Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Weather and Murder

Weather has really been in the news lately. Blizzards in a lot of the country and here where I live, it keeps raining and raining.

When you hear about people being trapped on a train for hours with no heat or food (and they didn't mention it, but what about toilet facilities?)you can bet murder was on the minds of a few. Once I was on a train that hit a car, fatal to the driver, and did damage to the train. We were stuck for several hours though we did have food, lights and the weather was fine, and they generously gave out free drinks. The only drawback was the toilets didn't work. I chose not to drink anything.

Here the rain is causing havoc. We have a river that runs behind our house and it is raging. We're up high enough not to worry, but there are plenty who are having to use sandbags to keep water out of their house. Ponds are overflowing causing more problems.

Approaches to the bridges are being closed because water and debris are coming over the top of the bridges, stranding some people in their homes.

All of these conditions are great possibilities to include in mysteries.

How are you faring in this unusual weather? Are you contemplating using any of it in a mystery?


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Be careful or you'll end up in my novel.

So proclaims a sweatshirt I got for Christmas last year.
I also have a mug that says, "I kill my enemies in my books. You're on page 12."
You think I'm kidding.

I always joke with people that if they make me mad, they will die a horrible death in one of my books.
Heh, heh.
Well, sort of.
The person would never recognize themselves. I'm smarter than that.
It is very cathartic.
Plus what goes around comes around, but you don't always get to see someone's comeuppance.
So that second grade teacher who told me lions weren't purple? Dealt with.
And many others.
What does it mean?
I don't have to hold grudges.
They are gone. They don't weigh me down and I can concentrate on the more positive people in my life.
So my next question.

Who wants to be next?
Merry Christmas.

Chris Redding's latest book, Incendiary, is out in electronic format this past week. It will be out in print in the Spring.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Planning a New Mystery

I just finished a Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel, as yet unnamed, and I am working on the editing which includes reading a chapter at a time to my critique group.

Mundania Press just sent me a contract for the next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery which will come out during the fall of 2011 which I do have a title for,Bears With Us.

This means it's time for me to write a new Tempe. I do have some ideas floating around though I haven't written anything down yet, so that's next. I need to come up with someone to kill (see, criminal minds at work), who would want that person dead--and preferably, more than one person with a good motive, interesting characters who I haven't written about before, though I do think Nick Two John should play a bigger part in this offering. We'll see, not sure how I'll do that.

In any case, things are beginning to float around in my head so the next step is to start taking notes.

Wish me luck--or perhaps inspiration might be a better word.

And while we're wishing, I wish you a very Merry Christmas.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What Mystery Writing Demands

Mystery as a genre is often dismissed as...well...genre fiction. It's true that there are expected, almost required elements that can make a mystery formulaic. Events sometimes veer from reality for the sake of plot. The police ignore possibilities outside the box. The protag loses his cell phone. He goes alone to a place where every sense should be screaming, "Don't!" A convenient character shows up and drops an essential bit of information without any real reason for doing so.
(In the book I'm currently reading--big name author--the protag is just wandering through an area and two complete strangers venture out of their homes, one after the other, and invite him in. Each provides valuable information about the case. Maybe I'm lacking social sense, but I cannot recall the last time I saw someone passing on the road and asked him in for tea!)
Mystery writing--at least the best of it--requires writing talent along with an additional skill: mystery construction. To create characters who resonate, plots that hold interest, and settings that pop is one thing, and we certainly want that. To at the same time drop hints for the reader, hints that add up later but don't give the whole thing away, is both different and difficult. Everything has to contribute, every blind alley must be believable at first but then not. As a reader, I feel cheated if a character has shown no sign of evil and yet is in the end. I hate it when the crime is so elaborate there is little possibility of it succeeding, and yet it does. I'm angry when the evildoer is not even on the radar until the final revelation.
In addition to good story-telling, then, a mystery writer has to do good mystery-telling. Unlike other genres, mystery is a maze. The writer knows the layout, and the reader must follow his lead. He should not meander, should not examine unrelated avenues. He should guide the reader deftly, with a clear reason for every twist and turn taken.
A reader of mystery should be entertained by good writing, but she should also find at the end that she was given, within the maze, a fair chance to solve the puzzle by herself. One hopes that she missed it, being so entertained by the journey.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

No Cents

How crazy is this? People breaking into a store to steal stuff that is given away for free. Duh.

Read all about it here.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

"I Kill People Off for a Living"

When people ask me what I do, I like to say, "I kill people off for a living." It's amazing the responses I get. Sometimes, I'll get a nervous laugh, a snicker, widened eyes, shocked expressions or just looks of confusion.

I know what they're thinking.

Really? She kills people off? Is she joking? What does she mean by that?

Yes, I'm a bit of a mind reader. But with this, it's not too difficult. Besides, I do it on purpose. I have a desire to shock people every now and then. Some may think it's a sadistic tendency; I just think it's kind of fun. And funny.

Most times, I'll clarify my answer. "I write suspense. I kill people off...fictitiously."

Their response. "Oh!" I'll hear a sigh of relief most times, then another laugh as they explain they weren't too sure about me.

I started saying this as a reply after my first thriller Divine Intervention was released back in 2004. As Cheryl Kaye Tardif, I've killed off someone in every novel. And not always people who deserve to die. I don't intentionally go looking for someone to write off; it just happens as a natural result of the direction the plot is going in.

So what about Cherish D'Angelo, my alter-ego who writes romantic suspense? Well, it seems even Cherish isn't immune to the need to write someone off--permanently. She tried to keep the victim alive. At least, in the second draft. But the victim, who wasn't a nice person at all, just begged to be killed. So I did this person in. Or, I should say, Cherish did.

Sure, Cherish may have the flowery name and she may write scintillating romance scenes and flowery descriptive prose, but she's also aware that once a character has fulfilled their destiny, we don't always need them around. And sometimes bad things happen to bad people.

In Lancelot's Lady, I can guarantee you one thing. There's a corpse. Now you just have to read it to find it. J

Lancelot's Lady is available in ebook edition at KoboBooks, Amazon's Kindle Store, Smashwords and other ebook retailers. "Cherish the romance..."

~Cherish D'Angelo (aka Cheryl Kaye Tardif)

Lancelot's Lady ~ A Bahamas holiday from dying billionaire JT Lance, a man with a dark secret, leads palliative nurse Rhianna McLeod to Jonathan, a man with his own troubled past, and Rhianna finds herself drawn to the handsome recluse, while unbeknownst to her, someone with a horrific plan is hunting her down.

You can learn more about Lancelot's Lady at Be sure to check out my blog and follow me on Twitter at 

Friday, December 03, 2010

Be Wary While Shopping

Already one of grown granddaughters had $20 stolen from her pocket while shopping. She was distracted because she was tending to a friend's toddler.

This is the time of year when the thieves are out in force and looking for unwary shoppers.

If you're going to leave your purchase in the car, not only be sure the car is locked, but that the purchases are in the trunk or on the floor where they won't be so easily seen.

Pay attention when you're walking in the parking lot with your purchases. Already have your key out. Watch to see who all is around you, if you're worried go back to the store and have someone walk out with you.

When you are still inside the store, keep an eye on those who are around you. Hang onto your purse, don't leave it in a basket or set it down anywhere.

It's too bad we have to think like this during the Holiday season, but far better to be wary than robbed.


Wednesday, December 01, 2010

A crime novelist is....

In defference to the spirit of the holiday season, I thought I'd lighten the topic of crime by offering a humorous (but realistic) look at what makes a crime novelist:

You know you are a crime novelist when...

10. ...if you don’t answer the phone because you’ve just stepped out of the shower, for the rest of the day you worry that the robber who called to ensure no one was at home is going to show up on your doorstep–or in your basement.

9. see the flashers of a cop car behind you and you’re pretty sure they're pulling you over to ask for your help in solving a major crime

8.'re certain that at some point in your life you are going to discover human remains and it won’t be in a funeral home or a graveyard

7. know the number for Crime Stoppers and have to resist calling in tips on what murder investigators ought to be doing. You also want to read them your list of suspects.

6. think your novel is more exciting and more realistic than that "other author’s" True Crime books.

5. vehemently deny that you ever wanted a ‘real’ career in law enforcement. And you lock all your doors and are in bed by 10:00 pm–unless you are in the middle of writing an exciting scene. In which case you go to bed two hours before your alarm goes off.

4. believe you would be a good candidate for the next Commander in Chief of the RCMP and are a bit disappointed when no one calls.

3. believe that cops are simply engaging in an grand conspiracy of denial when they say real-life policing is not nearly as exciting as it is on TV.

2. ...the lady crossing the street in a wheelchair looks suspicious to you.

AND...the top trait of a Crime novelist: think your manuscripts are so compellingly realistic that publishers are rejecting them out of fear that either the police or organized crime will come after them if they print your novels!

Happy Holidays to you all and the very best in 2011!

2011 will be an excellent year for me.  I'm excitedly awaiting the release of my debut novel SCHRODINGER'S CAT by WolfSinger Publications.  Can hardly wait.

Eileen Schuh, Author