Authors In Our Midst and Writers Chatting

How is October skittering by so quickly? My best efforts to try and do at least twice-monthly writing group posts has slipped away. I will be traveling the next 10+ days, so this will have to be it for this month.

We have another new book release this week. This time from author Vicki Delaney/Eva Gates.  This is the fourth in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series for Crooked Lane Books:

November 13: A Scandal in Scarlet: A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mystery
“Holmes, himself, would be quite proud!” Suspense Magazine
Pre-order here

Sherlockians will delight at the latest charming installment of national bestselling author Vicki Delany’s fourth Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mystery.

Gemma and Jayne donate their time to raise money for the rebuilding of a burned out museum―but a killer wants a piece of the auction.

Walking her dog Violet late one night, Gemma Doyle, owner of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop, acts quickly when she smells smoke outside the West London Museum. Fortunately no one is inside, but it’s too late to save the museum’s priceless collection of furniture, and damage to the historic house is extensive. Baker Street’s shop owners come together to hold an afternoon auction tea to raise funds to rebuild, and Great Uncle Arthur Doyle offers a signed first edition of The Valley of Fear. 

Cape Cod’s cognoscenti files into Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room, owned by Gemma’s best friend, Jayne Wilson. Excitement fills the air (along with the aromas of Jayne’s delightful scones, of course). But the auction never happens. Before the gavel can fall, museum board chair Kathy Lamb is found dead in the back room. Wrapped tightly around her neck is a long rope of decorative knotted tea cups―a gift item that Jayne sells at Mrs. Hudson’s.

Now available:The Spook in the Stacks, A Lighthouse Library mystery
by Eva Gates, One Woman Crime Wave

Vicki was also kind enough to write a little bit for us about what makes a Cozy Mystery to get our writers chatting something to start chatting about:

I have written (so far) thirty-two books.  I’ve written historical fiction (The Klondike Gold Rush books) modern Gothic thrillers (More than Sorrow) psychological suspense (Burden of Memory), police procedurals (the constable Molly Smith series) books for adult literacy (White Sand Blues) and cozies (The Year Round Christmas series, and the Lighthouse Library series by Eva Gates). I like to shake things up a bit and switch sub-genres, styles and moods.

These days I’m pretty much just writing cozies and I’m enjoying them very much.

My newest book is the fourth in the Sherlock Holmes bookshop series, A Scandal in Scarlet from Crooked Lane Books.

These books are firmly in the cozy camp and are about a woman who owns The Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium in the Cape Cod town of West London, located at 222 Baker Street. The business next door is Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room, at 220 Baker Street.

The main character, Gemma Doyle, is a modern young woman who bears an intellectual resemblance to the Great Detective himself. Her side-kick Jayne Wilson is ever-confused but always loyal.

Sounds a bit silly? Sure it does. And it’s supposed to be. It’s nothing but fun, and what’s wrong with that?

I’ve come to realize that cozy mysteries are about real people living real lives (except for that pesky murder bit), although writ large. Everything is exaggerated. The nosy neighbour is nosier, the ditzy friend is ditzier, the mean girl is meaner. And the handsome man is, well, handsomer.  Even better if there are two of them.

After putting in my time writing police procedurals and psychological thrillers, I’m having a lot of fun writing cozies.  Keep it light, keep it funny, and have a good time with it.

Cozy mysteries are not trying to make an important statement about the human condition, or hoping to change the world. A cozy mystery tells a story that attempts to be entertaining, that’s about people much like us (or like us if we were prettier, or smarter, or younger!) and our friends and family.

Cozy mysteries are very much ‘puzzle mysteries’: a game of wits between the author and the reader as to whether or not the astute reader can solve the crime before the amateur detective does (i.e. before the author reveals it). Clues must be laid down in such a way that the reader has a chance of reaching the conclusion on their own.

Cozies don’t have a sense of tragedy. People do not live tragic lives and they don’t fear tragic happenings. Someone is murdered, and that’s never funny, but they are generally not much liked by the community or strangers to it. Their death needs to be solved so that the perfect, orderly community can go back to the way it was – perfect and orderly.  The characters live in an essentially good world that needs to be put back to rights. No human trafficking rings, child prostitutes, mob hit men, Alt-right thugs, or Russian assassins here.

So pull up a pull up a comfortable arm chair or get out your deck chair. Light a fire in the fireplace, or slap on that sunscreen, pour yourself a mug of hot tea or something icy and simply enjoy the adventures of Gemma and Jayne as they try to put things right in West London, Massachusetts.

I have read a couple of her books and they are a fun read. I especially love her Christmas mysteries. What are you writing these days?


80 replies
  1. 1

    Hey you guys, I’ve had a really sucky week, so I’m trying to have a down day today. I won’t be around for this thread, so play nice. And thanks Vicki for sharing your book and your thoughts.

  2. 2

    Kitteh in the window looks pawsome!

  3. 3
    opiejeanne says:

    19 minutes in and no one has posted?
    I usually come in late and just read everyone else’s comments on these threads.

  4. 4
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    Just watched the new Doctor Who, absolutely brilliant. Won’t say anything else for those who have not watched yet.

  5. 5
    opiejeanne says:

    The cozies look like something my husband would like. I’ll buy him one, but I have a question about the murder weapon in the highlighted book: a long rope of decorative knotted tea cups. I can not for the life of me picture this. Can someone help?

    Oh, was it supposed to be knitted teacups? Still having trouble picturing it.

  6. 6
    opiejeanne says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Yes, kitten in window is awesome and you’re not no one.

  7. 7
    opiejeanne says:

    @opiejeanne: Like this possibly?

    knitted teacups

  8. 8

    I suppose I could use a cozy in my life right now. Everything else is too stressful.

    I’m letting the fantasy story draft lie fallow right now. I’ve been meaning to pick my webcomic back up but want to settle into the new job first (tomorrow!) and then move of course. I feel like I’m “failing as a writer” (lol) by letting a major life change get in the way of productivity. But, I mean, won’t be but another month.

    My goal is to have the short story out to readers by the end of the year and then I’ll pick my novel back up. Exciting if daunting, the novel. Sigh.

  9. 9

    just trying to write anything at the moment. too distracted at work and getting ready to go to next Saturday’s Florida Writer’s Conference for the Royal Palm awards ceremony.

    I did get a new business card to help promote meself.

  10. 10
    Josie says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    Life does tend to interfere with the writing process at times, but I tell myself that it’s more important to do it well than to do it quickly. I guess I’m lucky that I don’t depend on my writing to buy the groceries. Good luck with your move and your new job.

  11. 11
    stinger says:

    What are you writing these days?

    I’m about half or maybe a third of the way through a contemporary romantic thriller, set in partly in Galveston, Texas, and partly in the heroine’s Midwestern home town. My real news for the week is that I got my rejection note from the good folks who published Dorothy Winsor’s The Wind Reader. The publisher kept my manuscript for a while — apparently some of their readers liked it, but not well enough or enough of them to decide finally to publish. Disappointing, but they provided a few lines of critique, some of which actually confirmed my worst fears about part of the plot. I’m going to take a stab at restructuring that part. I don’t know if the same publisher would consider it again, once rewritten, in their next open submission season, but I could always submit it elsewhere.

    As for reading, I do like all of the genres Vicki Delaney works in, so I will have to look for her titles. Thanks for front-paging her!

  12. 12

    I want to write a book about Mumbai, the city of my origin and home to generations of my family. One that has nothing to do with gangsters and the underworld. Right now I am in the free writing stage, just collecting my thoughts and putting it on paper.

  13. 13

    @stinger: I’ve found that my instinct that a part is bad—“boy I hope nobody notices!”—almost always means somebody will notice, and it’s bad.

  14. 14
    germy says:

    For Release Monday

    Our Publicity Department submits the following items of interest (of interest to our Publicity Department) concerning a few of our authors. In case you do not want to print them, they go awfully well with peanut butter.


    How does an author work when he has been put in a strait-jacket by relatives? This question is answered by Germer C. Arsh, author of “Brimmer Grows a Goatee and Other Sonnets,” to be published in the Fall by the Aesophagus Press. “I just lie there and think very hard,” he says, “and pretty soon the book is written by my sister.”


    “Arabian is the easiest language in the world to learn, next to Choctaw,” says the Princess Ludovica von Preepos und Schnurbart, whose novel, Tight Grows the Eel-Grass, is already being considered for rejection by the Aesophagus Press. “All you have to do is remember that all verbs meaning ‘to inhale’ take the dative.”

    – Robert Benchley

  15. 15

    @Major Major Major Major: Me too. I’ve learned to trust my doubts.

    I like mysteries in general, and cozies are what I need these days.

    I’m revising a draft of a book about Dilly, a character in The Wind Reader. The POV alternates between a boy and a girl. I just read all the girls chapters through for continuity. Now I’m working on the boy’s. Revising is my favorite part of writing.

  16. 16
    opiejeanne says:

    I’m working on an historical novel set in the Missouri Ozarks during the Civil War, or starts there and runs to Vicksburg, St Louis, Oxford, Mississippi, and back. The farm owned by the Green family is the center of it (I have to change a bunch of last names but right now they’re the Greens). The main main character is a girl who is 9 in 1859 but this is no Little House book, there are some nasty, gritty things that happen to people around her, especially a slave girl about the same age who was raised as one the children in the bankowner’s home. She was a toddler when her owner (and probable father) gave her as wedding gift to the bride. (This is a person who really lived.
    The banker mentioned above lives in Linn Creek (a real town that is now under Lake of the Oarks) and it suddenly dawned on me that I should look at what banks were like because I have characters traveling from Missouri to Mississippi and I was curious about what kind of money they’d use or encounter. The type of currency is a tricky question because the Missouri banks were still issuing their own money and honoring each other’s money early in the Civil War. I knew that in MS they’d encounter Confederate bills, but there was also Union scrip. When I tried to go down that rabbit hole, I ended up reading a doctoral candidate’s project about how the Confederate sympathizers conspired to defraud the banking system in Missouri early in the war in order to fund the Confederate cause. The damage they did was incredible and by 1863 the breadth of the fraud was becoming evident when some banks collapsed.
    Banks were linked to the state bank but operated almost like private clubs, making loans mostly to family or trusted friends. Because so many of these loans were to others the people who wanted the loans offered properties as security that were described as developed and operational plantations in the Boonslick area of Missouri, which is where most slave plantations were in that state. In 1863 it was discovered that many of these properties were either undeveloped land or simply did not exist, and the size of the fraud threatened to collapse the entire state’s banking system.
    I’m about to wreck the banker and his family who have until now led a charmed life, partly due to the labor of other humans they owned and I know how to do so now. I read most of that paper which was probably 300+ pages in order to write a couple of paragraphs with some accuracy. Every little skirmish, every battle I’ve written about happened. I’m not entirely sure I’ve succeeded at making things clear in my writing so I go back periodically and bash away at something I wrote months ago to tweak it, make it more readable, and maybe a bit more interesting.

  17. 17
    Tom Levenson says:

    I’m at the revise, revise, revise stage of my current MS — which clocks in at a ridiculous ~120,000 words. It’s due at my publishers a year ago last January, so I won’t be able to do my worry the beast to death routine on it. I just compiled it into a single file (24 chapters and an epilogue) and I haven’t read it in that form yet. I find myself procrastinating against the inevitable horrors.

    In other words, making progress, hit a big milestone, would like to spend a week drinking umbrella drinks, but don’t have the time.

    See y’all later.

    PS: a cozy Sherlockian mystery sounds perfect right now.

    PPS The book is a revisionist account of the South Sea Bubble — in which I (I hope) link the birth of the modern idea of money to the scientific revolution.

  18. 18


    Football Sunday. People distracted. Sorry.

  19. 19

    I have a question for Vicki. How tricky is it to write a Sherlock Holmes book and not tread on copyright? I know Holmes himself is fair game, but I was a panel a couple years ago where someone said the stuff from the Basil Rathbone movies was still protected so they couldn’t use something. I think it may have been the pipe and hat?

    The book sounds like fun.

  20. 20

    Here’s a sample of what I’m writing:

    Amy Alee was not terrified of the ghost girl hovering in the dorm room’s shower stall. She was more annoyed the spirit – pale yet corporeal – was hogging all the hot water.
    “Dammit. Why couldn’t you be the type of ghost that passes through stuff?” Amy snarled at the tall twiggy girl floating just inches away from her. “Or, you know, have things pass through her?”
    “There are things about this unforgiving life that keeps me wandering through this material world,” the ghost answered in a soft voice, water dripping down her long auburn hair now matted to her shoulders.
    Amy grunted. “I take it you’re still signed up for the philosophy classes they’re offering on campus.”
    The girl blinked as if thinking back. “It has been some time for me. All I know of the world has been this place. I can’t recall the last class I took. All I can recall are the lost promises.”
    “You’re not the happiest of phantoms, are you?” Amy sighed. “Do us a favor and cut off the water. You’re closest to the handle.”
    Amy padded onto the vinyl bathroom floor, her feet the only part of her soaked. She waited to see if the ghost followed her out of the stall, and when the pale figure emerged Amy got a better look at the poor thing.
    The girl looked to be Amy’s own age, just out of high school and straight into college. Her body was slim but her face was round and would seem warming if not for the pallid skin and dazed look in her eyes. The nightdress she had on reached her ankles but thanks to getting splashed in the shower it was clinging to her body, hinting at what little she wore underneath.
    Amy grabbed her big towel and offered it to the ghost. “You need this. Wetter than I am, and you’ll catch your death.” She shrugged and sighed. “Again.”
    The girl blinked with those wide sad eyes a few times before realizing the towel was a good thing. “Oh.” She grabbed the cloth with one hand, her chilled skin brushing over Amy’s palm, and began rubbing her hair and upper body.
    “You need a blow dryer?” Amy asked, just seeing how far the ghost was aware of her surroundings. Her own experiences from before taught her most ghosts were stuck in a loop of madness, a repeated cycle of words and acts. But this girl was new, different. She interacted. She understood. Maybe.
    The ghost pulled the towel away from her hair, exposing a fluffed out mess. She stared at the mirror behind Amy and seemed intrigued by her own appearance. “I don’t think so,” the girl whispered. “But a brush, yes a brush I do need one.”
    Amy nodded, impressed. “Well, I got my own, but dad always packs for me to make sure I got all my needs covered, so there’s a comb in my stuff somewhere.” She took a minute to examine her belongings and found one she could share. “Give me a second to finish cleaning up.”
    Amy knocked on the door between the bathroom and her dorm room. “Okay, we’re coming out, hope you’re decent.”
    She stepped into a spartan arrangement of bunk beds to each side of the room, with desks facing the tall narrow windows glowing in the morning light. The room didn’t look a mess – clothes were neatly draped over the chairs at least – other than the kicked-over bed cover lying on the floor next to the roommate’s bed. The cover was there because Amy’s roommate was busy curling up under the rest of her bedsheets in utter terror.
    “Kassi?” Amy walked over to the bed and patted the sheets, which only caused the terrified girl underneath to shriek and shudder harder. “Look, okay, I should have warned you when we first met, I should have told you I’m something of a Crazy Magnet.”
    Kassi’s voice stammered from beneath the sheets. “You… you knew… you knew there was a ga… ghhh… ghost here?”
    Amy heard the door creak behind her, turning to see the ghost girl floating into the room, half her hair combed straight again and the rest still wildly splayed.
    Amy took a few steps toward her, gesturing her hands downward. “You can stop hovering,” she hissed at the girl, “You’re physical enough to walk. You’re scaring the normals!”

  21. 21
    stinger says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Yep. I’ve encountered that many a time. If I’m tripping over it, someone else will too. It was just that the novel was two years in the works (well, 20 years, really) and when it was “done” I was eager to get it out there. I loved it but was so sick of reading and re-reading it in sections that I could never bring myself to sit down and read the whole thing and consider taking, not a scalpel, but a chainsaw to it! I believe now I have enough distance on it to do what needs to be done.

  22. 22
    stinger says:

    @Dorothy A. Winsor: I love editing and proofreading (other people’s stuff).

  23. 23
    Pogonip says:

    @opiejeanne: Mr. Green did it, in the conservatory, with the knotted teacups.

  24. 24
  25. 25
    JoyceH says:

    What are you writing these days?

    I’m writing a paranormal Pride and Prejudice variation, which I hope to be the first in a series.

    It’s been slow going this summer – I don’t know about the other writers here, but I find it difficult to detach from our current wretched reality. I liken it to trying to write a cute funny little story while living in Westeros. But recently I read an article for writers dealing with, uh, inability to proceed. It said to give yourself permission to write just fifteen minutes a day. So that’s what I’ve been doing. I set a timer, and generally crank out about 500 words. Not setting the world on fire, but inching toward the finish line. I hope to eventually get back to more output, but in the meantime, at least I AM writing.

  26. 26
    Emerald says:

    @opiejeanne: Sounds really interesting! Be sure to keep us up to date on it!

  27. 27

    @PaulWartenberg: Very cool!

    @stinger: Yeah, that’s a good time to send it out and forget about it for a while. There are other stories to tell.

  28. 28
    opiejeanne says:

    @PaulWartenberg: Oh, I figured. I just finished watching the Seahawks beat the Raiders. It was a brutal beatdown and I’m not sure why the Raiders should be allowed to continue at this point because of the many injuries.

  29. 29
    opiejeanne says:

    @PaulWartenberg: That’s great! I want to read your book when it’s published!

  30. 30
    opiejeanne says:

    @Pogonip: LOL!, No, sorry. Mr Green did not do it and is currently dead by the 3/4s point in the story. Ollie Warren did it, and Martha was his victim.

  31. 31
    Another Scott says:

    @opiejeanne: Ollie is innocent!!11


    (via Wonkette)


  32. 32
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    @opiejeanne: I was going to surprise DH with tickets to that game but when I threw in the cost of rail travel, plus hotel, plus the tickets it turned into ridiculous amounts of money.

  33. 33
    opiejeanne says:

    @Emerald: Thanks.

    Levi Green is the father of the main character. He’s 36 when he enlists in the Union Army, and this is part of the battle at Chickasaw Bayou, below Vicksburg.

    The surgery was in a large room like a ballroom with empty cots at one end and the surgical tables at the other, with all of their saws and other tools laid out neatly on benches covered with clean linen. There were empty buckets waiting next to the tables. Men were hanging tent canvas on a wire to separate the space into two rooms. Two surgeons and two other men were playing a card game but all jumped up as several wounded were brought and the groans and screams and pleas for help filled the air.
    The first surgeon gestured. “First customer! Put him right over here boys, and you with that fellow missing part of his foot on the one next to him. You four will have to wait on the cots, over there.” He pointed to several cots pushed out of the way of the surgeons. A young soldier rushed over with water for a man who was begging for some.
    “You fellows who brought in your wounded comrades, you’re going to have to stay for a while. We may need your assistance.” Turning to his patient, “Yes, this will have to come off.”
    He cut the man’s shirt away from his body with a sharp scissors and pointed to Levi. “You there, take his shoulders and hold him still. You other two hold down his legs while I remove this. He doesn’t need it any longer and will hardly feel this.”
    And it was done, the dangling limb was removed and dropped into a bucket with a thump, but the surgeon wasn’t finished yet. Levi felt he needed a distraction and looked at the surgery taking place at the nearest table and decided his wasn’t so bad after all. The soldier holding the wounded man’s left leg fainted and fell, hitting his head against the bucket on the way down.
    “Tsk!” Said the surgeon. “Help him up, please. Our patient has been enjoying some chloroform while I was exploring the wound so we won’t need the fainter’s help now. Very painful. The bones in the lower arm are shattered up to the elbow so the arm has to come off above it. Let’s hope I can be quick enough that he stays out. Places please, gentlemen.”
    He picked up a saw from his tools and as he made the first cut the patient awakened with a scream.
    “I have to do this so that you may live. You will certainly die if I don’t, you understand? Oh WHY am I arguing with you when you’re half out of your mind with pain? Curtis! Bring the chloroform back. Should be something on the table over there.”
    The operation took only a few minutes but it felt like hours. The patient was out when the doctor began sawing through the bone, which was a mercy to all of them. Again there was the thud in the bucket of a discarded limb, followed quickly by a thud from the adjacent table which received a leg from the knee down.
    The surgeon continued to work on the patient, pulling his skin over the end of the stump and sewing it together, and bandaging it. He sent the young man with the water to bring him a phial from a cabinet that Levi noticed had a soldier standing beside it.
    He picked up a glass tube with a needle on one end of it and two finger loops on the other. “This is a syringe. You may not have seen one before and you may have a look now. This is the plunger (he indicated the finger loops. By placing the needle in a bottle of medicine, in this case a painkiller called morphine, and pulling back on the plunger like this you can see the medicine being drawn into the tube. I’ve made marks one mine so that I can measure the dosage. Now that the patient is waking up I will give him an injection thus,” he stuck the needle into the man’s arm and pushed down on the plunger. The patient protested mildly as the needle went in but it was done swiftly and he lay back with a sigh.
    “The morphine will help him with the pain, will let him rest and sleep so that he can recover properly. Unfortunately it can cause addiction so we have to keep an armed guard on our supplies.”
    Levi looked around the room and noted the blood on the floor around the surgery tables and the cots in the waiting area. One of the men on the cots had stopped moving and screaming. The young man with the water was looking him over, looked up at the surgeon and shook his head. He took a bucket with sand and spread some over the blood on the deck in the surgery area.
    “Well, it looks like all of the other fellows have skedaddled back to their units but we need the help of some big strong men. I’m commandeering you three right now and I’ll straighten it out later with Captain…?”
    “Captain Rogers.”
    “Right. I’ll sort it out with Captain Rogers later. You three move him out to the hospital cots then come back and bring me another patient while I check on that feller over there.”
    The two men who had brought in the patient with the now-missing leg were later detailed to take away the soldier who had died. The took him outside to find a place to bury him. He had been shot in the gut and there would have been no saving him.
    “I’m Doctor Cole and that’s Doctor Murphy.” Murphy grunted acknowledgment but did not look up. “I taught medicine in Baltimore. He was one of my better students.” Murphy grunted again, a wry smile on his face. “If I’d known it would be this much fun I’da signed up earlier.”
    “As you can see, Murphy has no sense of humor.”
    The next patient on Dr Cole’s table was a soldier with a gash in the side of his head. The Minie ball had carried away his ear and he needed the wound cleaned, stitched up, and bandaged. He did not complain as the work was done and his head was wrapped in bandages. He was told to go lie down for a while and they’d check on him. They did not offer him an injection of morphine.
    There had been six casualties brought in and now they were down to the last two. Cole had another with a badly damaged arm, above the elbow this time. Murphy’s table held an older man in his 50s who was crying in pain, his body curled up tight in agony and he was trying to uncurl him so he could find the injury. He gave him a little drink of water and after a minute the wounded man agreed to lie down flat on his back. The man’s pants were bloody but there was no apparent injury. Murphy cut the pants away and there was a lot of blood on the legs and abdomen of his Union suit but it was still not obvious where the injury was.
    “Were you shot? Where were you hit?” The man babbled incoherently but pointed to his crotch. The surgeon cut away the long underwear, and then he saw it.
    “Oh, God, what have they done to you?”
    The man bellowed, “They shot off my damned cock!”
    At this pronouncement Dr Cole paused and looked around as did Levi and the others. Everyone in the room looked over at the other table, and even the man on Dr Cole’s table about to lose his right arm levered himself up on his left elbow to have a look. He sank back on the table and murmured to Dr Cole, “Go ahead, doc, cut away. This is nothing to his loss.”

  34. 34

    @opiejeanne: Oh wow. That’s entertaining in a horrible kind of way!

  35. 35
    Mnemosyne says:

    I’m starting to head back home from a sort of mini-conference about an hour away from home — it was an awards luncheon and birthday celebration for the Orange County chapter of RWA, but they had write-ins on Friday night and mini workshops and more write-ins on Saturday night, so I stayed at the hotel for 2 nights.

    By a strange coincidence, the keynote speaker was Sherry Thomas, who among many other genres is the author of the “Lady Sherlock” romantic suspense series that starts with A Study in Scarlet Women. As may be implied by the name, the series posits that “Sherlock Holmes” is actually a character created by a young Victorian woman trying to solve a crime, aided and abetted by her housekeeper.

    It was also interesting to discover that despite her bland pen name, she is actually a first-generation immigrant who came here from China at age 13 and is writing in her second language when she writes in English.

    Overall, a valuable weekend, but I am REALLY tired right now.

  36. 36
    opiejeanne says:

    @Dorothy A. Winsor: Heh. Thank you. Levi’s an old man compared to his compatriots and they call him gramps. They are about the ages of his oldest stepson and he just goes along and accepts it as affection.

    Right now I’m not feeling like what I’m writing is particularly entertaining so it may end up on the scrap heap, replaced by something else. So many chunks of the story start out that way, just bones of a story until I go back and work on them or throw them out as unnecessary. I told one story in this book that was told to me when I was visiting the family who lived on my great grandfather’s farm in the Ozarks, distant, elderly cousins. It was hilarious when it was told to me but I’ll be damned if I can tell it so that it’s funny and not just a dumb Ozarks hillbilly story. It seems macabre when I write it down, but without any humor at all.

  37. 37
    Mnemosyne says:

    On the book front, I had to dump the subplot that Adam suggested a while back (sorry, Adam!) when I started thinking about the second draft. It just became too convoluted and drew attention away from the main story, but wasn’t strong enough to carry a book on its own. So, jettisoned.

    I’ve been driving myself crazy trying to figure out what the mystery is at the center of these two families, but I finally decided this weekend to stop worrying about it and just write towards the revelation of it with the character relationships I have. Hopefully the solution will reveal itself at that time.

    (Basically, I know what now-dead characters did in the past, but I don’t know why. I’m not going to worry about the “why” for the moment and just concentrate on the character relationships.)

  38. 38
    dave says:

    How do I phrase a letter to an agency for an author dead since 1975 to complete a story using names and concepts ( and a event mentioned in his novelas an aside) he used at that time

  39. 39
    J. says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: LOVE the new doctor. Am recording the series. :-)

  40. 40
    J. says:

    I love cozy mysteries — and Vicki’s books look right up my alley. (I’m a big Sherlock Holmes fan.) Thanks for letting us know about them, TaMara. I’m also a cozy mystery writer, a new one. And my books also feature a black cat on the cover. Hmm… If y’all are looking for a fun read, enjoy cozy mysteries, and/or love Sanibel Island, check out A SHELL OF A PROBLEM and SOMETHING FISHY. They’re the purr-fect way to spend a cold weekend. (I know: Ouch.)

  41. 41
    ArchTeryx says:

    Book front myself: Editing my story chapter by chapter. Part of my problem is that it’s a mystery story, which I am *not* used to writing, so pacing’s an issue. Don’t want to give away the villain too quickly, don’t want to force the reader on a Lord of the Rings style trek all across the settling to get to the answer. Plot holes that I have to fill in. That sort of thing.

    And looking for readers so that I can figure out what’s really wrong with the entire novel. (ProWritingAid takes care of proofreading and style, but can’t tell if a story is entertaining to read).

  42. 42
    Gemina13 says:

    It’s revision time for one manuscript, plotting and planning time for two others. It’s going slowly, but at least it’s going. For the last 8 years, I was scared I’d never be able to write at all. But over this last year, things are coming together in bits.

  43. 43
    wonkie says:

    I am dealing with my feelings of rage and despair by subliminating them into fantasy. These are the opening paragraphs of a novel that will be out later this fall, The WIld Hare:

    The Wild Hare

    Part One
    Chapter One: Monday Morning

    “The world is coming to an end, but my personal life is okay, I guess.”
    That was my response to Arne’s “How’re ya?” greeting. Then I pushed the oil rags and cigarette butts off the seat of his old pickup truck and climbed in. Arne is used to sour comments from me, so he just threw the truck into gear, gunned the engine and smirked: “Someone’s got a bee up his butt this morning.”
    I let a half mile of clear cut rumble past the window while I thought about my shitty mood. I guess I was in an even shittier mood than usual. The low-hanging pinkish-gray smoke in the sky was getting on my nerves in a quietly grinding way like bad music or the smell of diesel oil: the kind of irritation that puts you in a crappy mood without you noticing how you got there.
    We bounced down Highway 3, dodging potholes, while I contemplated the butchered landscape and wondered grimly if we were going to be on fire right there in Chippewa County soon. I didn’t need a weather report to know it was unusually hot for August. The whole summer had been usually hot and dry.
    Back when I was a kid, I’d enjoyed the ride to town ‘cause of the way the road wound around through a mosaic of wetlands and forest and lakes. There used to be lots of moose back then too: big, somber, stupid animals. I’d kind of admired the moose because they were so much better at parenting than my folks had ever been.
    Mostly gone now: the forest, the marshes around the lakes, the moose.
    Over the years most of the forest has either been cut down or burned and most of the larger animals have died or moved away. Some of the clear cut patches have grown back as stands of skinny pines and firs packed together like toothpicks in a box: not a real forest because the animals can’t live in it. Not even a memory of a real forest. The ugly fake forest outside the truck windows pissed me off as much as the smoke. Every fucking thing was reminding me how fucked we all were. Then Arne said, “What’s the point of being a fucking fairy if you can’t just wave a magic wand and get shit done?”
    Yeah, I’m a fairy. No, not that kind. I’m half-human, half-forest spirit from the wild hare clan. There used to be lots of us, but most of the full fairies have either died or moved away with the demise of the forest.

  44. 44
    satby says:

    @stinger: I can say I’ve enjoyed several of Vicki’s books, especially the Molly Smith series. I love all kinds of mystery genres, and just considering writing one is beyond my imagination. So kudos to all of you who do for my and others’ entertainment.

  45. 45
    WaterGirl says:

    @wonkie: I would read that book in a heartbeat!

  46. 46

    Excerpts from one of the essays about Mumbai I have written so far:

    Oh city of dreams, I have missed you. I am far away from your bosom your warm and humid embrace. Contrary to what people say I have never found you difficult to love. No matter where I live you will always be my first love.

    Kipling says its better than I could:
    Mother of Cities to me,
    For I was born in her gate,
    Between the palms and the sea,
    Where the world-end steamers wait.

    You have always been a part of me more than any other place l have lived. When I yearn for home I yearn for you. Your busy crowded streets, your salty sea breezes. Of course, I never realized how special you were when I was with you. I took you for granted. Only after I left for distant shores did I truly appreciate your worth, Bambai meri jaan.
    How do I love thee, let me count the ways
    Traveling around your roads, lanes and bylanes
    Watching the sun set across the brackish waters of the Arabian Sea
    While the rain clouds gathered on the horizon near Malabar Hill
    Watching the waves crash on the rocks near the Mahalakshmi Temple
    I traveled your byways and alleyways in the bright red BEST Buses or in the dull red and yellow local trains.
    Or on foot or in the back of the ubiquitous black and yellow cabs.
    I never ran out of places to go or things to do, when I was with you.
    Through the heat and dust and the pouring rain.
    Even when I didn’t venture out
    I could watch the world go by as I stood at my window.

    Much has been written about you and there have been innumerable movies about you. Unfortunately, most of them seem to focus on mafia dons and slums. There is more to you than Dharavi and Dawood Ibrahim and his D-Company. In some of the movies about you I don’t even recognize anything familiar, the multiple Oscar winning Slum Dog Millionaire, might as well have been set on Mars.


    When you were attacked in 2008 it felt personal. Even though I was at the other end of the world comfortably sitting in my living room in Greenbelt MD. The mayhem that night struck close to home because many of the scenes of carnage on that fateful evening, Metro Cinema, CST (previously Victoria Terminus), Colaba were less than half an hour from where I grew up. Those were my stomping grounds. That horrific tragedy brought back the memories of the dark days of the early nineties following the demolition Babri Masjid or Babar’s mosque. It was not September 11 but those fateful days in late 91 and early 92 that made me question everything about humanity.

    Until the early 90s like most Mumbaikars I had wrongly assumed that we were immune to communal poison that infects the rest of India. For me those riots that followed the demolition of the Babri Masjid in late 92 and the bomb blasts that followed in the March of the next year, shook my worldview and made me realize just how ugly things could get. The depravity of human beings towards each other has seldom surprised me after that.

    Yet for me your story is not about despair but about the triumph of human spirit, not about fragility of human life but about resilience, about going on matter what, no matter how bleak the circumstances, about trusting your fellow human beings and not giving in to despair, not about what divides us as human beings but about what we share in common. No city in India is as diverse as Mumbai. Mostly, people get along, or at least try to. Yes, there are demagogues and there is ugly politics but I speak of the ordinary denizens of Bombay, the average Mumbaikar.

    You are a beacon of hope. Where it doesn’t matter where you come from, what language you speak, Mumbai will give you a chance. Not for nothing is Mumbai India’s financial capital and entertainment capital. Like NYC and LA rolled into one teeming city.
    You don’t always live up to those lofty expectations. Your politics can be ugly and not all those movies and books about your violent underworld are fictional.
    Your story is the story of India and the story of humanity in a nutshell. Your history may not be long by Indian standards but a lot has happened in your relatively short existence of 400 or so years.

  47. 47
    opiejeanne says:

    @Mnemosyne: You’re going to let your characters just duke it out until they tell you the story? I’ve had just a tiny bit of this happening, and just like your aunt that suddenly appeared in a story you were working on, I had an important character just show up. Not anyone I’d planned, she’d never entered my mind until that moment when suddenly she was there and felt right, a person to teach the two girls about some things they weren’t going to get in school but were going to need.

  48. 48
    debbie says:

    I’m writing about my mother. She refused to share much about her childhood (other than her father walking her to the store for an ice cream cone during the Depression) because she hated looking back to a happier time (my father died very early and very painfully, as did both of her parents). After working on the family tree and going through a bunch of old photographs left to me, I took it upon myself to reconstruct her life and maybe come to a better understanding of my mother as well as our (troubling) relationship.

    The story loops and circles back and is anything but linear and chronological. Does anyone have any thoughts as to whether this organic (for lack of a better word) organization would be a bad idea? It just sort of happened on its own. Should I wrestle it into a more normal narrative?

  49. 49
    opiejeanne says:

    @wonkie: And I want to read your book, too. Let us know when it’s out, please

  50. 50
    ellie says:

    I am taking a screenwriting class and am enjoying it a lot. I have always wanted to write for the movies and television and I am not getting any younger!

  51. 51
    WaterGirl says:

    @debbie: I have no advice other than to say that it totally works on This Is Us.

  52. 52
    ellie says:

    @Mnemosyne: I love her books and am looking forward to reading her next one!

  53. 53
    tokyocali (formerly tokyo expat) says:

    Not sure if this thread is dead…but had to say I love cozies. I’m a sucker for a new cozy series. I used to read more thrillers and police procedurals in the past. Nowadays, I want the light atmosphere of a cozy mystery for my reading pleasure. They’re great stress relief at the end of a crazy day, which with all the political news is even crazier lately.

    Another thing about cozies is that they often revolve around some kind of theme, et. knitting, baking, teahouse, bookstore, house contractor. Some of the Hallmark mystery channel series are adaptations of best-selling mysteries.

    On the writing front, I’ve just submitted info for the covers of my next two romantic suspense stories. We’ll see what the cover artist comes up with. Also, for anyone interested in writing romance or with romantic elements, Carina Press has an open call until Dec. 3rd if you want to check it out.

  54. 54
    Miss Bianca says:

    @opiejeanne: Wow, sounds very cool, and the themes oddly timely! On the other hand, is there any part of American history that doesn’t include massive land fraud schemes, theft of labor, and racial oppression?

  55. 55
    Miss Bianca says:

    @PaulWartenberg: that sounds like fun! Creepy fin, but fun. Of course, I can’t think about a girl ghost in a bathroom without thinking of JK Rowling’s Moaning Myrtle, so I’m imagining a slightly more grown-up but more waifish Myrtle.

  56. 56
    Miss Bianca says:

    @opiejeanne: cool, if grim, excerpt. *very* cool!

    Pretty sure this is a dead thread, but here goes anyway:

    btw, I just happened on something that I started writing last October, and it was directly inspired by some story that I’m pretty sure *you* shared with us here last year. this is the first few paragraphs of something I decided is going to be called “The Phantom Huntsman” if I ever actually finish it. And if I ever do, I will dedicate it to you. ; )

    Chapter 1: For Tonight Is Hallowe’en

    I saw something last night, I tell you. And, not for the first time, I either have to wonder if I’m crazy, or perhaps just admit that I am. Or-

    Or what? I mean, either it was there, and these things are real, and therefore the foundations of rationality and evidence that I’ve built on, counted on, to explain the nature of reality, are inadequate to the full weight of the world – or I am crazy and imagining the whole thing. But I’m going to go ahead and say it, and let the metaphorical chips fall where they may:

    I think I just saw a goddamned ghost.

    Let me make a few things clear. Yes, it was Halloween. A suggestable time of year, particularly if you’ve been drinking, or drugging in some other manner – and no, I hadn’t. And not since I was a kid have I ever believed in ghosts, or ever, even when I did believe, believe that I had seen one.

    I live in a cabin in the woods, with my father, but I was by myself when it happened – unless you count Bonnie and Clyde, which I would, even if some wouldn’t. It’s not like we’re particularly isolated – we have neighbors on both sides, and we’re only a few hundred yards or so off the main road to town. Nobody’s died here that I know of – it’s a pretty new cabin, even if it is built on the foundations of an old one that’s been here for a long time.

    So it’s not one of those cabins, you know, like in the movies. This isn’t going to be one of those ‘cabin in the woods’ stories.

    I think. I hope.

  57. 57
    opiejeanne says:

    @Miss Bianca: The current corrupt and racist, violent environment has driven me to work on this book, partially because I can escape into the familiar landscape of the Ozarks (never lived there but have visited quite a bit) but in a different century, and partially because I am going to kill a bunch of Confederates. Even though I’ve already killed quite a few and captured hundreds more I’m going to kill some more. The ending is going to be a little shocking, mostly straight from a diary written by Levi’s oldest stepson and several other people in the area at the time; their stories match.

  58. 58
    opiejeanne says:

    @Miss Bianca: Good start. I’d like to see more. And thank you for the kind words. The whole book isn’t that grim, some of it is (I hope) amusing, but that hospital scene had to be written as I got deeper into the research on the Chickasaw Bayou offensive. I had to give Levi something to do, I had to show what his experience was like and I had to invent that experience from diaries and books that described what it was like. This scene is from the description of the first attempt to take Vicksburg, and it failed. Ken Burns doesn’t even mention it but a lot of people died. Levi was wounded and sent back up the Mississippi to St Louis with the rest of the wounded.

    If something I wrote inspired that it would be because I wrote about our tiny old cabin in the mountains in SoCal. I don’t think I’ve written about ghosts.

  59. 59
    Miss Bianca says:

    @opiejeanne: Heh. Killing Confederates…“in my mind”. Nice inspiration!

    I think Patrick O’Brian, my god when it comes to writing historical fiction, would be pleased with you. His Stephen Maturin, naval surgeon extraordinaire, (in)famously longs to “feel the grate of bone under his saw again” at one point during our introduction to him.

    The story I’m writing seems to be a variation on Tam Lin, with an older version of Janet and Tom/Tam – not teenagers, in other words. Not sure where it’s going, but I think I may cheat for NaNoWriMo this year and finish this one instead of starting *yet another*! I really like Joyce H’s suggestion of writing 15 minutes a day – I’ve been really struggling with feeling too crappy about real life to be able to escape into writing fiction.

  60. 60

    @Miss Bianca:

    Oh, it’s not a Rowling-inspired story.

    More like Tom Petty.

    The dorm is Beaty Towers. There’s a reason she’s a ghost girl (expect, well, SPOILERS, she’s not even a ghost…)

  61. 61
    opiejeanne says:

    @Miss Bianca: whoa! That’s a massive compliment, Patrick O’Brien indeed!

    Someone on BJ mentioned the Carrington Event in September or October last year and that weird result of massive sun flares became the second chapter and inspired the third which led logically to another event
    That I was planning to include. The first few chapters define the community and the family, how people lived and how some of the slaves live within the community.

    NaNoWriMo forced some discipline on my writing ethic, forced me to produce. I might do it again this November just to get over the last hump to the ending. I need to cover two years very rapidly to get there. I was worried that I had created a cast of thousands but most of those introduced in the beginning are going to show up in the ending.

  62. 62
    opiejeanne says:

    @Miss Bianca: are Bonnie and Clyde a dog and cat?

  63. 63
    opiejeanne says:

    @Miss Bianca: oh wait! My husband jogged my memory. I saw ghosts last year. They turned out to be odd reflections in my glasses. I can’t remember what made it happen but we did figure it out.

  64. 64
    Miss Bianca says:

    @opiejeanne: Good guess! Two kittens, sister and brother.

    ETA: (and oh, how I love to have the edit function again!) Yes, that was the story – oh, my, reflections on your glasses!

  65. 65
    Tehanu says:

    @Dorothy A. Winsor: I commented in another thread, very O.T., that I really enjoyed The Wind Reader, and I’m delighted to hear you’re working on a sequel. It’s been a long time since I read any YA fantasy — I’m sick & tired of Hunger Games knockoffs — but recently got back in by reading Ursula LeGuin’s wonderful trilogy Gifts, Voices, and Powers, and your book was a welcome follow-up. Looking forward to more on Dilly!

  66. 66
    Matt McIrvin says:

    The characters live in an essentially good world that needs to be put back to rights.

    I worry about writing things like this because I fear that they might convince people that somehow the real world is like this, that the world is basically just and will become good if we only put away a few bad eggs. I think this idea is at the root of a lot of moral and political evil, and I wouldn’t want to promote it.

    But there are also plenty of people who know from rich experience that the world isn’t like this, are suffering from it and need a little escape from that for a while. Is it bad to give it to them?

    I feel a bit conflicted.

  67. 67
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    Different people want and need different things from fiction. Both my best friend and my mother died before I was 8 years old, and that was only the start. No asshole author needs to tell me that life is random and unfair and people die or are injured in life-altering ways — I already know that, thanks. I figured that out before I reached double digits in age. People who have lived charmed and sheltered lives where nothing bad ever happened to them or their lives ones may need those books to see how bad life can get, but I really don’t.

    Obviously, YMMV.

  68. 68
    opiejeanne says:

    @Mnemosyne: Your best friend as well as your mom died before you were eight? I knew about your mom and that alone would be devastating and I always feel for you when it comes up. No, I think you’ve got a handle on how unfair and unpredictable life is.

    I wanted to say that your retreat sounded like a lot of fun when you described it before it began, but now it sounds like it was a little overwhelming. I keep thinking I’d like to go to one but then I wonder if I’d be able to handle a whole weekend.

  69. 69

    @TaMara (HFG): Thank you, Tamara. Hope things turn around soon.

  70. 70

    @opiejeanne: Hi, I’m the author. You ask about the tea cups. I actually saw one in a store and thought…. basically you take miniature tea cups and tie them together by looping string or threat through the handles to make a chain. The chain is supposed to be hung on the wall.

  71. 71
  72. 72

    @Matt McIrvin: Hey Matt. I hear what you are saying, but I have to tell you that a lot of people tell me they read cozies as as escape from the real world. When they can’t face the news, the turn to a light book. They know what’s happening out there. BTW, as an aside a lot of my US cozy writing friends (I’m Canadian) are very involved in anti-Trump politics.

  73. 73
  74. 74

    @ellie: Thanks! I appreciate that very much.

  75. 75

    @debbie: I can’t think of anything off hand, but that sort of looping narrative (I love that description) isn’t unusual, Check out some of the modern-gothic novels so popular these days by Kate Morton or Carol Goodman to see how they do it. I, as a reader, LOVE IT.

  76. 76
  77. 77

    @Dorothy A. Winsor: Not tricky at all! I’m not using Sherlock Holmes in any way but as the character in books and items for sale. All the books I mention in the series exist in the real world, and I can’t imagine any author suing me for naming their book! The character of Gemma Doyle is the Sherlock Holmes character, meaning she had his sort of mind, but she isn’t ever called Sherlock Holmes. I have mentioned people buying Basic Rathbone DVDs, but that’s all. So we have no worries of any sort.

  78. 78

    Sorry I’m so late to arrive. It’s Monday morning, and I didn’t realize this went up yesterday

  79. 79

    I am envious of Vicki, with her ability to write delightful cozy mysteries. I love brilliant characters and the Sherlock Holmes style of investigation.

    To answer the “What are you writing these days?” question, I’m working on Spark Transform, the (long delayed) book 5 in my space opera series. I get periodic wistful inquiries from my patient readers. I’m about 25% done, with the messy middle looming on the horizon, where none of the characters want to talk to each other or go where they should. I might have to blow up a planet to get their attention.

    Last week, a science fiction romance anthology launched with one of my stories in it. The anthology supports a charity (Hero Dogs), so I hope we’ve made enough sales to send a decent donation. This week, the fourth book in my paranormal romance series releases. At the end of this month, Tantor Media is releasing the audiobook version of book 2 in my space opera series.

    I might actually take a vacation-vacation around Christmas, instead of using all my time off from the day job to pretend I’m a full-time author.

  80. 80
    Pa says:

    @Vicki Delany: I missed this over the weekend. I just recently discovered your bookshop/Mrs. Hudson Tea Room series and enjoyed it! Looking forward to your new one!

    I enjoy cozies, especially now. I don’t need to double-down on misery right now – current events are bad enough.

    Thank you for your discussion and comments!

Comments are closed.