Publishing in the E-Age

the Central Coast Chapter of Sisters in Crime (SinC) will present a panel on Publishing in the E-Age at the Atascadero Library tomorrow, October 25, from 1:30 to 3:30. Join some of the Central Coast’s best mystery writers—Paul Fahey, Barbara Hodges, Marilyn Meredith and me (blush)—as we give you the scoop on what it’s like to be a writer in this technological era. We’ve got great handouts to help you in your writing career, yummy goodies and drinks, books for sale, and you get to rub elbows with writers of murder and mayhem of all sorts. What more could you ask for on a Sunny Saturday just before Halloween?

Join us tomorrow at the Atascadero Library, 6555 Capistrano Avenue, from 1:30 to 3:30, on the second floor. See you there!

Characters, Characters Everywhere

Creating unique and different characters isn’t always easy. But our lives can hold the key to creating interesting and memorable characters. No, I don’t mean writing about people you know. Rather, twist it; write about places you know as if they were people.

Translating things into people makes you look at the characters from a different angle, and they become unique and memorable in the minds of your readers.

Write Over the Hump

Think of the most interesting place you’ve ever been to. Write down what made it so memorable. Now, if that place were a person, who would it be? What human qualities, derived from the real place from your past, would that person exhibit? You have 10 minutes for this, starting now.

Who did you create from your memorable place?

From Pet To Person

Our pets truly become one of our family members, with their own personalities and quirks. If they were human, they’d be truly unique characters, wouldn’t they? And maybe make a terrific character for one of our stories.

Think about one of your current pets, or a pet you had growing up, as you do this exercise.

Write Over the Hump

If your pet (cat, dog, gerbil, goldfish, bird, etc) were a person, what kind of person would that pet be? How would your pet’s qualities and quirks translate into human qualities and quirks? Give yourself 10 minutes to finish this one.

Who did your pet turn out to be?

Twist the Familiar out of Shape

Another great way to find interesting plots to explore is to twist the way something works. I wondered about my new printer and came up with this little scenario.

Write Over the Hump

You purchase a new printer for your computer, but the only thing it will print is a warning. What is it? Who is the warning for? What does it mean? 10 minutes—starting now.

What warning did your printer give you?

Character Expose — Sabrina Compton

I have so many stories in process and so many characters in my head, that when Barbara M. Hodges, a great writer of suspense and mystery, asked me to be part of this Character Expose, I had trouble figuring out which character to choose! I really wanted to write about Meleia, my YA Heroine, but that series will probably be a while before it sees publication. So, I decided to write about Sabrina Compton, my female protagonist in my latest release, Sins of the Past.

So, here goes:
Name: Sabrina Steves Compton. She is a completely fictional character, born in this slightly twisted mind of mine. The story is set in the 1980s, and shifts between Washington, DC, Buffalo, New York and a barrier island off the coast of South Carolina.

What you need to know about Sabrina is that although she has suffered many losses in her life, and had a less-than-perfect relationship with her mother, there is a core of strength in her that has yet to be fully tested.

Sabrina at the start of the story is a quiet, timid woman who is totally wrapped up in her husband. She believes he had rescued her from obscurity by noticing, and then falling in love with, her. Her entire world is built on him, and she doesn’t understand just how dangerous it is to put oneself so completely in the hands of someone else. When someone else defines who you are, you can never be certain just who you really are.

Sabrina returns from shopping one day (she’s out buying birthday gifts for her husband) to find her house torn apart and her brutally battered husband dead in a pool of blood. Her whole world falls apart and she can’t seem to put in back into any semblance of order. Or logic. She flees to her vacation cottage on Gaffe Island, built for her great-grandmother by her great-grandfather, seeking respite from the horrible memories. What she doesn’t know until it is too late is that there are forces beyond her control that are on a collision course with her.

Sabrina’s main goal at the beginning of the story is to piece her life back together, to somehow discover who she is now that the person who defined her is no longer there, and to find the strength to live on. Subsequent events — and two men — will test her almost beyond her limits. To survive, she must discover that untapped reservoir of strength.

The book is titled Sins of the Past, and was released just three months ago. It’s available on Amazon.com in both print and digital format. Take a look and see what you think of Sabrina’s journey to independence. Thanks for reading about her!

Working With the Unfamiliar

What if the familiar wasn’t the same any more? Asking questions like this can lead into some great stories. Try this one on for size.

Write Over the Hump

You live in a semi-tropical environment, where the temperature never goes below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. You wake up one morning to find icicles hanging from the eaves of your house. Each day they grow bigger and bigger. Write about this for 10 minutes.

What happened at your icicle-clad house?

Writing and the Best Laid Plans

Ever wonder what might happen should your best-laid pans go awry? Here’s a great little exercise to play around with.

Write Over the Hump

You are on a 40 foot motorboat in the harbor, getting ready to celebrate a friend’s or relative’s birthday with a cruise along the coast. The boat heads straight out into the ocean. When you break into the bridge, there is no one at the helm, and none of the controls work. Write about what happens for 10 minutes, starting now.

What happened out there on the ocean?

(Context of last week’s overheard snippet: I was at a marina, and they were discussing shutting down the engine of a large boat. I had to stop and make sure it wasn’t really what the snippet sounded like. It wasn’t, much to my relief.)

The Value of A Notebook

Have you been keeping a notebook with you to jot down those snippets of overheard conversations? Keep one by your chair when you watch TV, too, because sometimes a phrase or two will resonate. And trust me, no matter how excited you are about it, chances are that an hour or two later you won’t remember it at all.

Write Over the Hump

Start with this actual overheard snippet of conversation (I kid you not!): “I thought I’d wait a few hours before I kill her…” You have 10 minutes. Go!

What happened when those few hours were up? And yes, I really overheard that one day. Check back next week and I’ll reveal the context.

Here’s the Medallion!

It’s up on the indieBRAG website: my book in all its glory! Take a stroll on by (IndieBRAG) and take a gander at my humble offering (you’ll find it under the genre Paranormal), and also check out the other books on their list. They’re the best of the best and well worth reading. And if you haven’t yet read Proof of Identity (shameless, I know, but I can’t help doing some self-promo work here), you can get it from the indieBRAG site, or click on the title on my publications page, which will take you to my Amazon Author Page with links to ordering my book(s). Enjoy, and lift a glass to celebrate with me!PROOF OF IDENTITY

The New “Official” Cover!

It’s up on the indieBRAG website: my book in all its glory! Take a stroll on by (IndieBRAG) and take a gander at my humble offering (you’ll find it under the genre Paranormal), and also check out the other books on their list. They’re the best of the best and well worth reading. And if you haven’t yet read Proof of Identity (shameless, I know, but I can’t help doing some self-promo work here), you can get it from the indieBRAG site, or click on the title on my publications page, which will take you to my Amazon Author Page with links to ordering my book(s). Enjoy, and lift a glass to celebrate with me!PROOF OF IDENTITY