Labor Day Weekend

As a writer, I tend to put off reading until I’m nearly finished with whatever fiction is in the works for me. Recurring is close to being completely done, wrapped up with a pretty bow, and ready to send to agents, so I’ve been binge-reading. By a strange coincidence, most of my friends just happen to be writers. Imagine that!

Linda Author Photo

Enter Linda Rawlins, V.P. of Sisters in Crime – Central Jersey chapter.

Linda is probably the most upbeat, amiable person I know. She’s the author of two series: the Rocky Meadow Series and the Misty Point Mystery Series.

 

Linda's Misty Point books                                Rocky Meadow Series

 

 

 

 

I haven’t started on the Misty Point books yet, but I have read all three of her intriguing Rocky Meadow books. Because many scenes take place in religious surroundings involving Father Michael Lauretta (one half of the endearing Doctor Amy/Father Michael sleuthing team), I find this series comforting. For those of you who know me, I’m about as far from a bible-thumper as a person can get, yet my background of years (and years and years) attending parochial school, have left me somewhat nostalgic for the good old/bad old days (my teachers were tough nuns, enough said).

Other settings, such as the hospital where protagonist Doctor Amy Daniels is the acting medical examiner, are familiar to anyone who has ever given birth, or had the various health scares and mishaps life brings. Author Linda Rawlins is a physician (in addition to being a writer – where does she find the time?), so she has the inside scoop and intimate knowledge of medical procedures and venues, and her writing proves it.

All-in-all, the series is a great escape. Of the three, Sacred Gold is my absolute favorite!

Now onto other things.

I’ve found creativity in everyday misery. I’m outlining a short story inspired by two weeks of on-again, off-again back pain. As you’ve probably guessed, it involves a rather sinister murder plot. What’s the use of lower back pain if you can’t kill someone off and find relief? Once finished, I intend to pitch it to Ellery Queen’s or maybe Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. On second thought, the plot is probably too icky for Ellery Queen. After that, I might finish a decent outline of Lesser Saints (as always, I’m dragging my feet on that, too), or even resume my Boardwalk Psychic series. What a way to spend a holiday weekend.

Everybody have a fun and safe Labor Day. And if it rains and you find you’re bored to death with indoor activities, for God’s sake – pick up a book and read!

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Deadly Ink 2018

This past weekend was the Deadly Ink conference in Iselin, NJ, and a more devoted group of mystery lovers couldn’t be found anywhere else in country. Granted, some people don’t find crime as uplifting and simulating as those of us who chatted with talented authors and sat in on discussion panels. I personally don’t like the idea of skydiving or some of the other activities where you can lose an arm or a head, and prefer murder and mayhem as a way to get my kicks.

To each her or his own.

What fun it was to hear story plots, unusual death scenes, insights into investigation, and the bad guy’s motivation!

New Jersey and You

I took some really awful pictures of several panels. Above are mystery writers Linda Rawlins, Jane Kelly, Jeff Cohen, Peggy Ehrhart, Eileen Watkins, and moderator David Manfre. I guess my hand was shaking, or someone moved, or EVERYONE moved at the same time – and I wasn’t wearing my glasses! Above was the clearest shot! Excuses over. I’m posting previous pics of several panelists (I guess taken when I was wearing my glasses and nobody moved), so no one will hate me.

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Meanwhile, Recurring is almost completely revised and edited. I’m shooting for the end of the month to get at least a query letter, brief and/or long synopsizes (that doesn’t look right but spell check assures me it’s correct), and the first three chapters of the book into the hands of agents. Wish me luck!

Meanwhile, stay dry if you’re in New Jersey. If not, I hope you’re in a spot where the sun is shining and there’s no humidity.

I’m Melting!

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Good afternoon from beautiful, sweltering New Jersey. Every single flower around my house is drooping from the soaring temperatures. I’ve been watering them twice a day during this heat wave and it barely helps. It’s too hot for outside activity. I’ll stay in the house, but there’s not all that much to do. My indoor options are as follows:

Eat myself into oblivion

Binge yet again on Criminal Minds

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I’m on a diet, so eating is out. If I watch another episode of Criminal Minds and Thomas Gibson doesn’t step out of the television and into my living room, I’m putting my foot through the screen (similar to his alleged kicking incident involving a writer – and most of the writers I know deserve a good, swift kick now and then).

Gee. I guess I’ll write.

My posts have been few and far between this year with good reason. There’s no real news to share about anything I’m currently working on. Having work published is, of course, the goal of most writers. Stories in the planning and editing stages, as well as waiting to hear back from agents and editors, takes lots of time. The rewrites are torture and also time-consuming. What’s a writer to do?

I ran into my good buddy Jane this morning and she asked me if I write anymore. I explained that yes, I’m writing, but writers go through all kinds of steps before their work is published. I suppose if an author chooses to self-publish, it’s a whole different story. I don’t do that and I doubt very much I ever will. The process seems complicated and some of the work out there presented by self-published authors, to be frank, isn’t up to par. The continuity of the story lines wouldn’t make it past a professional editor, there are spelling errors, grammatical errors, and many of the plots aren’t all that interesting. So I’m going the traditional route for the two stand-alones I’m working on, as well as sticking to traditional publishing for the new series. I hope to God all of you out there will recall my name and remember that I do, indeed, write!

Stay cool everybody. Drink lots of water. And if you happen to run into Thomas Gibson inside some nice, air-conditioned place, please send him over!

Muggy May

Storm night-Sept 2015

Good evening everyone! It’s been over two months since I last posted (far too long), so I thought I’d let you know what’s going on with my fiction. I am still revising Recurring with the help of a critique group and it’s working out. The group catches the errors and inconsistencies an author fails to notice in a manuscript when she reads it over on her own. Critique groups can be painful, but for the most part they’re helpful. All you writers out there can benefit greatly by joining one.

New Math Is Murder Cover

My second bit of news is that I’ve submitted New Math is Murder to the Sisters in Crime – National June Book Club Central Booklist. The theme is Humorous Mysteries, and New Math is Murder is certainly funny enough to qualify in that category. Submissions are picked at random. Please keep your fingers crossed that Colleen and the gang make the cut!

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For a bit of nature news, there’s a Mourning Dove that has built a nest in one of my house gutters (please excuse the grid pattern from the window screen). This was a particularly bad choice on the dove’s part. It’s been raining like mad here in New Jersey and the poor thing has been sitting there night and day for an entire week, incubating the one egg I spotted in the nest. She’s always soaked, I know she’s cold and uncomfortable, but she’s a mom and that’s what all mom’s (whether bird or human) do – sacrifice for their children. No guilt trip intended for my kid’s if one of you happens upon this post!

Have a wonderful evening and stay dry no matter where you are.

Research on Vacation

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I arrived home just two days ago from a fantastic vacation – The 70’s Rock & Romance Cruise on Celebrity Cruises! I won’t bore you with the details just yet, but I did manage a little first hand research for Recurring. Above is a shot I took on Grand Cayman, where Elaine and Trevor Masters honeymooned. The island figures significantly in the book (without going into spoilers), so I thought I’d include it. It’s gorgeous, and far removed from the book’s New Jersey setting – but the story also begins on the island, which you learn toward the end of the book. I hope to have the synopsis in the hands of a few agents by next week. Wish me luck, folks.

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Now onto my vacation! Oh My God! The music was fantastic! My cousin and I decided to go for it way back last fall when I saw a commercial for the cruise on Antenna TV. We heard The Guess Who, Air Supply, Badfinger, Ambrosia, War, America, Styx, B.J. Thomas, and my favorite – Michael McDonald. Everyone got older, but these bands and singers still rock. I lost my voice after The Guess Who, for which my cousin was eternally grateful. I sang every song along with them – everyone else did, too – but I didn’t sing when Michael McDonald sang and neither did anyone else. We all wanted to hear him, not ourselves, and we weren’t disappointed.

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           Michael McDonald                   The Guess Who  

 

I have always been a music fanatic, so this vacation was the perfect fit for me. Even the tribute bands were great.

On Jamaica I swam with Dolphins! Beautiful experience. What gentle, friendly creatures.

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I just noticed I don’t have on any makeup in the pictures (a mortal sin for a Jersey Girl), and my hair went way blonde! Have to change that fast! Anyway, it would be great to fit a nice murder mystery within the music industry for an upcoming book! But not with dolphins. No way!

Have a great night all. Peace be the journey.

 

Summer in February!

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It’s been such a long time since I last posted here. It’s been an amazing few months for me when it comes to writing. Recurring should be all polished and ready to make the agent rounds by early next week, and Lesser Saints is coming along well enough, thanks to the new critique group I’ve joined.

For those unfamiliar with what is accomplished in a critique group, each person brings a work-in-progress and reads it, with other members of the group scrutinizing every single freaking word. Critique groups are not for the faint of heart. You have to steel yourself for criticism and the shame of having others catch all your stupid errors, forgotten words, and downright bad typing and careless editing skills. I am particularly ashamed of skipping words – being notorious for leaving out “a” and “the” in my haste to fill up a page. Yes, we all do it. No, there’s really no excuse for it after you’ve proof-read the thing six times before printing it out for others to see.

The most useful purpose of a critique group is that it forces those who participate to actually write something – not just think about writing something, or making notes, or doing endless research. I love it and am very comfortable with allowing these other people to see my work in progress, at least so far.

That’s where things stand for now. Not much news, I’m sorry to say. But I have this feeling deep in my gut that Recurring will be snatched up soon by some clever publishing house. I also think Lesser Saints will be a sensation – though what kind of sensation, I can’t say. Maybe I’ll be ostracized, or blacklisted, or even excommunicated!

On a brighter note, it’s 78 degrees here in New Jersey! I can practically taste the spring in the air. If you’re in the area, go outside and enjoy it while you can. Tomorrow the temperature drops to the 40s!

Have a great night everybody, and keep reading.

 

Merry Christmas to All

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Ho-Ho-Ho everyone!

I know it’s been over a month since my last post and I’m truly sorry. I got so caught up in life that I simply forgot! It happens. And it’s been happening more and more. It could be that I no longer write to-do lists and it slipped my mind, or maybe it’s an early onset of something or other, or perhaps I’ve gotten just plain lazy. Regardless, I’m determined to do better to keep everyone informed of my current works in progress.

As of right now, I’m frantically working on Lesser Saints. The novel is timely considering all the news about sexual harassment. If this book gets finished and can hopefully hit the shelves in the next year or so, it might be viewed as a solid, serious piece of literary fiction. Attitudes toward sexual harassment don’t develop overnight, as you will come to understand if this book is lucky enough to see the light of day. The story centers on a horrific incident that takes place in the 1960s, and shapes the lives of four Catholic grammar school girls who carry on in the aftermath of an assault with a shocking secret.

Recurring, unfortunately, is taking a back seat to Lesser Saints at the moment, though this book also can be considered timely in light of the all the illegal drug stories in the news, as well as the mounting drug addiction crisis in the country.

As for Colleen Caruso and the gang, I haven’t heard anything at all from the publisher. Sales of Another Man’s Poison aren’t what I hoped they would be, and I haven’t seen many reviews either. All this means the probable end of the Jersey Girl series. I love Colleen and the Tranquil Harbor crew, but as the old, annoying saying goes – it is what it is. This is a reality for fiction authors. Many of my author friends have expressed the same view regarding their own cozy mysteries. Bummer, ain’t it? But maybe it’s high time for a change. My writing seems to be going in a totally different direction anyway, so . . .

I hope everyone reading this has a beautiful Christmas, a Happy Hanukah, and an amazing New Year. May all your dreams and wishes come true!