Monday’s musing on back-story, and author Margot Kinberg’s latest post…

Hey all,

So Monday’s Musing on Author Margot Kinberg’s latest blog post, “I Am the Observer Who is Observing* —at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist https://margotkinberg.wordpress.com/2018/05/31/

Not unlike the spotted pup above who looks to be observing all, Kinberg’s post got me thinking: how can the observer characters in crime-fiction help us write better back-story into our novels?

Kinsberg likens writers to those people in life who tend to be the natural observers, the chill peeps…nothing gets by these guys! You probably know a few. I know I do (myself included.) If you ever read Agatha Christie, you know Poirot is always looking to interview the observers, the ones who been there and saw that! And he always gets the most info out of them in terms of solving X for Y!

Similarily, if you watch any of HBO’s crime fighting shows, or BBC’s mystery dramas you know observers are the detective’s main go-to’s!  Even more so than physical evidence found on scene most of the time.

As Kinsberg notes: “Observers often have a very interesting perspective, because they stand back and notice everything…can give valuable information on what they’ve seen. And their perspectives can give the detective a sense of what a group of people is like So, it’s little wonder that we see them so often in crime fiction.” 

 

 What intrigued me the most in Kinberg’s post was her mention of author Louise Penny’s book, Still Life. In it, the victim, Jane Neal, seems to be the observer, albeit from after the grave. She helps the cops by letting them know she’d known things, a lot of things, that other people in town just may have wished she hadn’t! Which, ironically enough sealed her doom!

I just so happen to be working up a novel where the victim chimes in from after the grave too. And it’s especially cool using this as a way tof deal with a character’s back-story. Back-story is so challenging. It engrosses us as we create our characters, but can too easily become the all consuming dreaded author’s “dumping ground” too. After all, we don’t want to barrage  the reader in one fell swoop with 4-11 overload, right? Or, as esteemed crime fiction author Les Edgerton affectionately calls it, doing “The Rubber Ducky” (http://lesedgertononwriting.blogspot.com/rubber-ducky.):

“The “Rubber Ducky” is Paddy Chayevsky’s term for when the hero or villain, at a lull in the action, explains he is the way he is because his mother took away his rubber ducky when he was three…Always a nice scene…totally unnecessary …usually comes from not trusting the reader’s or viewer’s intelligence to “get it”….

…if  you’re trying to give your hero more emotional depth, for the sake of emotional depth, without integrating his back-story…you run the risk of awakening the “dread Ducky.”  Edgerton

 

Not sure how my attempt will go, but going back in time and letting the victim tell some of the tale from an observer standpoint seems a great way to deal-in her back-story without awakening the dreaded RD. 

Could make my tale more present for the reader, involving them intimately as they hear my vic’s own voice relaying the rough-ride. Better her than me, no? Gotta get out of my characters way and let them do the heavy lifting!

Thoughts, comments, odd musings on the topic?

Drop em’ all below, and let’s talk!

Ciao for now,

Lisa

 

 

Today’s feature: Author Chris Roy’s latest….

Hey kids...Today we’re checking in with a mid-week blog tour highlighting extraordinary author Chris Roy’s latest addition, “Her Name is Mercie.”   

Author Chris Roy

Author: Chris Roy

A dark collection of grist and gore for the late-night thrill-seeker in us all, “Mercie’s” tales combine revenge, cop chases, car crashes, horror, and even a good old-fashioned ghost-story highlighting Roy’s Southern Mississippi roots with glimpses of marshlands and bayous at Roy’s story-telling finest.

But beware…read these stories late at night at your own peril…my lights were down low when I started but burning bright by midnight. Of course, a little good old-fashioned horror fiction never really hurt anyone….right? 

 

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To start, I really enjoyed the title story, “Her name is Mercie.”
Mercie is one chick I could get behind! She’s a stand-alone girl in
a world gone crazy, having had both her parents and everything she knows taken away from her in one small moment! A fatal car crash, a girl gone mad, a stolen car and a bank robbery at gun point are just some of the highlights!

And you know you’re in for a good ride when Mercie, after seeing the coroner push the tables with her parent’s bodies back into the freezer, “grinds her teeth, looking at the Grim Reaper’s Lunchable cooler” then punches Chief Perez as hard as she can in response to him asking “are you ok?”

Personally, I really liked Roy’s stab at a bit of dark humor throughout, especially when our girl stops at none other than ”Sears” to buy the weapon of choice. And when her new-found Asian friend Kermit (yes, like the frog,) names their next ride ‘‘Miss Piggy’’… also very endearing.

“Libby’s Hands” was also a stand-out:her-name-is-mercie-received_10216173315868194-e1527158533876.jpeg

A good old-fashioned ghost story set on Halloween night with creepy goblins and ghouls roaming the streets set amidst Roy’s Mississippi background bayou stomping ground:

“She knew. Somehow she knew it was connected. She ran. Light from the back porch glistened on the wet grass, shoes soaked by the time she reached the pond. The tree was on the other side. A huge sycamore with low hanging branches, thick black tangled mass with the moon behind it. “Ah!” Dina slipped on the path next to the water, nearly splashing in. Dirt on her hands, grass on her knees, wrinkled her nose. Shoving to her feet she marched along the path, wary of the waterline and the tall grass she knew harbored snakes.”

In this tale, our girl Libby seems to be brought back from the 70’s as a super-natural force to be reckoned with in the present, trying any way she can to steal back the hands that were never given to her in the first place. We watch the horror and tension mount, as first a boy from the neighborhood trick or treat patrol gets his hand bound and mutilated, then Dina, Libby’s cousin and the storie’s protagonist suffers the same fate.  Creepy to the hilt, it wont be leaving your gut any time soon! Libby will keep you up tossing and turning late, if you dare! 

Also, a shout out also to “Marsh Madness.” Again, lots of hints of Chris’s Mississippi upbringing here. Makes you feel like you’ve taken a tumble right into the marsh along with the alligator and the very unfortunate pup. But the real question is, Is he trying to appease his greater need for the kill by killing off a helpless animal instead of humans? Not really sure, can only wonder… Or, maybe he takes out all in the end, grandma and the boy, just teasing them first…

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Kat Jayne; Pexels.com

My ARC ran short here, so I’ll never know. But the thought will keep me guessing, for sure!

 

Universal Purchase Link:  http://bookgoodies.com

Trailer:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLv2jjpJJxQ&feature=youtu.be

Other books by Chris

Purchase Links:   

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Chris-Roy

Website | Facebook | Amazon

Chris Roy was raised in South Mississippi, in the midst of ugly Gulf Coast beaches and spectacular muddy bayous. Chris lived comfortably with the criminal ventures of his youth until a fist fight in 1999 ended tragically. Since January, 2000, he’s been serving a life sentence in the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Nowadays he lives his life crime vicariously, through the edgy, fast-paced stories he pens, hoping to entertain readers. When he isn’t writing, he’s reading, drawing or looking for prospects to train in boxing.

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Friday’s Focus: The Writing Wins…

Happy Friday all….

Today’s inspiration came from one of my fave blog spots, Writersinthestorm.com, and guest blogger Christina Delay’s post, Living for the Writing Wins;http://writersinthestormblog.com.

Oh man, can I relate!

Ms. Delay reminds us that if we only focus on the highs, the wins when they come, and get too swept away by the euphoria of it all, we could just as easily come crashing down on the other side. And boy is she right!

In April, I experienced this all too real. You may already know, but I hit the big time, scoring huge when two of my short stories were picked up and published on two different, and long-time coveted, crime fiction sites. I’ve been wanting to add them both to my bio. for a while now and finally nailed that goal! (http://www.close2thebone.co.uk, and http://www.outofthegutteronline.com)

What a month it’s been; congrats coming out of the woodworks, smiles for days and an overall pumped up mood in my core that hasn’t been there for a while….I’ve been like a jack-rabbit on steroids! But the crash came all too soon!

Ms. Delay described the writing journey like a roller coaster with its crazy ups and downs, and she’s right! My moment in the sun faded all too fast as I realized it was just that – and settled back into the daily grind, cranking out more stories, entering more contests, and facing that uncertain future my writing life is.

Most days, I wish I had a crystal ball that would just tell me if I was on the right path or not, but that’s just not how a writer’s life goes!

So, I’ve decided – it’s the journey, the road ahead that matters most. I’ll celebrate those wins, the published moments like crazy! Champagne and caviar if you will! But keep my eyes focused on the road under my feet too, lest I trip and not get back up!

Like Rocky Balboa, I’ll take those punches, but keep on moving!

That’s my plan anyway!

Ciao for Now,

Lisa

Monday’s Musing on writing for free…

Hey all, today we’re musing on an important writers quandary: writing for pay vs. writing for free…

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Do you think your writing career, past, present, and future, feels a lot like this photo...grim, grey, and oh so foggy, with the road ahead looking dim and no clear-cut path to success?

I’m willing to bet my hard-earned weekend’s track winnings there are more than a lot of us out there, all wanting to pen our way on to the NY Times Bestseller list and having to do all sorts of crazy things to get there.

By the way, this topic was inspired by way of my girl Michelle over at The Green Study.com and Jamison, another blogger at Jamison Writes.com. (If you don’t know either, check em’ out now,) as well as my recent short story publishing successes (see my last couple posts for more on that score.)  All the above have me musing on this dilemma….should writers work for free, or should they work for hire only…

Like interning or freelance writing with no contract or financial agreement in place beyond maybe a few bucks, guest blogging to help out other authors and hoping to gain a few readers, blog tours where again, you read and review to help out other authors, and yes, even blogging, all of it is done for free with little to no compensation and no guarantee it will further your writerly aspirations in the long run. I’m no expert, but after having tried out all these to some extent both now and during my recent grad school affair, I can say one thing: all of it can make you feel like an elephant treading water….eventually, you feel like you’re losing the battle!

For those of you still with me, you probably already know. It takes an enormous amount of time, energy, and drive to write a carefully researched, thoughtful and engaging commentary, review, blog or guest post, and then to have nothing to show for it, well. It’s not all roses and candy canes! But, it depends on your goals.

As writers, of course we want readers and recognition, but to get there, something you put out has to keep the lights on too or there’s no internet left to post your scribblings on. So, what’s an ambitious writer to do??

This is where I’d luv to hear your commentary, thoughts, and considerations. Jump on in, the water’s warm! I haven’t quite yet turned into that drowning mammal, and I’m still hoping to tread lightly and make it to the other side. And I hope you make it there with me!

Ciao for now, 

Lisa

Pump up the blood in your prose…

Hey All…

So, we’re a day late on Monday’s Muse, but here it is, nonetheless! Sometimes, it’s just a matter of seeing something to inspire, like these couple posts, one by Paul D. Marks at Sleuthsayers.org http://www.sleuthsayers.org, and  No Wasted Ink Writers Links to Kill Zone’s post, https://killzoneblog.com/2018/02/get-some-blood-pumping-in-your-prose.html

All the above got my wheels spinning on pumping up the blood volume, especially in a drowning scene I’m working on. Mr. Mark’s film noir post at Slethslayers crushed it, with old school black and white photos from classic film noir pics. I dare you to scroll through the list and not feel the rush of blood ramping up through your veins as your write!

And Kill-Zone’s post is the bomb too. I mean, who doesn’t want more blood and action in their scenes??

That’s the good stuff…it’s what keeps readers comin’ back for more, turnin’ pages late into the night! Action, action, and more action. somebody’s gotta die?? Don’t just talk about it. DO IT! Right there on your page! Make it happen, blood, guts, guns, and grief!

Let the dogs out people….un-chain em’, and go for it!

Ciao for now,

LIsa

Friday came fast, but fighting’s faster…

It’s my Favorite day of the week again, and I’ve got a good share here for you. Ever hear of Piper Bayard of Bayard and Holmes?

I hadn’t either. until this week, courtesy of her guest-blog post at http://writersinthestormblog.com/2018/03/33471t 

Bayard and Holmes: SPYCRAFT

But, if you’re trying to write a kick-ass fight scene, you gotta check her out. Her and her husband write crime thrillers, and have the resume to get the job done right.

Word is, she’s an ex-attorney, and he’s a forty-year veteran of both the armed services and intelligence communities. HMMMM….Me thinks I smell a spy! And in fact, they have a soon to be released non-fiction how-to, called  SPYCRAFT: Essentials for Writers, which sounds like a whole lot of fun. And super helpful too. You know, for when you want your main gal to be able to kick some serious ass while dodging bullets in a foreign underground makeshift prison, all the while phoning the 4-11 in to the CIA back home. Yeah….have fun spinning your wheels on that prompt, kiddies!

In her blog post, she covers  basics on how to imagine everyday items as weapons. Now I just so happened to be camped out at the local slop shop reading her post when my brain kicked into gear and spit out this little nugget:

Sitting in the local slop shop reading this and it’s making me wanna do things. Things I shouldn’t, but wanna do anyway. Things like take out the string-bean waiter with my fork, grab the chandelier and smack the nappy haired busboy over the head, then use the shards to smash open the pie case and grab up a few before dining ‘n’ dashing….

Just sayin!

What’s your take?? Dyin’ to hear!

 

Ciao for now,

Lisa

Hi all… Been out on blogging hiatus but I’m back…

Well it’s 2018, and hi there all…

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Snoopy’s musing..

Been out on blogging hiatus but I’m back! And in desperate need of a blogging fix!

So, it’s March 2018, and my focus is on why blog, why do we break, and why, oh why do we ever return? I think it’s basically destiny. If you’re born to write, you write. No matter what. Even if it means shaking off those long dreary months of writing/critiquing/rejection/re-writing/rinse….repeat….etc…

Or, it could be your finances, or lack thereof, that took you down that street of dreams into job fantasy-land for a while, into whatever 9 – 5 situation was offered up thinking hey, at least you’re keeping the light on, eh??

But if any of you have seen that new show “Corporate” on network TV, the office stretch ain’t exactly what you might think, as I so recently found out. The show mimics the original hilarious, all time laugh out loud funny sitcom, “The Office” with Steve Carrell, and John Krasinsky, and puts you in a similar place of mind where the expected is ludicrously ridiculous and yet, oh so imaginable! And of course, when you’re doing the office-corporate gig or even a teaching stint like I was, (which, you’ll be hearing more about soon, ) your wrting will probably take a serious back seat. In my case, more like the trunk of my falling apart 2000 Camry in desperate need of retirement. Hence, the job! Which is all to say, why you haven’t seen me here in a while.

But excuses be dammed! And never one for quitting, I’m back. And so, I move forward. With promises of more writing to come, and getting back to our main squeeze, deliciously dark, desperately delectable, sinful, fiction noir, and all things writing.

In the meantime, I leave you with a link to fellow blogger Michelle, at The Green Study via https://thegreenstudy.com.

Michelle has some great thoughts here on micro-resolutions, especially helpful for the new year. Check out her “writing” section, where she says she gave herself a “writing” map, and will travel with it as long as she can. Words to live by, fellow readers! And in that vein, so will I. My map into the new year includes posting here whenever the inspiration strikes. No more strict deadlines to meet, but Monday’s Muse will continue. And Friday’s flash fiction too. But on inspiration, not on demand. So keep an eye out!

And as always, Ciao for now.

Lisa