Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Left Coast Crime Conference

One of my favorite mystery conferences is coming up: The Left Coast Crime Conference in Reno from March 22 through March 25. This is a wonderful gathering of mystery fans and writers to exchange ideas and explore the world of mystery/crime/suspense/thriller novels.

I will be moderating the Meet the New Authors Breakfast where we will introduce, at current count, nineteen authors who have published their first mystery novel within the last year.

I also have the opportunity to moderate a panel titled, What Kind of Fool An I? Writing in More Than One Genre. Panelists include a group of terrific writers: Maegan Beaumont, Daryl Wood Gerber, Phoef Sutton and Keith Tittle. During this panel we will explore the idea of branding a book that covers multiple genres and branding an author who writes in multiple genres.

Hope to see you there.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Conflicting Emotions

As I watch my two-and-a-half year old grandson, it brings back memories of my childhood. He loves playing with balloons. We play balloon catch, balloon volleyball, balloon soccer and balloon baseball. But balloons also scare the dickens out of him when they pop. When he comes over weekday mornings, he will go over to a bin that has a balloon in it and say, “Balloon pop.”  He’s always hesitant at first to play with the balloon until he gets into the game.

I remember a similar reaction I had as a small child. My dad belonged to an Elks Club. In a storage area near the parking area was stored a stuffed elk. When we went there I was always afraid of what I called “the dead horse” but had to go look at it. It was both terrifying and exciting.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Similarities Between Novel Plots and Two-Year-Olds

In addition to my writing, my major focus in the last two plus years has been getting to know my grandson (now two and a half). I’ve learned a great deal watching and interacting with him. Here are several of the lessons that apply equally to writing novels.

My grandson loves playing with his toy train, which he pushes by hand over wooden tracks. He enjoys a specific track configuration for several days, then wants to change it. Equally true of novels. Readers don’t want the same plot over and over. They want new twists and turns.

My grandson will run the train along the track for a while, but this is too easy. He will then remove a piece of track so the train can’t proceed and say, “Oh, no.” Often he will replace it with a different piece of track. Other times, he will put toys on the track to block the train. As in writing novels, there need to be obstacles and conflict to bring the story alive. We don’t want a boring story where everything is fine with no challenges to be overcome.

It’s fun to watch him construct his own stories as he plays with his train.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Speaking at Libraries

I have enjoyed the opportunity to speak at libraries. In January, I co-taught a class on short story writing with fellow author, Gayle Bartos-Pool, at the main library in Glendale, CA. This week I met through a Skype call with a group at the Nederland, CO, library. I gave a brief presentation and then answered questions. I particularly enjoyed talking with this group because I used to live in Boulder, CO, and visited Nederland many times on my way up Boulder Canyon for hikes on trails leading to the Continental Divide. With tools such as Skype, it now makes it possible to speak with book groups all over the country.