Thanksgiving is all about family and appreciation for our lives and the good things in them. You know it’s not a very mysterious holiday when the biggest mystery is why we have to eat turkey. Heresy, I know, but I really don’t like turkey. Luckily, my Thanksgiving family this year is serving prime rib and jerk chicken. So here is one thing I’m thankful for — my very good friends with whom we are dining on Thursday.
I like mysteries so I decided to look for a Thanksgiving ghost story. I Googled “Thanksgiving paranormal stories” and you’d be surprised at how many turned up. I was kind of hoping for a “ghosts of Pilgrims past” kind of thing but I struck out. Unless you count this story about the haunted Pilgrim State Hospital. I did find this, however, and it could be interpreted as a “ghost of turkeys past” thing. You decide!
Because many of us will see a long weekend over Thanksgiving, I am going to share with you a couple of lists with Thanksgiving mystery book suggestions: Killer Feast: 5 Delicious Thanksgiving Mysteries, and Thanksgiving mystery books. Let me know if any of them are worth recommending.
Finally, I’ll share with you my cartoon about Turkey fairy tales.
Did you know that the Ouija Board that we know today was first made in 1890? Did you also know that Ouija boards didn’t have an evil reputation until 1973, the year The Exorcist came out? I have to tell you, that explains a lot. You see, my older brother had a board and when I was very young, I played with that thing all the time. Therefore it was already too late in 1973, when the board’s evil nature became apparent, to prevent me from being inhabited by a demon. In my case, it’s a demon that makes me eat entire boxes of Thin Mints. Really, if you knew me, you’d know I’m telling the truth. And I was a Girl Scout back then so I was my own supplier. Evil demon.
A movie just came out about Ouija boards that apparently takes the portal-to-hell point of view. I’m going to give it a pass, at least until I can watch it during broad daylight on my tiny iPad screen thanks to Netflix. (You know that scary movies are less scary in daytime on iPads, right?) My little sleepover friends and I certainly thought that the Ouija board was creepy but we were addicted to that kind of thrill. We held seances, tried to levitate each other using just two fingers on each hand, etc. Later, we just read Stephen King novels and talked about creepy boys.
I always thought that I would eventually write horror novels but I don’t, at least not so far. I find human nature to be creepy enough to satisfy my interests. So I write mysteries and crime. I don’t own a Ouija board and have never introduced my daughter to it’s mysteries. But I may have to get one and ask it when I will land an agent for my novel. That, at the moment, is the biggest mystery of all. Stay tuned.
(Note: this has nothing to do with the recent re-election of Governor Scott.)
I’ve been researching some interesting stuff for my next novel and it looks like the story will be taking me to Key West. I’ve been there many times and one of the best things to do is take a night-time ghost walk tour. It works like this: 1) go to Captain Tony’s or whichever bar you prefer and have several margaritas; 2) walk down Duvall Street to the meeting place of whatever ghost walk tour you are signing up for; 3) bring your camera because you’ll be encouraged to take lots of pictures; 4) freak yourself out by seeing all kinds of “orbs” in your photos; 5) return to Captain Tony’s or whichever bar you prefer and order several more margaritas. (Note that Captain Tony’s is also said to be haunted by the ghosts of the 75 people who died on the hanging tree there.)
The creepiest thing you’ll do on your walk is visit the site of an old church that burned up with a bunch of children inside, so the story goes. Our guide had us put our ears up to the papered-up glass doors and listen for music, or the scratching of little kiddie ghosts trying to escape their doom. I promise you I heard scratching. I also promise that there is no way to tell if it’s someone’s job to scratch at the doors while tour groups pass by. Who knows? There were a heck of a lot of orbs in my photos near the church. Of course, there are non-ghostly explanations for orbs as well.
The creepiest thing you’ll hear about on your walk is Robert the Doll. He lives in Key West but in a museum that’s not close to the downtown area. Robert is real but you’ll have to decide for yourself if the stories you hear about Robert are true. I, for one, have never been able to work up the courage to go see him in person. Apparently the walls of the room where Robert is kept under glass are papered with apology letters from people who saw Robert and made fun of him. The story suggests that Robert curses your life if you don’t pay him proper respect. I’ll err on the side of caution and avoid a face-to-face for now. Maybe. Perhaps if I visit Captain Tony’s first….
Last weekend, as foretold, I attended the fabulous Atlanta Writer’s Conference. It was the best organized conference of any sort I’ve ever attended. The faculty was terrific and I met some great new writer friends. Hats off to the entire staff of volunteers who worked so hard all weekend. It was a personal victory for me as well. As a result of the conference, I was asked by five agents/editors to send them my manuscript (and I only met with six). I even won three awards. But this post is not about all that — it’s about not resting on your laurels.
Wow, what a huge temptation it is to sit and wait. I really liked all of these agents/editors and would be honored to be represented by any of them. I am dying to hear from them. But at the editor Q&A panel, and again at the agent Q&A panel, one of the consistent messages was that the process takes time: a lot of it. Sometimes more than you can stand. Sitting and waiting makes all that time seem even longer. So as you can see above, I’m giving myself the green light. I’m launching into the next manuscript AND, I’m getting set to send that query letter out to even more agents.
You see, despite my 15 seconds of fame at the conference, I realize that every one of the agents/editors I met might give my manuscript a pass. So hello Writer’s Market. I hope that by subscribing to you it’s just like bringing an umbrella somewhere to ensure that it won’t in fact rain. I’m going to read you but I surely hope that I don’t need you.
I hope that I’m able to put up a red light very soon!
My clock radio, the one that was possessed, looked a lot like this one only it was tan and I’d written my name on it in Sharpie, as you do. I hadn’t used the clock radio in 18 years (since law school) but I found it when we unpacked at our last house and placed it on my nightstand. Here’s the kicker — I never plugged it in. Never. So when I woke up from a nap because my clock radio was blaring static noise, I was naturally a little disturbed. How does one turn off a radio that isn’t attached to an electrical source? Figuring that it was possessed, I beat the crap out of it and threw it in the garbage can out in the garage. Maybe it had some old batteries but when have you ever had batteries that lasted 18 years?
So then, one night I woke up and in the same house in the same part of the room, a couple of round specialty light bulbs that my husband was going to install in our utility room were glowing and blinking. They were also unattached to any power source — just sitting on top of my dog’s crate. (Insert freaky music soundtrack.)
Speaking of my dog, one night he was on my bed in that same part of the room and he was staring into that corner growling at nothing. So that’s it. We didn’t have blood dripping down the wall or cloven hoof prints in our carpet but shoot, it was most definitely mysterious and I, for one, am glad we had reason to move last summer.
If you happen to read this and wish to share your own spooky story – fill me in. Just make sure it’s real. You know I did because if I were making it up, the dog’s head would have spun around and the bed would have levitated. Just sayin’.
“I see dead people.”
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.
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:
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.
Just learned how to embed videos. This one makes me very happy.
So way back in 2007, I established Hoyden Press and published my first mystery novel, LETTERS FROM A DEAD ARMADILLO. Quite exciting! And then in 2011, I uploaded the Kindle Edition. And there it still sits, available today, on Amazon.com. Here’s the link — go see for yourself. LETTERS FROM A DEAD ARMADILLO by Wendy Boucher.
And what did the Midwest Review of Books have to say about it? “She does a great job of masking her villain in the style of the master mystery writers.” And, “LETTERS FROM A DEAD ARMADILLO is a great mystery with modern day issues that is meant for virtually any audience.” Oh, and did I mention, “ARMADILLO just begs for a sequel.”
I haven’t paid much attention to my little ARMADILLO lately. So here I am giving him a little love. My next mystery is NOT a sequel to ARMADILLO, but never say never.
Admit it, just like me, you are a sucker for social media featuring cute cats and dogs. And sloths. Yep, they’re on Facebook too and since they’re my favorite wild animal (I like their work ethic), I’ve watched videos with squeaking baby sloths. Check out your own posts. Update about your novel’s publication? 5 likes. Pictures of your wedding on the occasion of your 15th anniversary? 25 likes. Picture of your dog licking his butt? 4,025 likes, counting all the friends of friends who came over to virtually admire your pup.
So now I’m wondering how I can capture that magic to get people excited about my new novel when the time comes. As a murder mystery, I suppose I could put a picture of a suspiciously dead yet still adorable kitten on the cover. Or maybe a kitten with a mask and an Uzi. If I were as cute as Amy Tan, I wouldn’t have to use kittens. Seriously, go look at her on her website. The novel is nearing completion and from what I can tell, it’s not too soon to be thinking about promotion. I need a platform and all that. How do I get anyone to look at my novel amidst all the great works out there competing for the same sets of eyes?
Seriously, how do I? I’m going to go tour some blogs and sites that feature good advice about book promotion and author platforms. I’ll be sure to share the links to the ones that most closely match my preconceived notions about what might work. Kidding. I’ll link to the ones with the most “likes.” Or those with kittens. Or how about this – you tell me who I should check out. In the meantime, I’m going with the image below.