I’ve spent a lot of time these past couple of weeks getting ready for my book signing at The Frugal Muse and Music bookstore, which is a week from today! In case you haven’t already marked it on your calendars, it’s: Wednesday, Jan. 29th, 7 to 9 pm, at the Frugal Muse, 75th & Lemont Rd., Darien, southeast corner, in a small shopping center. There are 5 authors: Kate Gingold, Dennis Baritzal, myself, Angela Holtz, and Karen Sjoblom, who between us have published books in a variety of genres. We’ll each be speaking briefly about our writing, and Joe Eddy Brown will entertain us with his music. There’ll be plenty of opportunity to speak with each of us individually, and don’t forget–refreshments! So do plan on coming for a fun evening.
When I first began publishing, I had no idea how much work it would be to get out in front and let people know about it. Except for a fortunate few, the days of turning over a manuscript to a publisher and letting them take it from there while you brush off your hands and get to work on your next opus are over. But on the plus side, it’s a lot of fun participating in these events, finding new author friends as well as new readers. A whole new career emerges! Who knew?
Well, the goal was to write a 50,000 word draft by today. Am I going to make it? Not unless I can come up with 14,040 words by midnight! Highly unlikely.
But the good news is I’ve written 35,960 words towards “Time Warp: a Love Story,” which is a Mystery/Romance with Paranormal Elements. (That may be a new genre I just made up. ) I’m having a great time with this complicated story, which follows three main characters, Tim, Natalie, and Abby, each operating along separate timelines that coincide at several critical points. It’s quite different from my Bella Sarver Mystery series but at least as equally challenging to write as those four novels were.
Well, I’ll tell you. NANOWRIMO is National Novel Writing Month, which is November of each year. It’s a national challenge for people who write to draft a novel of 50,000 words in 30 days. The first time I participated was about 5 years ago, and the effort resulted in my first published mystery novel, Painting Lessons: a Bella Sarver Mystery (available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle editions). I had a great time, and the experience reminded me just how much I love to write. Although I didn’t participate in subsequent years, I did keep on writing, and produced 3 additional books in the Bella Sarver Mystery series: Brush With Death, Paint a Murder, and Death on the Danube (all of which are also available on Amazon).
My good friend Elaine convinced me to give NANOWRIMO another try, so I rejoined the local group this year and have very much enjoyed the preparatory workshops, speakers, and exercises that I’ve attended. I even presented one myself, on How to Write a Mystery Novel. But now November is here, and it’s time to try to meet the challenge again.
So–the working title is Time Warp: a Love Story. It’s an outgrowth of a short story I wrote that will soon be published in an anthology. (More about that in another post.) Like Death on the Danube, the story takes place on a river cruise, this time on the Rhine. I’m not exactly sure what genre it’s going to be, but so far it’s a sort of a combination of paranormal/romance/mystery. (Is that an entirely new genre?) I’ve spent the past 10 days coming up with an outline, doing some research, doing time-line maps and –oh, yes. Writing. Will I make the 50K? Watch this space to find out. About 12000 words so far!
Join us on Sunday, October 27 for the Studios 630 Fine Art Show Artist Reception, 3 – 5 p.m. at National University of Health Sciences, Roosevelt at Highland, Lombard (Clinic Building B). Refreshments will be served. Come meet the artists and enjoy the exhibit of fine art in the gallery.
I’m very excited to announce that Death on the Danube is finished. The Kindle version will be released October 5th, and can be pre-ordered now, to be delivered on the release date. I’ll also have a paperback version out soon.
This book has been very challenging to write, demanding quite a bit of research. It’s also been the most fun, so far. I’m beginning to feel like Bella Sarver and Art Halperin are old friends. I wonder what they’ll get up to next?
I promised to have my next mystery novel, Death on the Danube, ready by the end of September, and I’m happy to say I’ll be able to keep that promise. I finished the final revision a few days ago. It’s getting a last going-over by my favorite editor, Chuck, and then it will be up and running, and available for pre-orders.
So why the rush? I’ll be participating in a local author book-signing event in Naperville, at the 95th Street Library, on November 2nd. I want to have Death on the Danube on hand then, along with my 3 previous books featuring artist/detective Bella Sarver: Painting Lessons, Brush With Death, and Paint a Murder.
I titled the first exhibition of my paintings “A Colorful Journey,” and I see my writing as a continuation of that journey, a journey of exploration and discovery. I wrote the first book as a challenge, just to see if I could do it. I found that I could, and now I go to my laptop with anticipation, eager to find out what my characters are up to each day. It’s a lot of fun, as well as a lot of hard work. And sharing it with my readers is all part of the adventure.
I just finished reading “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear,” by Elizabeth Gilbert. She writes as if she’s sitting across the table with the reader, cup of coffee in hand, leaning forward, and you’re having this great discussion, except she supplies both sides of the discussion. In this case, the discussion is about what qualities we need to cultivate in order to live our most creative lives. It’s all very upbeat and encouraging, whether you think of yourself as a creative person or not. As someone who has to admit to some level of creative impulse in her life, I found it very enlightening.
Speaking of creativity, for a while now, I’ve been exploring abstract shapes, colors, textures and designs in my paintings. It’s been a lot of fun, and I’m certainly not done with that aspect of my ‘colorful journey’, but I was inspired recently to return to a genre I painted earlier – landscapes. In ‘Falling Water,’ I used my recently acquired ‘abstract’ skills to try to capture the almost explosive power of water as it thunders and roars its way down a mountain. I hope this painting manages to capture some of the electric energy I felt looking at scenes like this up in Alaska recently.
I spent the last couple of weeks working on the technicalities of my latest mystery novel, the least favorite part of my job. There’s a reason why traditional publishers get paid the big bucks! Book design isn’t a lot of fun, but there’s plenty of help out there, so hopefully, the finished product will look fantastic as well as being a good read. I’m publishing the paperback and Kindle versions simultaneously, and there will be a special offer for Kindle pre-orders, so be on the look-out for that. In the meantime, what do you think of my cover?
This week, I began draft #5 of Death on the Danube. I finished the 4th draft about a month ago and decided to just let it sit for a while. In the meantime, I let my husband read it. He thinks it’s really good, but he had some helpful suggestions, too. I’ve been mulling things around, and now I’m ready to approach the project with a fresh eye.
The story is done. The mystery is solved. (Hint: Bella Sarver provides the key information, though she has a lot of help from the German and Romanian police.) But now it’s time to really whip this book into shape.
This is my fourth novel, and I’ve learned quite a bit about the writing process. It’s all very well to come up with a basic mystery, but fleshing out the characters, letting them tell the story in their own words, and letting the story go its own way is where the work part comes in. It’s fun, too, though, a new adventure every time. So back to work, and I’ll keep you posted on progress.
As any fan of murder mysteries knows, the genre can
encompass all kinds of stories, from English country murders to small hidden
towns in Montreal to intrigue in Washington to …. You name it.
All these novels tell about the murder:
the who, what, where, and why of it.
But the best ones tell another story as well. A murder mystery can serve as a vehicle for
social commentary, for exploring an historical event, for telling a love story,
or any of the many reasons that a writer decides she has something to say.
The nice thing about creating a series in this genre is that
you can have ongoing characters who grow and change over time. They have stories of their own to tell,
alongside the story of the victim and the perp.
Reading a series is like visiting old friends, catching up, finding out
what’s new with them. And writing a
series is much the same. It’s a lot of
fun for me to write about Bella and Art and their friends, to find out things I
didn’t know before, to travel together.
Are murder mysteries in the same class of fiction as great
literature? Maybe not. And yet – Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha
Christie, and Dorothy L. Sayers gather new fans to this day, so if a definition
of literature is something that touches readers of many places and times, has
something to say and something to teach, then maybe murder mysteries are worth
reading after all.