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2015 ahoy!

Benedict Cumberbatch

The Guardian published a very nice list of things to look forward to in 2015.  For example, that particle smasher in Geneva where they discovered the Higgs boson is going to be fired up again after a two year hiatus. Cool right? The possibility of that man-made, Earth-sucking black hole is back on the table for you conspiracy theorists. Also noteworthy, Benedict Cumberbatch is going to play Hamlet on stage in London. Yep, sold out. The article mentions some withheld tickets that will go on sale I don’t know when. (Yep, I’m already in line.)

Another moment worth looking forward to is only one second long. For you Pi lovers, I’m talking about 3/14/15 at 9:26:53. Pi Day is special this year. In mystery news, Mashable reminds us about 13 real-life mysteries that need solving, hopefully in 2015. For example, what is all that stuff underneath Stonehenge?

Of course, I’m primarily interested in the books that are coming out in 2015. Bustle picks their 12 most anticipated books here. Huffington Post weighs in here. If you’re like me, you want to skip right to Thrillers, Mysteries, and Suspense. Whatever you think about Amazon, you can at least see what suspense writers are publishing this year by clicking here. Now, I have to figure out which e-reader I want to replace my beloved original Kindle. I dropped it one too many times on its head and now I have to say goodbye to its convenient tactile keyboard and whispernet service. Any suggestions? I’m all ears.

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Stephen King is Always Right

Hey Man by fire

It’s been a while since I last read Stephen King’s book, ON WRITING, but I have read it twice. The thing that has always stuck with me the most is his advice about writing every day and hitting your target, no matter how small you set it. Right now, I’ve set my target for 1,000 words a day. No excuses. For me, that’s a reasonable target. Your target might be 500 words or 5,000 words. We don’t have to compare. Having a bigger target doesn’t mean anything except that perhaps you have maid services, a nanny, and a husband who travels Monday through Friday. But I digress.

I also enjoy King’s advice about putting characters into a situation and helping them out of it. He’s not big on plotting and neither am I. So perhaps I like his advice because it suits the way I already write. I always have a “big idea” about my book. It is important for me to understand the basic theme of my story and to work out some basic components: characters and their stories, the main conflict, sub-conflicts, and setting. After that, I like to dive in and see where it takes me. You can probably guess that I don’t use an outline. I usually create a bit of an outline when I’m nearly done so that I can evaluate the text for inconsistencies and then write my synopsis.

I’m working on the second book in my new series of murder mysteries. I managed to stay on task over the weekend and for me, that’s huge. How glad am I to land on Monday morning with more than 2,000 words added to my manuscript? Have you seen Snoopy dance on Schroeder’s little piano? That about sums it up. Sorry for the Peanuts reference, we watched Charlie Brown Christmas last night. Speaking of Charlie Brown Christmas, I am so totally right there with Lucy as the Christmas Queen. But again I digress.

I titled this post about Stephen King always being right. That’s probably not true for everyone but for me, he is a hero. I promise, even if you don’t love his books as much as I do, you’ll enjoy ON WRITING. And Stephen, if you are reading this post, I’d just like to thank you for your First Editions of limited releases. I’ve sold two and bought the most beautiful piece of jewelry with the proceeds. Cheers!

Stephen King

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Happy October

scream

It’s the scariest month of the year and that’s because I had to write a query letter and a synopsis. Oh, and I have to pitch my novel in person later this month. And you thought Halloween was scary?

As it turns out, writing a novel is easy compared to writing a synopsis of that novel. Boiling your sea of words down to a teacup full of words that tells the same story is crazy-making. I was required to write a three page synopsis for the writer’s conference I am attending in Atlanta. I have seen, however, that many agents prefer a one page synopsis. So I’m not even done with the boiling part if I don’t get any takers in Atlanta.

A synopsis has to tell the whole story. It’s not like that little teaser you read on book flaps or on Amazon. You have to reveal the ending and before you get to that, you have to cover the story arc and mention something about character growth. It forces you to think about what’s really important in your novel.

The query letter (the cover letter you send to agents and editors) is even shorter but is actually easier. A good hook and a quick note about the story is what you need to entice the agent or editor into wanting to see more. If all goes well, they request your manuscript or some portion of it. Sure, you have to word it well but compared to a synopsis, it’s cake.

I’m also beginning to look at promotional Youtube videos for novels. Yes, I’ll have to do one of those too but as an artist, visual storytelling isn’t all that difficult for me. Besides, I know the secret. Cats. Lots and lots of cats.

Cute kitten

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Of Cats and Women

old men on a bench

See those men on the bench? They won’t be reading my new novel. I just read a very interesting report from a few years ago by the Sisters in Crime folks and they found that 68% of mystery readers are women. Women of a certain age, in fact.  Over half the mysteries purchased are bought by people over age 55.  You can see the complete report here.

I will be pitching my new novel to agents and editors at the Atlanta Writer’s Conference next month and apparently, I have to be prepared to tell them who will be interested in buying my book. Even though I can personally name five people who will buy my book, they want a broader picture. I think I’ll just give them this one:

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After all, I mention not one, but two cats in my story. Sorry old men on a bench, you have no idea what you’re missing.

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Cubers

rubiks cube

By the time I finished high school, everyone I know had received a Rubik’s Cube for Christmas or their birthday. We all had those clunky things in our backpacks and got them out on breaks. Eventually they became paper weights, or projectiles if you had brothers like mine. I didn’t have one friend who could solve the thing.

So now you can guess that I attended high school in the 80’s. Part of my novel-in-progress is set in the 1980’s so I very cleverly mention a Rubik’s Cube to give the reader a sense of the time because after all, nobody has Rubik’s Cubes these days, right?  Wrong.

My high school age daughter (now, in 2014) just attended a fun summer session for her high school in California (Stanford U. Online High School) and one of the things she learned was how to solve a Rubik’s Cube. They gave her a Cube and she says it’s kind of a middle speed cube, implying all kinds of things that I didn’t know. They come in different sizes and turn speeds. One of her classmates brought a suitcase full of different cubes and offered to oil hers so it would turn better. Cube oil? He’d brought Cube oil?

You see, Speedcubers are at thing. They take apart and oil their cubes. They have special timers. There is a World Cube Association that keeps records and organizes competitions. I’m sure it’s all very cool but their existence means I might as well take my Rubik’s Cube reference right out of my book. I thought that we 80’s kids owned Rubik’s Cubes, just like we owned Pet Rocks in the 70’s. Wow, so wrong.

There’s no big message hidden here or any lesson learned except that I should have kept my original Rubik’s Cube and sold it as a collector’s item.  And maybe I’ve learned that I don’t know everything.  Oh, and Cube Oil is a thing.

pet rockMy mom never let me have one.

 

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