That’s the goal of every author, right? But sometimes we get distracted.
Back in, oh, 1997, I got my first computer, a hand-me-down from my sister. I couldn’t even get online with that thing, but I kept trying. Finally, knowing I wanted to write a book, my husband bought me a used machine and I learned how to operate it—even went to some message boards and met a few people that I still keep in touch with.
But no book was written.
I outgrew that computer pretty quickly, and snagged a brand new, custom-built job—still no book. Over the next ten years, I thought about that Great American Novel, but I didn’t actually start putting pen to paper, so to speak, until 2005.
Oh, happy day! My husband was thrilled, kept the kids away, took over the cooking and cleaning. And I wrote.
A whopping 1000 words.
I mentioned distractions, right? Well, we had five kids between us, and I ran our various businesses, and then I went back to college. Again. And I kept upgrading my computer system, and wow, have things changed or what?
But still no book.
One night, January 31, 2012, to be exact, I had a dream. The next morning, and over the next six months, I wrote a book; dystopian fiction—REDUCED. That was followed by REUSED, RECYCLED, and, coming in March 2015, God willing and the creek don’t rise (actually, rising creeks are a hazard around here), REPEAT will be, um, released.
Still no Great American Novel.
I found the file today. It was under “book.doc.” Nice, huh? As an author and publisher, I have many, many files with the word “book” in them. Many. It took me a 30 solid minutes of searching and clicking. But it’s there—all 1000 words.
Wow. Only 80,000 or so to go . . .
After I read it, and managed not to cringe, much, I remembered that I’d introduced a few more characters—so where did they go?? Fortunately, they had unique names, old-fashioned ones, so I searched again. Found another file: book (autosaved).doc.
Impressive, yes? I really need to give this at least a working title . . .
Maybe it’s right that things turned out like this. Maybe I needed all those years to gain more experience, more skill. Maybe I’ll get it written. Soon. Ish.
It’s epic—in the truest sense of the meaning of that word—twists, turns, parallels, flashbacks; it covers five generations of women in one family. History, love, war. And after finding that second file, well, I’m up to nearly 3000 words.
I might even be able to keep some of them.
And while I have, as yet, no title, and no synopsis, it does have a genre: family friction. No, that’s not a typo. It’s a new genre—and this may be the first book categorized as such. You can thank my mother . . . she knows!
Robin’s writing career began at the age of eight, when her grandmother insisted she read Gone with the Wind before taking her to see the movie. Inspired by Margaret Mitchell, she began scribbling little booklets of stories, and was the editor of her elementary school newspaper and a columnist in high school. She submitted a short story to Seventeen magazine and was promptly rejected, but still keeps a copy of the manuscript in her desk.
Robin has worked as a snack bar cook, a salad prepper, a camp counselor, a waitress, a receptionist, a housekeeper, a freelancer, an editor, and an employment consultant and manager. She’s also been in car sales, skin care sales, cookware sales, advertising sales, and MLM. She’s owned and operated an entrepreneurial conglomerate, a cleaning service, an old-time photography studio, a bookstore, and a publishing house.
Six years ago, Robin and her husband Dennis moved back to St. Louis, after many years in Columbia, Sedalia, Colorado Springs, Durango, and Granbury and Tolar, Texas. They live with their youngest son, a dog, a cat, and a new puppy. www.robintidwell.com
Website URL: http://www.RobinTidwell.com
Blog URL: RobinTidwell.Wordpress.com
It’s the beginning of November and, sad to say, the end of baseball season. I’m a Yankee fan and those in the know about baseball, understand that the Yanks didn’t do so well this year. But that’s sports for you, some years you’re on top and some years you are not.
A few years ago while taking a break from my writer’s life my husband and I went to Japan and being baseball fans we got tickets to a game between the Tokyo Giants and the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. The stadium named Tokyo Dome is affectionately referred to The Egg. It is really quite large and I guess it resembles an egg.
There is an impressive covered ramp that encircles the stadium.
And there is a charming park in the back of the baseball stadium. It’s a small park, and is as precious looking as any garden you would see throughout Japan. From the ramp you can look down onto the park and watch fat golden koi swimming about in the pond.
One of the fun things about going to The Egg is visiting the arcade that was built next to the stadium.
There is a rollercoaster, a Ferris Wheel and an energetic, noisy arcade.
The rules in Japanese baseball are pretty much the same as here in the USA. But there is a different feeling once inside the stadium. Noodles, sushi, and bento boxes are on display for sale everywhere. There are some hotdogs and hamburgers stands, but the traditional Japanese fare seems to be the preferred food at these games.
During half time orange mascots appear on the field to entertain the people in the stadium.
There is lots of chanting, and evidently these chanters are pretty competitive, too. Some enthusiasts write chants, print them up and hand out copies at the game so that others will join in at the appropriate moment. Some people get airtime with the stadium loudspeaker to teach the game-goers a verse.
Not only is the food different in the stadium, but also the way beverages are sold is unlike how we do it here in the USA. Pretty young female venders walk through the crowd with kegs of beer and soda strapped to their backs. They’ll pour a foamy draft beer right there for you in the stands. And they sell sake and whisky along with wasabi nibbles.
Also, no one gets up while one of the teams is up at bat. Everyone waits until the end of an inning before they quickly carry out their own bento boxes, or the empty soda and beer containers. Not one scrap of trash is left on the floor.
There was a family sitting next to us. They had three very exuberant young boys, one of who spilled a full glass of soda on the floor that trickled down the steps. The people in front of us reported this to the maintenance department and someone came immediately to sop up the spill.
At night when the baseball game is over, you walk out of the stadium, and the noise, the lights from the arcade and rides makes you feel like you stepped out into a party.
I’ll leave you with a short chant that was translated by someone sitting next to us at the game. It was a specific chant to encourage a pitcher, not exactly a haiku but it was to the point.
Pitch that ball
Make that player strike at plate!
Margaret Mendel lives in New York City and is a past board member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, NYC. She has an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence. Many of her short stories have appeared in literary journals and anthologies and this year she published a novel, FISH KICKER. She has just finished a novel, PUSHING WATER, a story based in Vietnam in the years 1938 through 1941, and she has competed a short story collection. For more than twenty years, she worked in the mental health field, though now she devotes herself to writing full time. She is an avid photographer and not only drags a laptop, but a Nikon D7000 camera wherever she goes. Read more about Margaret on her blog at: http://www.pushingtime.com/home/
When I first met Margaret Sutton, and we decided to write a book together, all I could think of was “The Odd Couple.” Not that either of us matched the personality types of Felix and Oscar, but we certainly were as opposite as opposite could get. How could a humor columnist who was known as the Erma Bombeck of Plano, Texas and an entrepreneur whose writing credentials included invoices, business letters, and a single sale to Ellery Queen’s Mystery magazine turn out anything even remotely appealing to fans of hard-boiled crime fiction?
Finding our way from that brash beginning to the publication of Doubletake, a police procedural featuring a female homicide detective, was a most interesting journey. I juggled five young children and a weekly deadline at the newspaper. Margaret juggled a manufacturing business and a busy social life. But somehow we made it.
The first thing we realized was how much research we needed to do. Collectively, we knew zip about law enforcement – speeding tickets not withstanding – and we had no clue how the criminal mind works. Honest, we didn’t. We were lucky in that we both had connections to people in law enforcement, and those people were happy to help us get it right. Police officers really do hate it when authors don’t get it right.
After an initial period of research and outlining the story, we each chose sections to write. Usually, that was determined by who came up with the original idea for that part of the plot, and I was sometimes amazed at how effortless that process could be. Our plan was to meet once a week and trade chapters. We each would then add our touch to the other’s work, hoping the end result would be a smooth blend.
Margaret was the epitome of tact when she read my first attempt to get into the killer’s mind. It was… well, how should I put this…so nice. But what did she expect from a mom? She put the pages down and suggested that perhaps the killer wouldn’t be thinking in terms of “Gosh, Golly, Gee.” Maybe he’d go for something with a little harder edge. When I told her I didn’t know about harder edges, she took me out back and made me use words I’d never even heard before. She made me say them over and over until they could come out without making me stammer or blush.
When collaborating, it really helps to have a sense of humor. When egos tended to get a bit sensitive, we found laughing beat arguing and Margaret took that to heart. It became a personal challenge to come up with a bigger and better practical joke to play on me the next time I came to her office to work. Don’t even ask me about the fake puke on the stack of manuscript pages I’d spent weeks typing. (Yes, this all started long before computers and printers.)
A writing partnership that is a complement of talents is a real gift. In the two years we worked on Doubletake, I noticed that Margaret’s strengths bolstered my weaknesses and my strengths bolstered hers. Each of us brought something unique and special to the process and, now reading through the book, I’m never sure where one of us left off writing and the other began. I couldn’t look at a chapter and tell you specifically who wrote which section. I may know who started a chapter. Margaret does have a wonderful way of setting up memorable secondary characters-the introduction of the irascible Dr. Davis is uniquely hers-but beyond that, the lines blur; which is a very good thing. Even though quilts play a central part in the plot, I’d hate to think the book resembled one.
Two brutal murders rock the quiet community of Twin Lakes, Texas, and Detective Barbara Hobkins must catch the killer before becoming the target of Doubletake. First published under the pen-name Sutton Miller, the book has been revised and updated and re-released as an e-book and paperback. “You’ll hate to put this one down until you have read that last word. Highly recommended by a satisfied reader, and I’m looking forward to the next book by this author. Enjoy.” Anne K. Edwards
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Maryann Miller won her first writing award at age twelve with a short story in the Detroit News Scholastic Writing Awards Contest and continues to garner recognition for her short stories, books, and screenplays. She lives in the beautiful Piney Woods of East Texas, where she also loves to play on stage.
Margaret Sutton has headed several unique businesses in the Dallas area. These included the production of home decorating items and a custom-design carpet sculpting business. Sutton has placed short stories in several mystery magazines such as Ellery Queen Magazine. A resident of Texas, Sutton shares her home with a pet monkey and considers herself “Willie’s Mom”.
Buy Links for Doubletake
You can find out more about Maryann and her other books at her Amazon Author Page * Website * Blog and follow her on Facebook and Twitter Margaret likes to remain more of a mystery.
Trade paper, 248 pgs.
Lillian Melendez’s Auditory Viewpoint is a one-of-a kind mystery for me. I’ve not read any other books that has a blind woman working to solve a mystery. Melendez does it very well, except for one point–her main character seems to lose sight of the goal of solving who is trying to kill her sister! Actually, it seemed to make her much more realistic… Can you imagine being blind and having others feel that you could not take care of yourself? Gloria Rank had proven it to herself and was living alone and apparently doing quite well. She was the older sister of Anna, who seemed to be one of those individuals. So much so that when Anna finds herself in trouble and Gloria wants to help, it created somewhat of an argumentative situation… Sounds pretty realistic, doesn’t it. Except that Gloria had reached “that point” where she knew she had to show her sister and others just how well she could handle even a dangerous situation.
I enjoyed it myself, but others may see her as a domineering woman, which she is not. Gloria knows that there are other senses that humans all have, that we do not use as fully, just because we can see! She was determined to take the time to teach her sister how to better protect herself, even while Anna came across in a condescending manner. A very interesting and brave approach by Melendez because that sometimes makes her two main female characters come across negatively. I’m assuming that my thoughts are correct and I’m applauding the author for taking on this challenge to make it more realistic…If I’m wrong, then probably Gloria’s interpersonal skills need to be worked on if she appears in another novel…LOL
Gloria Rank was co-host for a talk radio program, “The Scope Morning Show” along with John Myers and had earlier met Benjamin Taylor, an information security analyst, who had provided his expertise on a program on identity theft and cybercriminals, plus what you can do if you happen to become a victim.
She had learned enough on that program to automatically think of Ben when her sister called her, distressed, because her identity had apparently been stolen! As the investigation proceeded, the police had found tape of a woman that looked very much like Anna accessing her account. Apparently $12,000 was gone!
But what did that have to do with the dead man found at her door?!!! Police began to suspect that there was actually somebody out there wanting to hurt Anna and they suggested she leave her apartment…
Two learning aspects for readers is, first, from the IT expert on identity theft and other scams, but the more important–or at least just as important–is Gloria’s teaching Anna and also Ben about learning how to more effectively use all of your physical senses… Even smell might be important, right in your home!
Once the police realized that the sisters were doing their own investigation, they tried to make them understand how dangerous it was, but at least they tried to keep in touch as often as possible. And Ben seemed to be making the time away from his own work to go with them–so, of course, he began to take the lessons that Gloria was adamant they learn. Now, admittedly, there were a lot of conversations that were overheard, but overkill might just convince those of you who still believe that there is safety in numbers, like at a mall, well, soon it was apparent that was not true, especially when a little device was added to the criminals’ activities… Don’t know what that is? This might have been created to read ID numbers from boxes to maintain inventory…But what can the criminal minds’ ideas become?
There is a fascinating twist that you should be on the alert for… Two of our characters will be recipients of the activity–acting as a trigger of the same event…One is good; one is evil…or driven to revenge? Once again, a daily occurrence in American lives becomes the basis for criminal action…
This is an informative as well as taunting story that makes readers stop to consider what they can do or learn to be safer. I have only one suggestion to this professional writer…take the time to listen to how people are talking these days–it’s shorter, faster and not grammatical; e.g., very few young people will say, “What is up, brother?” Each of us will probably immediately think of multiple ways that this phrase has been reduced… There is a fine line that writers need to learn and use in today’s world. We talk in contractions, do not say entire words that would occur in formal writing. This book could have been much more exciting, more in line with other thrillers coming out, if, whenever possible, and easily understandable to readers, sentences are not filled with lots of adjectives and other shortcuts that are prevalent in today’s world…This is more important, in my opinion, in mystery, suspense, and thriller genres… Don’t go too far, but a lot of extra words really could have been taken out without hurting the basic story. I would still recommend it because of the unique concept of the story, as well as the information provided. It’s hard to claim this book is not well written, but it is different from Americanized talking… Work to find that balance, and you’ll find there will definitely be a difference in the speed of reading and the ability of readers to more quickly sink into your story…
Book Provided for Review
A Golden Retriever Mystery
Neil S. Plakcy
Kindle Edition – 2011
Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid
Let me introduce myself. My name is Rochester and I am a Golden Retriever. For those of you who read about me in the book In Dog We Trust, it is good to see you again. For those new to Golden Retriever Mysteries, Welcome!
For a little background, I now share a townhouse with Steve Levitan. We enjoy each other’s company and share some wonderful times as well as a few scary adventures. Steve has a full time job as an adjunct in the English Department of Eastern College, his alma mater. Having a full time job is something new for Steve and me. Steve got into a little trouble prior to moving here and it has been a struggle to put the past behind him but things seem to be coming together now.
Steve is currently working under Mike MacCormac, the director of alumni relations and Eastern is getting ready to launch a $500 million capital campaign to fund new constructions, scholarships and faculty chairs. Mike isn’t happy with Joe Dagorian, director of admissions. Mike has a wealthy alumni targeted for a major gift but Joe is refusing to send an admittance letter to Moran’s son.
The night of the big fund-raiser finally arrives and Steve is busy at the party. I am resting in Steve’s office when I decide to go wander around outside and that is when I find Joe’s body. I immediately notify Steve, the police are called and the investigation begins.
Joe thought the money being spent for the party was a waste and could be used to better advantage in other areas. There were several people at the party who had reason to be happy to be rid of Joe so there was no lack of suspects.
Joe was Steve’s mentor and his friend and Steve was determined to do everything he could to bring the killer to justice. I was able to be quite a bit of help when I uncovered a few clues and pointed them out to Steve. Joe’s murder was not the only mystery that was solved in this story.
Kindle Edition, 320 pgs
Release date 03/11/14, $10.99
Reviewed by: Gina R. Metz
The Weight of Blood is set in Henbane, Missouri deep in the heart of the Ozarks. The story begins with Lucy Dane a seventeen year old born and raised in Henbane. Her friend from down the road, Cheri Stoddard, has been missing for a year and her body has just been found in pieces jammed into an old hollow tree. Lucy feels guilty that she was not a better friend to Cheri and that she did not try harder to find her or help her when she went missing. The papers labeled her as “deficient” or “developmentally disabled”. Kids at school had called her a lot worse things. Lucy had outgrown her and hadn’t spent much time with her in later years.
Lucy’s Mother, Lila Dane, had come to Henbane not quite a year before Lucy was born. Lila Dane was from a small town in Iowa and orphaned at twelve. After struggling through foster care, at eighteen she signs a contract to work for two years in Henbane to try to save money to continue her education. Henbane does not welcome or accept outsiders easily. Lila is a beautiful woman and soon rumors are going around the town that she is a witch. Things do not work out as Lila planned and she disappears when Lucy is only a year old. It is believed that she committed suicide since all she took with her when she left was a gun but her body is never recovered.
The story shifts between Lucy, Lila and her friends and family as Lucy tries to discover what happened to Cheri and her Mother. The Weight of Blood is a fast paced read that reveals the seedier side of life in a small town in a beautiful area. Nothing is as it appears on the surface. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to other books by Laura McHugh.