Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Book Discussions?

I’m posting this blog to try to get a question answered. Exactly what do book clubs want to hear when an author addresses them?

For my published books, I’ve prepared discussion questions, like talking points. However every group I’ve spoken to so far has wanted to talk about other things.

I suppose this blog title is a misnomer. It seems book clubs actually want to hear about things like, how I became an author, or why; how I go about writing a book; the perennial--where do I get my ideas. I do make sure to let them know how hard it is, not only to write a book and get it published--both monumental tasks--but what that comes after that: selling the book, trying to make people aware of it without ticking them off. I give statistics on my agent and publisher queries, just so they’ll know how many years it takes to get traction.

But I’d really like to lead a discussion of one of my books. I think. At my last engagement, a woman was vocal about the fact that she didn’t like my book. Is it better for readers to discuss a book without an author present?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Fun in Marion, Texas

Some of the readers in the Book Club

Marion is a small town in Central Texas with a better than average library. They call it their Community Library because it serves the high school as well as the community in general. This coalition also includes a Book Club! (Writers always like book clubs.) I was invited to speak there this month, after the membership purchased my book, CHOKE, the first in the Imogene Duckworthy series.

My good friend, Kathy Waller, former denizen of that area, drove me part way there and Gale Albright rode with us, too. They got three writers at their meeting that night.
Here's Kathy taking some of the pix below

Gale Albright, the 3rd author that night

Karen Lavere introduced us and I gave a talk about who I am and how I came to write this series. The audience was lively and had lots of questions, which I love! They had lots to say about my mystery and I enjoyed every minute of the meeting.

I’ve made such good connections and warm friendships in Texas, it will be hard to leave next year! I’ll be on the look out for book clubs in Tennessee. My real estate agent is a member of one, so there’s a headstart! A fellow Guppy has a sister in a book club near where we’re moving, too. If I’m lucky, they will be two different book clubs and I can try to interest them in my work.

This series, my Immy series, will be put on hold for a bit while I concentrate on the Barking Rain Press book, EINE KLEIN MURDER, coming out in the spring, in time for Malice Domestic (yay!). I’ll also be working hard on the FAT CAT series that will come out from Berkley Prime Crime in 2014. I hope that will be IT for starting a new series every year. I’ll be continuing all of them as best I can.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A romance for you to check out!


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Book Review: KILLER KOOL by Marty Ambrose

This review appeared in "Suspense Magazine" earlier this year.

This is Ambrose's fourth in her Mango Bay Mystery series. The others have been called quick reads and chic-lit for the beach. This one fills the bill, too.
Mallie Monroe, part-time reporter and full-time RV island dweller, is burdened with too many, as the story opens. Too many boyfriends: surfer Cole and Nick, the local cop. An over-the-top nasty boss who has just made her the food editor for the Observer, the newspaper for Coral Island. And too many murdered bodies a little later on.
She soon takes cares of the problem of too many boyfriends by ticking off both of them and ending up at dinner with the island geezer, an ancient man with ill-fitting teeth. Mallie tries her best to get to the restaurants and write her reviews, but murder interferes. You'll meet some fun characters. One is Madame Geri, a psychic and mind reader and the mother of Jimmy, who is engaged to Sandy. Madame Geri foresees that the wedding will have to be postponed, that murder will intervene. Sure enough, Carlos Santini, the corpulent ice-cream vendor, succumbs to an apparent heart attack. The manager of the RV park where Mallie lives, Wanda Sue, is another colorful character. After one of the main suspects in Carlos' death expires, Mallie finds herself on the killer's trail so the wedding can go on.
The easy, breezy style whips you through the fun story. If you're not reading this on a beach, you can easily pretend you're right there, on Coral Island

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Weather and Books

We’ve all watched with horror what the weather has done to the East Coast just now. All of us who weren’t actually there, suffering, that is. It’s got me to thinking about weather. I have a problem with one of the things writers are warned about: Never start your book with the weather. I’m sure you can do this badly, and maybe enough writers have done so that the warning came about. But you can do it well, too.

Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky
On an exceptionally hot evening early in July a young man came out of the garret  in which he lodged in S. Place and walked slowly, as though in hesitation, toward K. Bridge.

The Idiot, same author
Towards the end of November, during a warm spell, at around nine o’clock in the morning, a train of the Petersburg-Warsaw line was approaching Petersburg at full steam. It was so damp and foggy that dawn could barely break; ten paces to the right or left of the line it was hard to make out anything at all through the carriage windows.

Bleak House by Charles Dickens
London. Michaelmas Term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln’s Inn Hall. Implacable November weather. As much mud on the streets, as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill.

Those are two of my favorite authors and they may not be yours, but I don’t mind following in their inkprints.

I consider the weather extremely important. It dictates what my characters are wearing, how they get around, what noises they’re hearing and seeing, even what they’re smelling when it rains, and in the aftermath. It needs to fit the season. If I set a book in October, my characters have to be conscious of the fact that Halloween is coming, and in many places the weather will be making a major shift that month.

Hemingway agrees with me. He said, "Remember to get the weather in your god damned book - weather is very important."

There is a problem, though. Weather can be verrry borrring. Just listen to back-to-back news programs where the weather is talked about for five minutes on each show, whether or not it’s doing anything at all. Also, it’s such a pervasive part of our lives that it’s too easy to use clichés in descriptions. You’ve heard this: “Everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it.” The fact is, everyone DOES talk about it. “How enough for ya?” “We sure could use the rain.” “How many inches did you get?” Those are common ways to greet each other in Texas. It’s hard to find something new to say about sunshine, rain, snow, and wind. But you can do it!

I like to tie the weather to one of two things. Either what’s happening in the plot, or to my character’s mood. Sometimes it can be used for contrast, sometimes to underline. And sometimes you can bring on a tornado or a storm or a drought and make it part of the plot.

How do you use weather in your writing? Do you think it’s important, or of secondary importance?

Sunny Day Cuba is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

All other pictures are from

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Rest Stop Tonight

I’m taking the day off from my travels this week, watching election results Tuesday night instead of blogging. Back next week!

Photo from wiki commons, public domain