Saturday, October 31, 2009

Writing Show Thrills

Or as somebody said ‘penguin porn?’

For the last Writing Show this year, JRW pulled out an autumnal homage to the celebration of Poe. (No, I don’t think he had anything to do with penguins or penguin porn.) Okay, so not really about Poe, more of a sort-of-nod to the thought that some think Poe created the beginnings of modern mysteries. But it was about writing modern mysteries. So close enough. (yeah, you’re just waiting for that first part now aren’t you?)

JRWs own Board Member and Secretary Emyl Jenkins moderated. She of antique sleuthing mystery fame, with two great books under her belt now, had spent the early part of the day speaking in Williamsburg to an appreciative crowd and then another two hours signing her latest book, The Big Steal, for them! Luckily she has stamina and was able to hold the microphone and bring out a fun informative ending to this last Writing show of 2009. [Be sure to keep an eye on the JRW site, for the new Writing Shows in 2010.]

The night of mystery included some new faces to JRW, or at least to me and some. Meredith Cole and Andy Straka were both fun and funny. As well as Donna Andrews, not a new face to JRW, having just been at the recent JRW Conference, as well as the first one, but she’s certainly smart and willing to share her knowledge to other writers.

The discussion ranged from the different sub-genres that comprise the mystery writing field today to the latest fads and how to avoid following them. And to not consider self-publishing with a mystery genre book unless you are willing to spend quite the amount of money to make it a success. And even then to reconsider.

The ooh factor of the evening came from Andy bringing out his wonderful hawk. Yep, real live, and gorgeous. Nope I am not even going to tell you the hawk’s name. I will tell you it’s a Harrier Hawk. And let you conjecture from there. (and yes, I know you’re still waiting. No, I don’t think the hawk had anything to do with the penguins. Although Andy did joke that he and Donna had both taken P.I. courses and had discussed opening an agency called Flamingos and Hawk. Get their books and you'll get it.)

The gross of the evening was the question from audience member about said hawk’s diet when Andy couldn’t take it out hunting. Yes, he takes it out to do its own hunting for food. Normally. Luckily he’d already fed it. At least it didn’t seem to be all that interested in a room full of staring oohing writers. And we didn’t have to have the rest of the gory details. Blechhhh. I’ll just say Emyl mentioned to Andy she had an old microwave in her basement if he wanted to truck it back with him.

There was quite a bit of laughter during the evening, quite a funny panel for it to be so filled with the dastardly thoughts of mystery writing and doing away with people and the ways and means of making that all plausible. Does any other writing genre – other than horror maybe? – have people looking at them a bit strangely and then begin edging slowly away?

Although the most laughter came when Donna gave a requested reading – of a penguin sex scene. Donna Andrews is noted for her humorous mysteries. She has actually written two different mystery series but has the most books [10? 11, now?] in her very popular Meg Langslow mysteries. For those that haven’t read them, you should. They are funny. And when Emyl turned to Donna and asked her to read the penguin sex scene she had written (and said she’d actually witnessed!) in one of her books, well, let’s just say things must have gotten really quiet because Emyl turned back around and said, “you all’s eyes are just bugging” …and of course it was said as only Southern-lady Emyl would say it. [yeah, see what all you missed by not coming!]

You can read it yourself in Donna’s book, The Penguin Who Knew Too Much

And it is one of my favorite books of Donna’s. So far anyway. Certainly has one of my favorite first paragraphs! You’ll just have to go buy it and see for yourself.

Won’t be the same as having Donna read it, with Emyl prodding, but that’s what you get for not getting out and joining the rest of us for the great evening.

Makes you remember favorite writers like Emyl Jenkins and Donna Andrews, and meet new ones you want to read now like Meredith Cole and Andy Straka.

And maybe have your own harrier hawk someday or write a penguin sex scene of your own, and make it as funny as Donna’s. Oh, come on, I Know you want to! And NaNoWriMo is just around the corner you know! So you can!

But if you aren’t interested in writing one at least pick up the great books by the above mentioned authors from your local independent bookstore, in this case, from cool Kelly Justice of Fountain Bookstore fame. Then come and tell us all what you got from her.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cool Weather Cometh

The cool has slipped its fingers between the rays of sun

While we were sleeping the buttons came undone

One day it was summer’s roasting hot

The next the cool came in and it’s not

How to weather this time of year

Between the heat of summer and winter coming near

It crept in on shadowed winds

Pushing aside the rays of warmth

Coming in amidst the night

Far from the eyes of human sight

But even in their night time sleep

They begin to feel its touch

With tossing and turnings awakened

They knew not why

Only that night’s routine had passed them by

(sgchris Sept. 2009)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Name, A Name

Well, several names. Those pesky characters. I Know! Do they Never rest? I’ve been out of their world looking for names for them. They supposedly can’t go around for the rest of the book being Character 14, Char. 15, etc…. Okay, so I wasn’t that bad. But some did have just ‘friends’ label attached. Or question mark. That doesn’t exactly keep readers going straight in a story, does it?

So where do you get your character’s names?

Seems from the digging around I’ve done people have their own little ways to name their characters. Interesting ways and places to get names.

So what are yours?

And if you are just a reader, what suggestions would you have? Uhm, other than your own name. Or someone you know. Or hate. Even if you do really want to see them dismembered in print. Remember I haven’t actually said I was doing that to a character. Exactly anyway. But you’ll have to stay tuned and read my books to find out now won’t you? Heh, heh, heh.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What’s in a Name?

Writer, character-maim-er….. could be worse, if the characters don’t start acting right and behaving themselves. All this running amok while I’m trying to take care of other things. Maybe amok looks different in your world but in character world….well, let me tell you, it’s not a pretty thing.

No sir-ree, makes you start thinking of changing your name from writer to character maim-er, or worse. I think I might have some characters scared. Maybe. A little. Okay, so they don’t seem too scared yet. But just wait……

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wanted: Missing In Action

This is an urgent bulletin sent out to find missing writer by her toe-tapping impatient characters, part of a long line of such characters not so patiently waiting for said writer to stop her other time stealing endeavors and come back to her chair to honor them with her devotion to them.

Uhm, yeah. That’s rather how I feel today. Trying to get things done with characters breathing down my neck. Like that’s going to help me get to their books quicker. Okay, so it might.

I better run, need to break up the fight ensuing on the waiting line here, messing up plot lines, mixing up book ideas. Bashing characters I haven’t even manage to name yet let alone really assign a face to, and it’s already getting bloodied. I mean, Really! Hey, you! Get back over there in that other story where you belong!

I’m not writing Missing writer, characters go wild. Hey……

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Berry Good

Okay so it should be Very good not Berry good but I just couldn't resist the title. ;)

Had a chance to hear Katherine Neville's interview of Steve Berry yesterday, and it was Terrific!
Thank you Library of Virginia!

Both authors are terrific in their own right - Katherine was at the recent James River Writers Conference and Steve Berry was at a James River Writers Writing Show several years ago.

Both writers are incredibly sharing of their writing experiences and advice, as well as being talented and successful writers.

This household has been big fans of Steve's from way back. We are working on a collection of all of his books. Somehow my husband manages to get them as I bring them home and sort of keeps them for himself. ;) So I think I've actually only managed to read a couple of them so far - I snatched them....uh, hid, I mean I just managed to somehow have time to read them first. ;)

But even though my husband has been a fan of Steve's books for quite some time, yesterday was the first time he's been able to meet him. And he was Impressed!
And my husband is not all that easily impressed. Believe me, I know. ;)

Steve also was able to articulate thoughts about writing that really applied to my writing style that I'd not thought of in quite the same words.
And really helped my husband to understand my writing life, and frustrations, better I think.

And Steve's wife Elizabeth is not only lovely to look at but she is also as helpful to newbie writers as Steve is.
She had some wonderful things to share as my husband and I talked with her.
Not to mention some recent pictures of Steve and his friend and best selling author James Rollins [another favorite author of my husband] in chainmail armor whacking each other. Thanks Elizabeth! ;)

So if you get a chance to hear Steve Berry talk do Not miss the opportunity! Nor pass up the opportunity to talk with his lovely wife.

Believe me, the time will pass Much too quickly!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Life Calls?

Life calls?

The wind is whispering today

Brushing my ear lightly while softly caressing my hair

With sweet endearing?

Soft entreats?

To come


To go

Where I do not know

And I don’t have time to listen

I am called to regular life

And duty

To things that fill our days

Instead of whispering touches upon the ear.

That tell us we are more than what fills our days.

(sgchris Oct. 2009)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Come hear my Ballad

Well, not mine actually, since I don’t sing or play music. I’m thinking of a couple of things about Ballads recently.

One of the things that seems to be cropping up is the use of music to inspire writers in their writing. Do you use music to help you work? And how do you choose it?

Maggie Stiefvater talks about her playlists quite a bit on her blog – and how she uses music as she works at her writing. She even picks out her music beforehand. And seems to spend a bit of time and quite a bit of thought doing so, to find just the right feeling of music.

Amazing. I’m not sure what kind of mish-mash of music I’d come up with if I did that. I’m sure that when I get back to the book I have partially written that’s set in Ireland that I’ll be listening to a lot of Celtic music. And will probably be combing Maggie’s playlists to find ones that seem to fit with the mood I want to create.

But normally I don’t listen to a lot of music. Probably because the story I’ve been working on for so long was such a jumbled mess for so long. The music I tried to listen to – hey seems to work for Maggie and can’t argue with her success now can we! ---but the music I tried to listen to that would, you would think anyway, move the story along just really got on my nerves. And let me tell you that didn’t help me with the story writing all that much!

Course Maggie does Everything well! Not that I begrudge her, Lord a-mercy, she sure seems to work hard enough for it! She is a Very accomplished artist, as well as musician, and now accomplished New York Times bestselling author! With books from Two separate publishing companies out at same time for criminy sakes!

Her first book with Scholastic just came out August 1st – Debuting at #9 on the NYTimes list!

Her second book with Flux Publishing – her third book published in less than a year!!! – called ‘Ballad’ has just been released October 1st. And the publisher is already having to call for another printing to stock all the bookstores!

Her book ‘Ballad’ is having its launch here in Richmond this Thursday, October 8th, at Fountain Books.

And if you pre-order/reserve a copy, Maggie’s sweetening the deal with some of her signed artwork – you can check it out here on her website –

And while you’re there on her site, check out her trailer she did for ‘Ballad’ – it’s right there, just hit play! Yep, showing all her talents - drawing, music, writing. And yep, if she wasn’t so darn nice and generous with her advice she gives on her blog and website for All aspiring writers, she’d be a lot easier to grumble about. But I can’t. Cause she gives Very helpful advice. Check out her blog and see for yourself. And come back here and mention it to me – in case I’ve gotten swamped again with all the things trying to take over my life, and I missed it!!

And come tell me about your Ballad. Maggie’s ‘Ballad’ is terrific! I will warn you, once you start you won’t want to put it down! It’s not ‘Shiver’ so doesn’t have wolves in it, but I did find myself growling at my husband when he was interrupting my reading of ‘Ballad!’ [and luckily I don’t play bagpipes or instruments like James or Dee, since I probably would have been way too tempted to bash him with them. Only Slightly! Only slightly! He is my husband after all. :::love you sweetheart ;) :::]

So when you get your Ballads, come back here and tell me about them. Whether music you’ve discovered, or writing. And especially come back and tell me of any writing helps and hints. I Really want to get this book I’m working on done so I can go on/back to the other stories I have languishing in wait.

Okay so Talk! To me! ;) Tell me all about your Ballads, sung and unsung.

Everybody has them. Don’t they?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Writing Group Views

It’s amazing how many writers there are in Virginia. Even just in Richmond and the surrounding areas. And we all have different voices and different views on how to write, and different writing styles. Yet we all are writers. Not all of us are published yet but that’s not what defines a writer. Or shouldn’t be.

Even on the JRW Writing Show, the one recently about Writing Groups. Is interesting seeing the different views on having or being in a writing group. Interesting just seeing the different things people took away from the evening. As shown by this sampling of different writings on and about the Writing Show

So, what are your views on a Writing Group?

Are you in one now? Looking for one?

Did you come to the Writing Show? What did you take away from it?