Monday, October 29, 2012

Rejection Is Not a Four Letter Word

Whenever one of my books is published, I put together a new presentation to give to groups when I’m invited to speak. My next book, Cruising in Your Eighties Is Murder, will be published in December, so I’ve started collecting material for my presentation, titled, Rejection Is Not a Four Letter Word. I’ll be speaking about how, as authors, we must become immune to rejection, since it comes with the territory. I’ve collected some rejections from famous authors. Here’s one for Agatha Christie’s first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles: “It is very interesting and has several good points, but is not quite suitable for our list.” Sound familiar? Here’s the exact wording of a rejection letter I received two months ago: “We’re afraid that the project you propose does not seem right for our list.” In this one regard, nothing has changed in the last ninety years. As writers we have to have perseverance and write through the rejection. My consolation is that I have three published novels with two more under contract.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Next Big Thing

Camille Minichino included me in a blog chain answering the following questions:

What is your working title of your book?
Cruising in Your Eighties Is Murder

Where did the idea come from for the book?
My wife, daughter and I went on an Alaskan cruise in 2006. The places we visited and the shipboard life begged to be turned into a murder mystery, and so it has.

What genre does your book fall under?
Geezer-lit mystery (cozy)

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Clint Eastwood as protagonist Paul Jacobson.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
On an Alaskan cruise, cantankerous octogenarian Paul Jacobson, who struggles with short-term memory loss, must deal with mayhem, missing people and murder and use all his geezer resources to solve a case of international intrigue.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will be published December 19, 2012, by Five Star (an imprint of Cengage Learning)

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Six months. I wrote this draft while I was still working full time. After reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, I adapted her Morning Pages technique. Every morning before going to work, I wrote three handwritten pages of my manuscript. When I came home from work, I entered these pages into the computer, doing an editing pass.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Killer Cruise by Laura Levine, Atomic Lobster by Tim Dorsey, and Murder on the QE2 by Donald Bain.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery Series was originally inspired by people I met when my mom and stepfather lived in a retirement home. Cruising in Your Eighties Is Murder was specifically inspired by the events of the Alaskan cruise I took.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The climax to the book takes place in Butchart Gardens in Victoria, Canada. This is a beautiful place, but you’ll never think of it the same after what happens there in my novel.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Murder Trial

This week I’ve been sitting in on parts of a murder trial. This is a cold case from 1994 that was reopened in 2011, and an original suspect is being brought to trial. What’s interesting is that all the evidence is circumstantial. There were no witnesses who saw the gun being fired, no gun found and no direct confirmation that the accused was at the scene of the murder. There is evidence that the accused bought a gun, although he told the police in 1994 he didn’t, and that he had in his possession the type of ammunition that killed the victim. He also was earlier convicted of stealing checks from the victim and forging checks. The trial will continue next week and I’m going to try to hear more of the testimony.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Financial Challenge of Aging

Since I write mysteries about older people, I’m interested in topics of aging. I’m also co-chair of the Boulder County Aging Advisory Council. At our meeting this last Friday, we heard about the Elder Economic Security Standard Index for Colorado. This showed how much annual income a person 65+ requires to meet basic needs, assuming good health. For an individual owning a house without a mortgage this is $17,664 in Colorado. For a couple with a mortgage the amount is $38,676. For elders living only on Social Security, this is an issue. The further compounding is that if an individual requires long-term care for 36 hours a week of care, an additional $43, 632 per year is required. Social Security was envisioned to be one leg of a three-legged stool of Social Security, pensions and savings. Unfortunately, pensions have dried up, and few organizations provide them. People in low economic situations can’t afford to save along the way. So when it comes time to retire, many people are relying entirely on Social Security, which won’t cover their basic needs. If you have been able to provide a complete three-legged stool for your retirement, consider yourself fortunate.