Writers Conference but was only able to go this year.

After a writers conference, I always come away inspired with new ideas. In previous writers conferences I have come up with insights that led to new manuscripts. I also have enjoyed the opportunity to mingle with other writers and to make new friends.

After the California Crime Writers Conference this last weekend, I came home with notes and action items to follow up on including new promotional and speaking opportunities. Wherever I am in my writing journey, writers conferences always provide a boost.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Are There Rules for Writing Genres and Should an Author Stick to One Genre?

Since I write primarily mysteries, I’m always interested in purported “rules” for various sub-genres of mysteries. Most of my mystery novels are on the cozy end of the spectrum. It’s often stated that cozies should have no sex, no swearing and no on screen violence. In my Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery Series, I violate two of these rules with geezer romance and a protagonist who cusses. I even received a one-star review for language (Paul uses hell and damn).

Here’s my take. I write what I enjoy reading and to tell the story I want to tell. When I started I didn’t even know about these “rules.” Now that I’ve heard about then, I still don’t follow them. I also don’t stick to strict genres. I have two novels that mix mystery and paranormal elements. I mix mystery and romance (I was a card carrying member of Romance Writers of America for several years). As well as my six book amateur sleuth series, other mysteries include historical, private eye, theater, professional organizer, sports, a thriller and a biography of a World War II veteran.

For me it’s challenging and interesting to try different subject matter.