Write Over the hump

Here’s a fun prompt to start your day, sure to get your imagination fired. We all know people like this… now it’s time to write one into a story, use that contrariness to good effect…

When trouble brews, you can be sure Jade is somewhere in the middle of it.

Victoria Heckman Speaks on Writing

Today, author Victoria Heckman answers 10 probing questions into how she writes, why she writes, and her writing journey. She has some surprising answers and a lot of good advice for all writers everywhere. Enjoy!

What is the first thing you had published, and when?

I answered a contest call by Sisters in Crime-Central Coast Chapter.  The prize was publication and then I was hooked! That call saying I’d be published was amazing.

Of all your books, which is your favorite?

It’s usually my newest, but I am proud of the different elements in all the series. I love changing and adding and making the research and work really weave into a story to make the next in the series unique.

Do any of your buried attributes (things you don’t let others see or know about) come out in your characters?

I have had many experiences that I haven’t shared and I am sure those come up.  The two years I worked in law enforcement were the foundation for the police procedural along with my friends at the Honolulu Police Department.  I think more things come out that I wish were attributes!  K.O. is taller than I am and more self-assured, for example.

Why do you write the genre(s) you write?

I didn’t really choose to write what comes out, I just do.  I love paranormal and wrote a short story that I think I’d like to make into a novel form at some point.  I really wanted to write about ancient Hawai’i so did tons of research, but didn’t have a book until I met “Coconut Man,” my main character.  I am researching a new book set in 1860’s in the mid-west, but I don’t have a story.  I am looking at maps and finding people, but nothing has happened yet!

Have you ever started a story and realized it was a genre or age group you’d never written before?

I wrote a ghost story that I still just love, and Malama was a real person in my head who needed her story told. I didn’t know she was a ghost until well into the piece. That was a little creepy and I’ve never tried to find out if she was a real person–she’s real enough to me.

Think of a character who has a unique feature or ability. How did you come up with that unique feature for your character?

Elizabeth Murphy is an animal communicator.  I have always talked to my animals, and really all animals I come across, to a degree.  I saw a class offered in “Animal Communication” and took it thinking it would be a funny story for parties.  Turns out it’s a thing and I learned to do it, so I had to write about it.  That is one of my favorite things, writing what the animals think and say.

What’s your favorite writing snack?

I don’t have one. I write very fast and compact for limited bursts. I just write until the scene or chapter is done.  Sometimes that takes a long time but I don’t stop to eat.  I also don’t write for twelve hours straight. I had to learn to write fast as a mother of young children who might not let me have the luxury of time.  Although the ‘children’ are lovely grown men now, that method has served me well and continues to be the most effective.

What was the hardest critique you ever received?

My editor wouldn’t let me kill off a character. I had a fantastic funeral written, not a dry eye in the house. I fought her for several months.  She won.  It was a bloody 100 page re-write, but I trusted her and she was right. I saved that funeral scene though. Somebody’s gonna need it.

Do your characters ever take over the story and take it in new directions?

Always.  I used to be surprised, or try to get them back on track.  WASTE OF TIME.  I have learned to trust them.  They are living their lives somewhere and I’m just a nosy observer.  I have a path I think we’re on, and I know my subconscious will keep them true to the story, so if I am forcing an issue, it just won’t work.  Most often, a new person, someone I never intended, wanders in (or storms in, more like) and takes it in a new direction. I love the ‘new’ people. Or animals, or goddesses, or whatever as the case may be.

What is the most surprising thing that happened while you were writing a story?

I am always worried at some point that I can’t do it.  Finish, or create, or continue.  But if I believe it is already finished out there in the world somewhere, and I can tap into it, trust that it will come to me, then it does.  I still have that feeling every single book, but magically, for better or worse, there’s at least a rough first draft at some point to work from.  I got that piece of wisdom from Sue Grafton years ago and I’ve never forgotten it. It has seen me through some dark times.  I got the chance to thank her for that a couple of years ago at a Bouchercon. I try to pass it on, as well as the other many kindnesses veteran writers have shared.  Sometimes that ‘miracle’ takes ten years, but hey, never give up.

Thanks, Victoria, for all your answers and insights. I’m so happy you stopped by today. But I can’t believe you don’t have a writing snack! I don’t think I could write a word without a piece of chocolate melting in my mouth…

Victoria’s new book (the second) in her Coconut Man series, Kahuna:Priest, is now out. It’s a fascinating look at ancient Hawaii, and a masterful mystery. Victoria manages to flawlessly weave in the details of ancient Hawaii while crafting a wonderful mystery. When you finish it, you’ll think you’ve gone back in time and lived in that mystical land. Don’t miss it!


Here’s a quick peek at Victoria herself – and the various series she writes:

Victoria Heckman writes several mystery series:  K.O.’d in Hawaii — a police procedural;  Coconut Man Mysteries of Ancient Hawaii — a historical series; Elizabeth Murphy — Animal Communicator set on California’s Central Coast; and Pearl Harbor Blues, a stand-alone mystery. She has many short stories in several anthologies as well as editing and compiling several more. She is working on a historical short project as well as her next Elizabeth Murphy mystery. She is a member of Sisters in Crime-Central Coast Chapter.

Visit her website www.victoriaheckman.com

or find her on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

Kahuna: Priest on Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Kahuna-Priest-Coconut-Mysteries-Ancient-ebook/dp/B01MTE8TNH/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487573491&sr=1-1&keywords=kahuna+priest

Kahuna: Priest Print Book: https://www.amazon.com/Kahuna-Priest-Coconut-Mysteries-Ancient-Hawaii/dp/0997088028/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1487573491&sr=1-1

Write Over the Hump

This is an appropriate prompt for today. It’s the anniversary of my parents’ marriage. They were hitched in 1943; were they still alive, they’d have been together for 74 years! Hard to imagine. Now it’s time to delve back into your life, to look back into the past and mine the emotions that were so new and glorious… or disastrous. It’s all fodder for stories.

Write about your very first date.

Marilyn Meredith on “Unresolved”

Today, my guest blogger is the one and only Marilyn Meredith. After I won her contest, here’s what she “did” to me…

One of the Characters in the Latest Rocky Bluff P.D. Mystery is Susan Tuttle!

Susan won a contest to have a character named after her in the next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery. She also requested that the person not be particularly nice. I obliged her.

I can’t say too much more without giving away something. However, my Susan is a most unusual looking woman because she has ebony black hair and ivory skin. Think Snow White.

I’ve never been to the real Susan Tuttle’s house, but my Susan lives in a redesigned Craftsman among many treasures. I can see my Susan in my mind’s eye just as I see the real one. However, even though I do know the real Susan Tuttle I know far more about my Susan.

I wonder if perhaps I’ve given myself a problem. After the real Susan reads Unresolved will she retaliate by writing me into one of her books? If so, I hope she makes me much younger and full of energy.

In actuality, I hope the real Susan enjoys the character I named after her. I certainly enjoyed creating her.

F. M. aka Marilyn Meredith

Thank you, Marilyn, for stopping by today. I can’t wait to read all about “myself”! I just wish I had that ebony black hair and ivory skin… and that redesigned Craftsman. But I have you for a friend, and that’s a whole lot better! Now as for retaliation… hmmm… we’ll have to wait and see, won’t we?


#13 in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, Unresolved

Blurb: Rocky Bluff P.D. is underpaid and understaffed and when two dead bodies turn up, the department is stretched to the limit. The mayor is the first body discovered, the second an older woman whose death is caused in a bizarre manner. Because no one liked the mayor, including his estranged wife and the members of the city council, the suspects are many, but each one has an alibi.

Copies may be purchased from Book and Table by emailing bookandtablevaldosta@gmail.com with a 10% discount and free shipping as well as all the usual places.


Bio: F. M. Meredith lived for many years in a small beach community much like Rocky Bluff. She has many relatives and friends who are in law enforcement and share their experiences and expertise with her. She taught writing for Writers Digest Schools for 10 years, and was an instructor at the prestigious Maui Writers Retreat, and has taught at many writers’ conferences. Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and serves on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She lives in the foothills of the Sierra.

Visit her at http://fictionforyou.com and her blog at http://marilymeredith.blogspot.com/

Webpage: http://fictionforyou.com Blog: https://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://facebook.com/marilynmeredith

Write Over the Hump

Here’s a prompt that filled with symbolism. Take it literally, take it symbolically, just see what happens when you let your imagination loose on this little opening.

The rats only came out at night.

Write Over the Hump

We are a society of rules, and we should be. It’s what keeps order, keeps status quo on an even keel. But our stories are all about what happens when that status quo is disturbed, when the rules are broken. Today, let that be your guide as you start your story with:

So that’s what happens if you go out of the lines.

Write Over the Hump

How often do we — and our characters — do something without thinking about it? Just go into a situation, or spout off a bunch of words, with nary a thought to what might happen. Use this prompt to explore just what might happen because of this kind of willful blindness.

I never even looked.


Write Over the Hump

This little line came to me at a church meeting where we were discussing what to do about the old chairs in the sanctuary. I jotted it down because it tickled my fancy. Now see what comes when you use it to start today’s writing session.

Four chairs glued together does not a pew make.

Write Over the Hump

Exploring meanings is integral to what we write. After all, if it doesn’t mean anything, why write about it? Here’s a prompt to get you writing about truth and what it means… for you and for your stories.

They said it was true, but they said a lot of things back then.

Write Over the Hump

Last month we explored what it means to us to be in love. This month, explore what it is like to lose that love. We’ve all felt that loss at one time or another, and in one way or another. Understanding loss, how we felt about it and what we did with/reacted to our feelings helps us write stories that won’t let our readers go.

Write about losing someone you loved.