Friday, August 30, 2013

Fear of Writing

by Jean Henry Mead

The biggest drawback to a writer’s success is fear. Fear of criticism from one’s peers or condemnation from the general public. Fear of negative reviews or of spending a year or more writing a book that doesn’t sell. Fear of hiring an agent who won’t send your book to the right publisher. The list is endless.

Fear is a natural human response, especially when you step off into unknown territory such as a new genre, new publisher, new editor. Even bestselling authors fear losing their readers. So how does a writer overcome those fears? By believing in your abilities and talents. Persistence or staying power must be a tool in every writer’s bag. Marcel Proust couldn’t finish his epic Remembrance of Things Past until his mother died because he feared hurting her feelings. How many other books have been set aside and never published because writers feared repercussions?

The writing profession kindles fear and involves taking risks but writers have to come to grips with their fears and channel them into their work, such as thriller novelists who produce chilling stories for their readers. Writer Greg Lavoy advises fellow scribblers not to ignore fear. “Whatever is suppressed not only has power over you, but will help create obstacles to continually remind you of what you’re hiding from, where you feel you don’t measure up, and whether you don’t have faith in yourself. Success often has as much to do with finding what is standing in your way as with talent or persistence.”

Plugging in a night light for someone who fears the dark doesn’t eliminate fear of the dark, only the darkness. Similarly, not sending out submissions to new publishers not only eliminates fear of rejection, it eliminates the ladder to success.

The poet W.H. Auden said, “Believe in your pain. Take it seriously,know that it has meaning and utility, and that it grows a powerful kind of writing.” Unfortunately, most of us will do everything in our power to avoid fear and rejection so we don’t learn from it.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Be careful what you write

by Bill Kirton

When a book you’ve written has been on the shelves and in Kindles and libraries for a few years, opening its pages can be a strange experience, almost as if you’re reading it as an objective outsider. It happened to me recently when I had to look for a quote from my historical novel, The Figurehead. Of course, I remembered the characters, the main events, the lovers, its overall shape and whodunnit, but other details, especially those which reveal things about me as a person, were a bit surprising.

That may sound strange, since I wrote it, but it simply confirms what I’ve always said about books, plays and poems – we put much more of ourselves into them than we realise. As well as its focus on murder, romance and history, The Figurehead has attitudes to commerce and passion, the rich-poor divide and the importance of community, all of which are important to me. But when I was writing about people in the Aberdeen of 1840, I wasn’t aware of how much those same beliefs were influencing my choices. It’s only when you get some distance between yourself and a work that you can appreciate just how intricately your inner self is bound into the fiction you’re creating.

Fashions in literary criticism (no, I’m not claiming I write ‘literature’) always keep changing and, quite often, the tension is between whether you need to know anything about a writer’s life to understand his/her works or whether the works are independent items, with enough of their own, internal coherence and information to make the writer irrelevant. I’m inclined to accept both approaches. If you’re swept along by a narrative, made to think, laugh, cry, or believe its characters are more real than those around you as you read, it’s served its purpose and it could have been written by a monkey with a typewriter. On the other hand, if you then discover biographical details about the author which ‘explain’ why he/she made certain choices, there are other resonances of the work which open new perspectives.

So, whether we like it or not, our writing reveals us in ways of which we’re unaware at the time. And, to take that a step further, I know that we only see some of the secrets we’re betraying and that reviewers may see things which we may not want to know about ourselves, things we deny. I may have said this before but it’s worth repeating in this context. Victor Hugo (out of favour now but by any standards a truly great writer), wrote that, when he saw a new play of his performed before an audience for the first time, it was as if his soul had climbed onto the stage and lifted its skirts for all to see.

Having said that, though, if anyone were to set The Figurehead alongside The Sparrow Conundrum to see what my soul looks like, they’d immediately be on the phone to a psychiatric unit.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Emotional Topics

When I read or see a movie, certain topics really grab me. I recently watched the 2005 movie Good Night and Good Luck about Edward R. Murrow taking on Joseph McCarthy. The theme of McCarthy using innuendo and statements not backed up by facts to ruin people pushed my emotional button on injustice. I found the movie captivating as I rooted for truth over lies.

This all ties into fairness and prejudice. In our society so many times people are judged without due diligence. This raises my hackles and gets my emotional juices flowing.
Good writing has this impact on readers and viewers. Whether a screenplay or a novel, tapping into emotional topics that involves the audience and keeps them reading or on the edge of their seats is what we all try to achieve.
What are the emotional topics that most impact you?

Mike Befeler

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Rereleasing a Book

by June Shaw

Having a book released gives an author a fantstic feeling. Having it released anew brings back all the flutters and excitement of the first time.

I'd waited so long, that the first time I sold a book, I couldn't believe it. Was the editor having an especially good day and buying everything that came over her desk? It must have been a fluke. And they published it in hardcover.

Reviews started to come in. Well-known authors really liked my book? And one reviewer after another -- including Publishers Weekly! And Deadly Ink nominated it for their David award for Best Mystery of the Year. Good grief.

Then this first book, RELATIVE DANGER, came out in large print. More sales. And Harlequin bought reprint rights for their mystery mass market book customers. I sold nonexclusive audio rights.

And I sold another book in the series. KILLER COUSINS was fun to write and sell, and again I drank in every bit of praise I received.

Third in the series came DEADLY REUNION, in which a mini-class reunion takes place on a cruise ship in Alaska. And I sold other books. And now...

I've come full circle. Untreed Reads has just rereleased RELATIVE DANGER as an ebook with a new cover. They're about to do the same with KILLER COUSINS and the following month, it will be DEADLY REUNION's turn.

All fun. All exciting. I hope you'll check it out.


http://www.juneshaw.com


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Learning to Love Revision

By Jackie King

Do you love or hate revision? When I first started writing I hated what seemed to me a tedious and mostly unnecessary exercise. What could need correcting except perhaps, punctuation and spelling? I had stories to tell and a passion to write these tales from the depth of my heart. I did a fair job of it, too, I thought. I even managed to sell a couple of short stories. (This was some time ago and the short story market was good.)

My mother, an English teacher, also wrote and hung around with folks having the same inclination. One of her more successful writer friends, a local journalist named Vera Holding, dropped by with a draft she’d just banged out on her typewriter. (Those were the clickety-clackety, non-electrical machines that writers, businesses and students used for letters, manuscripts and such back in the dark ages.)

“Would you listen to my story and give me some feedback?” Vera asked, and we agreed, so she began to read aloud. I had seen this woman’s published work and expected smooth and polished prose, but that didn’t happen. Her story was so bad I couldn’t think of anything to suggest that might help. Her work was unsalable in my opinion. So I decided to be kind and lie. “That’s just fine,” I said, and smiled.

Mother, who knew the woman and her work much better than I did, made some suggestions to strengthen the plot, but nothing could save that story. Or so I thought. Her work had no plot; her characters were shallow and her writing seemed lifeless. But bless her heart, I thought, she’d not learn that from me.

The next day Vera came back and asked to read her revised story aloud. I could hardly keep from rolling my eyes, disappointed that I had to listen to that drivel a second time. But I was raised to be polite, so I folded my hands in my lap, crossed my ankles, and pasted a smile on my lips.

When Vera began to read something magical happened. The day before I’d been bored and even a little embarrassed by her writing. Now I was transfixed. Somehow this author had breathed life into her characters, their dialogue and the narration. The plot was still weak, but the protagonist was so compelling that I knew the story would sell. And it did.

That day I became a devotee to the power of revision. I also learned the difference between a wanna-be writer and a professional writer. Learning and applying good writing technique takes time and many, many hours of writing. But anyone who is willing to make the effort and to revise their work until its right, can master this skill.

Years have passed and wordsmithing is my favorite part of writing.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Daisy in Polish

by Carola

My Daisy Dalrymple mysteries are now coming out in Poland. The Polish publisher bought the translation rights to the first 10, and I gather they're putting out one a week. This is the cover of the first, Death at Wentwater Court:


Cute and eye-catching, if somewhat inaccurate as far as the story's concerned. Very different from the original cover:


and the large print:













Not to mention the equally cartoonish US paperback:


and the UK edition:














Or the audio and two German editions each with different artwork!
They're calling the series Daisy D. I wonder if Dalrymple is impossible for Polish-speakers to pronounce.

There seems to be a boxed set of all 10. I'm not sure exactly how this works. Perhaps readers can buy the box along with one book and fill it as they come out? Or perhaps once all of them are out, they'll start selling the boxed set already filled. This box has the cover of the second in the series, The Winter Garden Mystery.
The spines of the volumes are very clever, producing a cat that strongly reminds me of the Pink Panther, which also adorns all three front covers that I've seen. Here's the third, Requiem for a Mezzo:


Interesting--especially as I can't remember ever writing about a cat in any of the Daisy books. There may be a casual mention somewhere in the 21 I've written to date, but I'm a dog-person and so is Daisy! Her stepdaughter's dog, Nana, appears in several of the books, finding a body in one and digging up a Clue in another, only to run away with it and rebury it. Nana even graces one cover:

I'd never actually described her appearance in detail, so now the artist has defined her.

With the help of friends and relatives, I've managed to put a welcome message in Polish on my website. A couple of days later I got more than twice as many hits than ever before--though I can't tell whether there were a lot of Poles!

While on the subject of cover art, I'm thrilled that the artist who's done so many great covers for Daisy (including Black Ship, above, but not Wentwater Court) is passing through town today and we're hoping to arrange to meet. I'm trying to decide which is my favourite, in case he asks.

Monday, August 19, 2013

What's so Funny?






By Mark W. Danielson

I love humor.  Always have.  That’s why I include it in my stories.  My love of comedy came from growing up with funny people like Jonathon Winters.   A master at improvisation, he could make anything funny.   Johnny Carson and Steve Allen were right up there with their joke-telling.  Red Skelton, Tim Conway and Harvey Korman rarely made it through a skit without busting up.  All Carol Burnett had to do was walk on stage, make a face, and tears of laughter flowed.  Back then, life was simpler and the jokes cleaner.  I miss those days.

I’m not sure when the transition occurred, but nowadays most jokes come at others' expense.  Sarcasm went from Benny Hill’s wit to late night monologues that thrive on criticism and slams.  How many times must Olive Garden and Taco Bell be the butt of their jokes before they retaliate with libel suits?  More importantly, how did we get to where we must bash others to get a laugh?

Sadly, too many of our current entertainers cannot walk on stage without using foul language.  In their defense, they may have been influenced by Richard Pryor, who was a very funny man, but could not deliver a line without the F-bomb.  What these comedians fail to realize is that too much of anything numbs their audience.  What is the benefit in cursing if it is used in every sentence?  For that matter, if cussing is part of your vocabulary, what do you say or do when you get really angry? 

Another downside in mean humor is in how it has affected society.  No doubt some will ask whether modern-day comedy is responsible for our mean nature, or that our mean nature changed how we laugh.  Either way, it is clear that manners and respect have taken a back seat.

Like sex, mean comedy sells.  If it didn’t, it would have faded years ago.  Writers and editors who see mean humor in novels should ask whether it adds to their story.  If their character is upset, then foul language is probably appropriate, but if cursing is overused in your dialogue, you may be turning off your readers.  Humor style can also date a story.

These days there is an abundance of mean humor-inspired television shows.  Whether it is a so-called reality show or one intended as a practical joke, all achieve their laughs at someone’s expense.  Is this really the best we can do?  Have our comedians lost their ability to create something humorous or do they sink to this level to get attention?  Is suppose this is as rhetorical as deciding whether the chicken or the egg came first. 

Laughter is the best medicine for the body and the soul, so laugh it up.  Make it clean and it will be timeless.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Robert W. Walker Talks About Annie's War



Welcome to Murderous Musings, Rob. Tell us about your intriguing new Civil War novel, Annie's War.

I have for years wished to go back to pick up some manuscripts that I had written in the early to late 80s, among them Annie's War - Love Amid the Ruins.  The ruins refers to the failed attempt of the infamous John Brown who is arguably the first home-grown terrorist in America, whose raid on a US Armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia in 1859 precipitated the Civil War along with a number of other incidents and pressures of the day. I began my writing career as a historical fiction author with a Huckleberry Finn-like novel written while a high school student. I got into crime novels and horror novels as a way to make a living at writing. At the time that I wrote ANNIE'S WAR and a number of YA historical coming of age novels, there was little to no interest in historical fiction.

Previous to returning to Annie's War and dusting off the manuscript some 20 years later, I had done the same with my Children of Salem - Love Amid the Witch Trials. With the success of rebuilding that manuscript, I was emboldened then to rebuild Annie's War with the skills and learning I had arrived at these many years later after writing well over fifty other novels from thrillers to urban fantasy.

 One of my favorite subjects has always been the Civil War and all the issues leading up to the greatest conflict ever on American soil. I wanted to tell the old John Brown story through the eyes of his 17-year-old daughter who has fallen in love with her father's 1st in command, John Henry Kagi. I love to explore relationships and character, and how characters interact. I write character-driven novels, and Annie has the greatest spirit. She is a fighter, full of spunk and vinegar and at the same time an extremely engaging character. She has to fight for every step of the way through a plot dictated by an historical timeline.


The novel is not 'just' an historical novel as I worked extremely hard to layer it; eighteen men that Annie keeps house for are going into a situation that might likely see them all killed, and among them is the father of her unborn child. This is a tragedy in the making unless Annie can win her small corner of this war. Things are further complicated when a Pinkerton agent on his first job is on a mission to assassinate Annie's father, but spending days and nights with Annie, he falls in love with her, and the boy meets girl tale plays out against the backdrop of gunfire and lynch mobs.

I had great fun, a ball really, writing Annie's War anew, and not a bit of dust remains on the story. The reviews thus far have been glowing, and I feel it may well be my best work ever.

You can learn more about Robert Walkter on Twitter, DorothyL,  Facebook at Robert W. Walker (Rob) and Facebook at Titanic 2012 - Curse of RMS Titanic, as well as:  http://www.robertwalkerbooks.com/

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Book Fairs

by Bill Kirton

I’ve only ever been to one major book fair (as opposed to book festivals, of which I’ve attended many) but I imagine they’re all pretty similar.

It was the London Book Fair, around which I wandered aimlessly for two of its three days. We all know how many hundreds of thousands of books are being produced each year but, sitting in our studies or kitchens or attics or yachts or sheds or wherever as we scribble our masterpieces, we still manage to persuade ourselves that readers will snap up our babies the minute we let them out. But when you see row upon row of stalls, with crowds milling round them all, smartly dressed people sitting at tables with impressive document holders before them deep in earnest discussions with other movers and shakers, huge adverts for books by people you’ve already heard of and who hardly need the PR, you start to think that the wee label you’ve pinned to yourself which identifies you as an AUTHOR is the equivalent of wearing a yellow sack, ringing a bell and shouting ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ as you move through it all.

At the same time, it gives a sort of smug satisfaction that all these people are only here and only earning a living because writers write books. When it’s laid before you in this way, with translators, little independent publishers, foreign rights, niche markets, huge publishing empires and God knows what else, it’s a pulsating proof that the industry is enormous and dynamic. So vast, in fact, that you get this ambivalent feeling that your ambitions are presumptuous and yet there must be a wee corner in it somewhere for you.

But it doesn’t feel like the place that you can go up to someone on one of the stalls and say ‘Hey, I’ve written this great book. Want to read it?’ The response would range from a puzzled, concerned look to an old Anglo-Saxon invitation to go away. My impression, in fact, was that this wasn’t about books, but about deals. And that’s fine because that’s how it works. We just have to make sure one or more of our books is/are part of those deals.


Monday, August 12, 2013

My Parents During World War II

Two thing have caused me to think of my parents' experiences during World War II. First, I’ve been writing the biography of a 94-year-old may who was in the infantry in Europe, captured by the Germans, kept in a prisoner-of-war camp and repatriated by the Russians. Second, I recently participated in a ceremony where butterflies were released to commemorate loved ones, and I sponsored butterflies for my dad and mom who died respectively in 1968 and 2005.


My mom came to Hawaii in 1935 when she was 21 years old, sailing on the Lurline from Los Angeles to Honolulu. On Sunday morning December 7, 1941, she opened the office of Globe Wireless in Honolulu and didn’t get off work until almost midnight, given all the messages that needed to be sent to the mainland after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. I remember hearing stories of curfew and black out curtains in Honolulu and the rumors of poisoned water supplies and concerns that an invasions by Japanese troops would follow the bombing.

 
My dad, Murray Befeler, was a war correspondent with the Associated Press and served as Pacific Pool Coordinator of photography. He was stationed on Guam at the time of the invasion of Iwo Jima, and he was the person who selected Joe Rosenthal’s picture of the flag raising on Iwo Jima to be send to the mainland.

 
Like many people exposed to World War II, my dad spoke very little about his experiences. The only story I overheard was how he stayed sober and won a lot of money at poker.

 
In 1954 he took a trip through the Pacific and photographed scenes of ten years after the war. I still have a set of 35mm slides showing rusted landing craft and downed airplanes on a number of islands such as Saipan.

 
In looking at records on Ancestry.com, I found evidence of my own World War II experience. I arrived in Honolulu on March 5, 1945, at the age of three months after nine days at sea when my mom brought me from San Francisco on the S. S. Permanente. I remember my mom mentioning that she had come over on a cement ship. For years I thought this meant the ship was made of cement rather than it had been a ship that had transported cement for Henry J. Kaiser’s company.


Mike Befeler

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Planning a wedding

by June Shaw

My granddaughter's getting married in Baton Rouge August 9, so I hope you'll all understand why I can't think of anything else to write this week.

Have a great weekend!

www.juneshaw.com

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Dog Days Lament


by Jackie King

The dog-days of summer arrived a little later this year, and along with the heat came lethargy and indolence. I’m calling this the lazy-day-syndrome, and I fear that I’m infected. Coining a disease sounds less harsh than calling myself a slug, don’t you think? (I have a habit of excusing all of my bad habits…my favorite is describing my tendency toward untidiness as artistic clutter.

The above paragraph is in explanation of today’s struggle, which is settling down to edit an almost-finished book. The word-smithing isn’t going at all well. My dialogue sounds as if it needs heavy starch and a hot iron.

I spent considerable time scanning through dialogue, knowing that what I was reading wasn’t quite up to snuff, but not sure how to fix the problem. I wanted to put the work aside, telling myself that it was too hot to work, but that’s not going to bring in royalties and pay the bills. So I decided to let off some steam for a while and lambast my pet peeve, as a reader, not a writer. Complaining always makes a person feel better, don’t you think?

I abhor the current odious trend of using both a punctuation mark and a question mark at the end of a sentence. Why? It’s insulting to me as a reader. It’s as if the author is saying, “I can’t trust you to get this, so I’m red-lighting the words to help you out.”

News flash: If the sentence is written correctly, I’ll get it. Also, when I see double punctuation at the end of one sentence, my first emotion is to throw the book across the room.

Why? Because it’s insulting to my intelligence. If the sentence is exciting, trust me, I’ll know that. If it isn’t, an exclamation mark won’t convince me.

Okay, I’ve had my little verbal temper-tantrum and now I feel all better. Guess I’ll go back to editing.

Hugs to all,

Jackie

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Not exactly murder...

by Carola

CROSSED QUILLS (Now on sale at $1.99 for Kindle or UK £1.34) is not a mystery. It's a Regency, and no one is murdered in it.

But it does have a subplot dealing with unnatural death.

It's the story of a couple of star-crossed writers. Pippa writes Radical political tracts under her deceased father's pseudonym. Wynn Selworth writes spicy Gothic melodramas under the pen-name Valentine Dred. Then Wynn inherits a noble title and must make his maiden speech in the House of Lords. He begs for help from Pippa's father, whose writing and radicalism he admires.
How can Pippa aid him without giving away her secret? Not only is her work politically dangerous, but Society would shun her if they knew about it.

How can Wynn keep his racy authorship hidden from the Ton? No one will take him seriously as a politician if they find out.

Pippa's first suggestion is to narrow his focus from all the ills of Regency England to one specific topic, where he might have a chance of changing people's minds and making a difference. Between them (though Wynn still believes he's communicating through Pippa with her father), they settle on the horrible plight of chimney sweeps.


Little boys as young as 5 were sent up chimneys to clean them. If they objected, the master sweep often set a fire to force them to climb. Sometimes, in the days when every room had a fireplace, they got lost in complicated mazes of interconnected flues:



They often suffered burns and bruises. They might suffocate in a fall of soot. They coughed and wheezed. Their masters were legally obliged to feed them but often left them to scrounge or steal for food. And in the end, if they survived to grow up, they developed "chimney sweep's cancer," later diagnosed as squamous cell cancer, usually of the scrotum.

Where did the master sweeps find these unhappy boys?  They bought them from the Poor Houses and from poverty-stricken parents. Cases were known of well-born children kidnapped and sold into the trade.

And did my fictional Wynn, Lord Selworth, succeed in awaking the conscience of the nation? Or at least the conscience of the House of Lords? You'll have to read Crossed Quills to find out the result of his crusade.

You can start with a couple of excerpts here:
http://historicalfictionexcerpts.blogspot.com/2013/07/crossed-quills-kindle-sale.html

 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Post Cold War Trilogy Background

By Chester Campbell

When I first wrote my post Cold War political thriller trilogy back in the early nineties, I had a character who, as a young man, had been led off course by a charismatic leader who then rejected him as a failure. I wanted to show how his courage and determination overcame the stigma of that experience and allowed him to regain his self-respect. It had to play out against the backdrop of tensions that remained in the aftermath of the Cold War.

For years I had devoured Cold War spy stories like a chocoholic with a plate of brownies. I supplemented my novel reading with a steady supply of books on the KGB, the CIA, and figures like the famous British-born Soviet spy, Kim Philby. By the time I took up novel writing, I was well-versed in the field of espionage. I also kept up with events in the Soviet Union and what occurred when it was dissolved and the Commonwealth of Independent States came into being.

The central character, Burke Hill, faces one crisis after another in Beware the Jabberwock, the first book in the trilogy. A former FBI agent, he has the moxie to tangle with rogue elements on both sides of the old Iron Curtain. Rather than have him battle the odds alone, however, I created a sharp, talented, independent young woman to share the journey, his old CIA pal's daughter, Lorelei Quinn. She provides additional incentive for Burke when the bad guys target her as a way of getting to him.

The second book, The Poksu Conspiracy, finds Burke working as director of clandestine activities for a PR firm that's a CIA spinoff. I continued to develop his character as a tough, uncompromising intelligence agent. Lori Quinn, now Mrs. Burke Hill, remains in the background, pregnant with twins. As with the first book, I spent almost as much effort creating the bad guys as I did the good ones. I gave them full backgrounds and valid reasons for acting as they did.

When it came to book three, Overture to Disaster, I had a different idea. Instead of starting the story with Burke Hill, I came up with two widely different characters on opposite sides of the world, both tormented by painful experiences from the past. I used my Air Force background and a lot of additional research to create Special Operations helicopter pilot Col. Roddy Rodman. His counterpart in the east was Chief Investigator Yuri Shumakov with the Minsk, Belarus city prosecutor.

Rodman was court-martialed for an error that resulted in his helicopter being shot down over Iran, with everyone aboard killed except the two pilots. While working to learn how his brother, a Soviet Army captain, was killed, Shumakov is falsely accused of murder. The two characters' paths cross in Mexico where they discover they're both looking for the same person. That's where Burke Hill comes into the picture as he joins forces with the other two men.

If you're a fan of conspiracy theories, you'll love Overture. Behind the plot is a shadowy group of international bankers and corporate socialists. It will be out as an ebook on Amazon in a couple of weeks.

Visit me at Mystery Mania

Monday, August 5, 2013

Maxx -- on parenting





By Guest Author Maxx Danielson  (Number one house doggie)


My siblings and I were romping when suddenly we were pulled from Mom, placed in a cage and taken to a strange location where frightened dogs yipped and howled.  Sad and confused, a large cat roamed like a warden with a president’s poise.  When darkness fell, my siblings and I huddled together, whimpering.  The next morning, toothy-grinned giants started picking us up.  One-by-one, my sisters and brothers disappeared.  By the end of the day, I was alone with that awful cat. 

More giants came the next morning.  Some held me.  All set me down.  Late that afternoon, a middle-aged couple picked me up and cuddled me like no one had before.  I licked their faces, certain they were my new best friends.  We spent time in a small room, playing while they talked, but then they set me down and waved good bye.  Soon it was dark again and my nightmares began. 

Whenever I awoke, the cat was there gazing at me.  I awoke to a familiar scent, then the lady from yesterday appeared.  Now wide-awake, I stood tall, begging for her to hold me.  I cuddled into her like I did my mom, but then she set me down and left. 

With my spirit crushed, I shivered with my eyes squeezed shut, ignoring the bouncing puppies vying for attention.  Then I heard that angelic voice again, soft at first and getting louder.  With my heart racing and tail spinning, I tail nearly got airborne.  As she smiled and lifted me to her chest, I began licking her face with all my might.  I knew I was going with her when she started calling me Maxx.  The sales lady laughed when my savior said Maxx had two Xs because I was extra special.  The watch-cat gave me a chin nod when the sales lady said I was a Christmas baby.  I didn’t understand this, but when I wagged my tail again, the watch-cat walked away. 

Soon I was in another strange place, but here I was running loose, showered with toys, food and a soft bed.  Though I still yearned for my real mom and siblings, my giants became my adopted family.  Since then I have learned that birds fly, fish swim and squirrels drive me mad.  Snow is cold, water is wet, my teeth must be brushed, my hair must be cut, burs cling to my fur, and without opposable thumbs, I constantly need help from my giants.  But whether I am patrolling the house, playing catch, rough-housing, or walking with them, there is no better feeling than their unconditional love.  Once they are asleep, I passionately return their love by sleeping between them, thanking them for letting me into their lives.  Mom and Dad, you’re the greatest!            

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Husband and Wife Writing Team

J.J. and Betty Golden Lamb

To series or not to series; that was the question.
   
After our first co-authored medical thriller (BONE DRY) was published, we started work on our second collaboration… although we should have started much sooner than that!

It was a time of thinking, thinking, thinking about whether to do a sequel, or write something totally different. We agreed that what we didn’t want was to get involved in all the details, strictures, and rigmarole of doing a series. You know, free spirits, too many things to write about.

So, the second collaboration (Heir Today…) was a suspense-adventure novel, with romantic overtones. Both books followed that well-worn – and accurate – axiom, write about what you know. With one of us an RN and the other a journalist, well, you get the gist.

Still, while writing that second book, we never stopped thinking and talking about our first book’s lead character, RN Gina Mazzio.  We liked her … so did a lot of other people. And we kept speculating about other criminal/medical plots where Gina could get involved … without being tossed out of her hospital for being a magnet for trouble … deadly trouble.

Pulled in two directions – stand-alones or series – we compromised with an off-beat medical thriller (Sisters in Silence), where the lead character would be the killer. Certainly not a role for our favorite RN, Gina Mazzio.

One would think that long before this we would have given in to all the published evidence that readers like series, and many writers do quite well with them. (With our inherent stubbornness, we were still working on stand-alones, together and individually!)

But … Gina kept popping up, in thought and conversation. We just couldn’t abandon her. She cried out for a new adventure, to be pushed to new limits. Thus was born the second Gina Mazzio, RN medical thriller (Sin and Bone).

There it was – we had a sequel, and possibly were on our way to what we’d tried to avoid from the beginning – a series!

After two books and two attempts on her life, Gina needed a break, not from us, but from San Francisco’s Ridgewood Hospital … and all the deadly memories associated with it.
       
What better plan than to take off on twin travel nurse assignments with fiancĂ© Harry Lucke, who’s been doing this sort of thing virtually his whole career. Their destination: a rehab center for Alzheimer’s patients in an area we know quite well – the country in and around Virginia City, NV.

On arrival at the Comstock Medical Auxiliary Facility, the first thing Gina notices are iron bars across all the second-floor windows. Before the day is out, her ever-present curiosity draws her and Harry into the midst of an illegal scheme to manipulate test results for an experimental drug being touted as a cure for Alzheimer’s.

It’s medicine, mines, madness, and murder.

______
Betty Golden Lamb, a registered nurse, has developed parallel careers as a painter, sculptor, and ceramist. Her art works can be found in a number of galleries and private collections.

Bone Pit is the third book in the Gina Mazzio, RN medical thriller series, which includes Bone Dry and Sin and  Bone. These, along with Sisters in Silence and Heir Today, were co-authored with husband J.J.


J. J. Lamb is a career writer – journalism, short stories, and novels. In addition to fiction co-authored with Bette, he is the creator of the Zachariah Tobias Rolfe III private eye series, the latest of which, No Pat Hands, is scheduled to appear in 2013.

The Lambs live in Northern California and are members of international Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime.