Friday, January 30, 2009

The Art of Procrastination

Here we are at the second to last day of the month and I'm starting a "to do" item from the first week of this same month.  Doesn't that sound a little like procrastination or is it really zen and letting things happen in their own time?  No, it's putting it off and putting it off and putting it off - you get the idea. 

It's not that I dislike writing (some writers actually do - finding it quite painful in fact).  It's just that getting started.  It's that first line.  Once upon a time in the old west a man lost his horse or a horse lost his man?  After the first line it starts to flow and I quite enjoy the process of writing. But then I stop.  It might be for food or for sleep or simply because it's been a long enough session. Then, there I am again looking for the starting line.  Sometimes as a kick start, I'll begin in the middle of the piece. And that is what I need to do today.

I'm working on my second novel, Memory of Murder, and have gotten into a bit of a procrastination rut looking for the first line of the next chapter.   There's been one death so far so maybe I'll skip ahead to the second one - you know there's going to be a second one.

There is an art to being a truly great procrastinator.   It doesn't go real well with the art of writing.  After all, as I remember reading years ago: a writer is only a writer when he writes.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Mortician

Comedy and Mystery writing have at least two things in common. One is to 'expect the unexpected' AND it still has to make sense. The second is 'know your character' and then reveal that character by their actions. For example:

A man who just died is delivered to a local mortuary wearing an expensive, expertly tailored black suit..

The mortician asks the deceased's wife how she would like the body dressed and points out that the man does look good in the black suit he is already wearing.

The widow, however, says that she always thought her husband looked his best in blue, and that she wants him in a blue suit. She gives the mortician a blank check and says, 'I don't care what it costs, but please have my husband in a blue suit for the viewing.'

The woman returns the next day for the wake. To her delight, she finds her husband dressed in a gorgeous blue suit with a subtle chalk stripe; the suit fits him perfectly .

She says to the mortician, 'Whatever this cost, I'm very satisfied. You did an excellent job and I'm very grateful. How much did you spend?' To her astonishment, the mortician presents her with the blank check.

'There's no charge.'

'No, really, I must compensate you for the cost of that exquisite blue suit!' she says.

'Honestly, ma'am,' the mortician says, 'it cost nothing. You see, a deceased gentleman of about your husband's size was brought in shortly after you left yesterday, and he was wearing an attractive blue suit. I asked his wife if she minded him going to his grave wearing a black suit instead, and she said it made no difference as long as he looked nice.' . . . . . . . . . . . . . ' So I just switched the heads.'

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Support Your Local Bookstore - Part II

This weekend I will get a chance to hang with some of my favorite authors, and for a good cause. It all started back in October when I received this touching e-mail from JB Stanley:

I have been writing as many authors as I can in hopes of soliciting help for a beloved Richmond independent book store. I'm sure many of you know Leila Taylor, the kind-hearted proprietor of Creatures 'n Crooks . Hundreds of authors love her as she has hand-sold many of our titles. I had a signing there recently and she began to cry, saying that she may have to close the store. I was very upset on her behalf!

She asked if I could think of an event that might bring folks into the store and help her pay the rent. I am planning to host a benefit for her the afternoon of Saturday, January 31st and was wondering if you could attend. It'll be called Books and Bling: A Benefit and will kick off a week-long raffle in which customers spending $25 or more will earn a raffle ticket to win, well, books and bling. The authors attending as of this date are Katherine Neville, Donna Andrews, Ellen Crosby, Maria Lima, Ellen Byerrum, and myself. If you're unavailable, would you consider sending me a signed book to put in the huge signed book raffle prize basket I'm gathering?

Well, authors responded en mass and the week-long raffle stretched to the full month of January (so there’s still time to purchase and win.) This Saturday, from 1 pm to 4 pm we’ll be at Creatures ‘n Crooks in Richmond, VA. For you, it’s a chance to mingle with authors, have a sweet snack and win some cool swag. And every time you buy a book you’re supporting a wonderful genre-oriented bookstore.

More than 100 authors from all over the USA contributed prizes to be given away. Don’t live near Richmond? No excuse! Phone orders count too.

In addition to signed books from mystery, fantasy, horror and even nonfiction authors, the prize list grew to include a vampire basket from Charlaine Harris, a character donation from Margaret Maron , gold and sapphire earrings from Denise Swanson, a Carolyn Hart basket, a culinary basket from Joanne Fluke, a fantasy book crate with signed books by George R.R. Martin and a historical mystery book prize including a vintage Tiffany necklace.The list of authors planning to attend has exploded too. In addition to the aforementioned names, we’ll see Andy Straka, Joseph Guion , John Gilstrap, Maggie Stiefvater, Kristy Tallman, Dennis Danvers, Elizabeth Blue, Tee Morris, and probably a few latecomers I don’t know about yet. Best for me will be getting to shake and J.B Stanley’s hand. Sometimes I’m proud of a writer for more than her mystery plots.

Those of us who will be at the Creatures ‘n Crooks bookstore, 3156 West Cary Street, Richmond VA on Saturday from 1 pm to 4 pm are all grateful for a chance to support a store that has supported us and our peers. And if you want to make the scene, this is the literary place to be.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


There is really only one motive for murder which underlies all other apparent motives.


From this root numerous off shots can grow. For the sake of getting a grip on the mystery we will divide the motive down into three situations even though they all apply, in greater or lesser degrees, to any crime. The three basic motives for murder that we will use are:

Passion, Power and Revenge

The motive is stabilized within the


Desire, Opposition, Conflict, Conflict Resolution.

The Desire, Opposition and Conflict are what makes up the MOTIVE for the crime.

The Resolution is the crime


There are three basic kinds of conflict:

1. Man Against Man

2. Man Against Nature (or Conditions)

3. Man Against Himself.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Job

A big snowstorm is coming and as part of my job I am sitting in the emergency control center in case I'm needed to coordinate things with my respective department. So far, the storm has been a big bust and I'm sitting here mostly bored. But in a crackle of static we learn that a woman has been hit by a train and everyone moves into action, notifying emergency agencies like police, ambulance, and even the M.E. It would be surreal if I hadn't been here so many times before. In my city, death by subway is one of the preferred methods of suicide, and sometimes even murder. So I'm here... it's my job.

Meet More Authors On Line

The coolest thing I did last week was to get interviewed by a web site. Whohub is a directory of interviews with professionals in a variety of fields: communication, arts, technology, marketing, and other activities that require a creative flair. The site, through some sort of artificial intelligence I imagine, e-mailed me and asked me to participate as an author. I was directed to a web page on which I responded to question in an interview that was surprisingly relevant to my field and personality.

I enjoyed the virtual interview, and I hope lots of people will take a look at it to learn more about how I think. Members of this little community can exchange messages and questions too. If you're a literary or artistic type you might want to join yourself. And if you'd like to meet more writers and learn what they're really thinking, you should check out Whohub.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Write a caption, Win a book

A great book blog - Bold. Blue. Adventure. - is having a book giveaway and Janeology is one of the books in the line-up.

Here's the complete list of books she's giving away:

Mercy Street by Mariah Stewart
Breakout by Paul Fleischman
Down to a Sunless Sea by Matthias B. Freese
The Free Lunch by Spider Robinson
Maid Marian by Elsa Watson
Janeology by Karen Harrington
Little Altars Everywhere by Rebecca Wells
Vampyres of Hollywood by Adrienne Barbeau & Michael Scott
Abhorsen by Garth Nix
Bikini Season by Sheila Roberts
Fifteen Minutes of Shame by Lisa Daily
Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult

Click here to visit her blog, write your caption to her feautured photo and be entered to win. Good luck!
Visit my blog
Read an excerpt of Janeology -