This week, I’m welcoming author, John Achor to my blog.
The first of John Achor’s three careers spanned twenty years as a U.S. Air Force pilot. He accumulated over 4,000 hours flying planes from Piper Cubs to the military equivalent of the Boeing 707. After the military, he entered the real estate industry. He joined a national real estate franchise as a management consultant working at the regional and national levels. Those positions led him to Phoenix, Arizona, and an affiliation with a major Savings & Loan institution.
In John’s words, “When the Savings and Loan industry melted away like a lump of sugar in hot coffee, I knew it was time to develop a third career.” He became a freelance computer instructor, user-developer, consultant, writer and Community College instructor.
In mid-1999, John moved to Hot Springs Village, Arkansas, where he lived in the piney woods with his wife Pat and their two cats, Lexus and Betsy Ross. As you may know from his latest book or web site; these two cats are no longer with them. Big hole in their lives, but both are waiting for us by The Rainbow Bridge. Their latest move was a recent relocation to the Omaha, Nebraska area where John is busy meeting and greeting new writers, readers and writing groups.
TO OUTLINE OR NOT TO OUTLINE, THAT IS THE QUESTION ,,,
(WITH APOLOGIZES TO THE BARD)
The title of this posting suggests there are two schools for thought regarding the use of outlines for writing ― in my case long fiction mysteries and thrillers. This is another writing subject where the experts disagree. I’ve found many who belong to one camp or the other and suggest they are correct ― meaning the rest of the world is therefore wrong. Back in the day when I was doing consulting work, we defined an expert as anyone with a briefcase who was fifty miles from home.
When speaking to authors, I am willing to share the techniques I use, and some I do not use. I put them forward and always suggest each person select the ones which work for them. I have a big enough ego to think I’m right, and I’ve had enough experience to know what works for me.
So, what’s the answer to the question the title proffers. The answer, for me, is Yes and Yes. The first novel I wrote was a thriller. It popped from my head fully formed ― much as Athena leapt from the head of Zeus, wearing full armor. Always thought that must have been super painful.
My first story came to me with mental details from A to Z ― a beginning, a middle and an end. I began to write (not in one sitting) and didn’t stop until I penned: The End. In those days many agents and publishers wasn’t to see the outline. I could oblige since, after the fact, I went back and created an outline of the story.
The second novel came to me as the germ of an idea. I had a feint idea of a start, but beyond that, it was blank white paper ― a clean uncluttered monitor screen. I began the outline and roughed out the full book chapter by chapter. Having an outline does not mean there is no room for change. Seldom does the full story come out on the computer screen directly from the outline. Yes, I made changes, however the outline was a major contributor to my efforts.
I once read an article stating there was no such thing as writer’s block. I pondered his premise and came to agree with him. This author said what most of us call writer’s block is simply a point where we don’t know where the story should go from the last words we’ve written … I found that was true for me, and used outlining to continue the story line. I usually find that creating an outline for the next few scenes or chapters breaks the log jam.
Again, these work for me. Skip the outline when everything is a go; use that approach when it will assist and speed up the writing flow. As you can see, I’ve used and skipped outlines as needed, and I suggest every author decide what works for them ― and keep the pencil moving (a phrase Natalie Goldberg introduced in “Writing Down the Bones).
Good muse …
Five-Six Deadly Mix
Casey Fremont has a knack for solving mysteries…
She also has a habit of ending up in danger…and this time both may get her killed!
In FIVE-SIX, DEADLY MIX, Casey Fremont lands in the middle of a combined local police/FBI investigation into fraud and theft at a local hospital. Also, Two women have suspiciously fallen to their deaths before Casey reports for work in her undercover role.
Once again, Casey brings her roommates, Effie Tremayne and Aaron Kincaid, along to lend a hand.
As usual, the rest of Casey’s life is in turmoil as well. Love interests shift and change, someone close to Casey falls ill, and she receives a visit from an uncle she’s not seen in years. This all forces Casey to make decisions that affect her while she edges ever closer to the truth of the hospital case, once more putting that life in deadly peril!
FIVE-SIX, DEADLY MIX is the third Casey Fremont Mystery from Author John Achor! Intrigue and Real life drama collide for Casey once again in this exciting volume of deduction and death! From Pro Se Productions.
Amazon buy link for Five-Six, Deadly Mix:
Amazon buy link for Three-Four, Kill Some More:
Website URL: www.johnachor.com
Blog URL: www.johnachor.wordpress.com
Facebook URL: www.facebook.com/jachor1
John and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.
Today, I’m hosting author, Nancy Boyarsky.
Nancy Boyarsky was born in Oakland, California. After graduating from U.C. Berkeley, her first job was as an assistant editor in a tiny, long-gone publishing company in San Francisco. She has worked as a writer and editor all of her life.
She is married to former Los Angeles Times City Editor Bill Boyarsky and lives in Los Angeles. She still devotes herself to writing, editing, and reading and has added painting to her list of hobbies. She loves the theater, films and travel, especially to the UK, where her first mystery, The Swap, takes place.
When Nicole Graves arranges a summer-long swap of her Los Angeles condo for a London couple’s house, she thinks it’s the perfect arrangement. She’s always dreamed of seeing the real London; she’s also hopeful the time away with her husband Brad will be good for their troubled marriage.
But things don’t turn out the way Nicole expects: The Londoners fail to arrive in L.A. and appear to be missing. Then people begin following Nicole and making threats, demanding information she doesn’t have. Soon, Nicole realizes she’s in serious trouble–but she can’t get Brad or the police to believe her.
When the confrontations turn deadly, Nicole must either solve the case or become the next victim.
Here is an excerpt:
Afterward, Nicole blamed herself for not sensing something wrong that very first day, when she stepped across the Lowrys’ threshold into their shabby front hall. But what, really, was there to notice, beyond the fact that the house was less than she’d expected? She was too exhausted from the long flight. If she was worried about anything, it was Brad’s silence, the impenetrable gloom that had enveloped him since they’d left L.A.
After a day or two, when she began to suspect she was in danger, it was impossible to get anyone to believe her. By the time the car blew up with that poor man inside, she understood this was no random act of terrorism. They were in serious trouble. Yet try as she might, it was impossible to convince Brad that the car bomb had anything to do with them, or the house swap, or the Lowrys, for that matter.
My ✰✰✰✰✰ Review
I enjoyed reading this novel very much. The story grips you from the very first page and doesn’t let go. With each succeeding page, the underlying tension is there in the words and the actions of the characters. The book was hard to put down and had me reading well into the night, with a well-formulated plot and more than a little romantic suspense. I highly recommend it.
Be sure to catch this brief video of, The Swap, on YouTube:
The Swap is available on Amazon:
Nancy and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.
This week, I’m hosting authors, Gwen Mayo and Sarah Glenn.
Gwen Mayo is passionate about blending her loves of history and mystery fiction. She currently lives and writes in Safety Harbor, Florida, but grew up in a large Irish family in the hills of Eastern Kentucky. She is the author of the Nessa Donnelly Mysteries and co-author of the Old Crows stories with Sarah Glenn.
Her stories have appeared in A Whodunit Halloween, Decades of Dirt, Halloween Frights (Volume I), and several flash fiction collections. She belongs to Sisters in Crime, SinC Guppies, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, the Historical Novel Society, and the Florida Authors and Publishers Association.
Gwen has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Kentucky. Her most interesting job, though, was as a brakeman and railroad engineer from 1983 – 1987. She was one of the last engineers to be certified on steam locomotives. http://www.gwenmayo.com
Sarah E. Glenn has a B.S. in Journalism, which is a great degree for the dilettante she is. Later on, she did a stint as a graduate student in classical languages. She didn’t get the degree, but she’s great with crosswords. Her most interesting job was working the reports desk for the police department in Lexington, Kentucky, where she learned that criminals really are dumb.
Her great-great aunt served as a nurse in WWI, and was injured by poison gas during the fighting. A hundred years later, this would inspire Sarah to write stories Aunt Dess would probably not approve of. http://www.sarahglenn.com
By Gwen Mayo
While researching the first Three Snowbirds mystery, Sarah and I ran across a lot of interesting tidbits of history that weren’t relevant to the story, but gave us a lot of insight into the people who built Citrus County. One of the tidbits that amused me dates back to the founding of the county. It had no place in Murder on the Mullet Express, but I think it shows the character and determination of the people.
In 1887, Florida Governor E. A. Perry signed into law a bill dividing Hernando County into three counties: Citrus to the north, and Pasco to the south. Legislation stipulated that for two years the town of Mannfield would be the temporary county seat of Citrus County, as it sat in the geographical center of the newly created county.
Voters were to decide where the permanent county seat would be located. The county was pretty much equally divided over keeping Mannfield as the county seat or moving it to Inverness. The political fight that ensued while trying to decide the permanent location of the county seat continued for the better part of two years. Several votes were taken without either side winning a majority.
On May 4, 1891, the supporters of Inverness finally won in a very close vote. That might have been the end of the story, but the opposition had no intention of quitting just because they lost by a few votes. Many of the county officials simply refused to move. The fight raged on, including a few fistfights. Mannfield supporters took the case to circuit court and managed to get a court injunction preventing the move.
Word travels fast, and the Inverness backers were determined to claim their hard-won victory. Before the injunction preventing moving the county seat could be served, Inverness supporters staged a midnight raid. Horses and wagons manned by Inverness supporters arrived in Mannfield. Everything that had to do with County government: records, court furniture, and fixtures, were stripped from the old courthouse and moved to the new county seat. Captain W.C. Zimmerman, the County Clerk, was in his office at the time and refused to move. Inverness men picked up his chair with him in it, loaded him in the wagon with his desk, and transported him and his office to the new location!
Inverness is still the county seat, and one of only two incorporated cities in Citrus County. As for what happened to Mannfield, only a few foundations remain. During the Great Depression, the United States Government purchased the property as part of the land conservation effort. Mannfield is now part of Florida’s Withlacoochee State Forest.
Here is an excerpt from Murder on the Mullet Express.
The Ladies Settle Into Their Room at Riverside Lodge
“I don’t know if buying a house here would be wise,” Teddy said as she hung her dresses in the wardrobe. “It’s not nearly as built up as the brochure suggested.”
“We haven’t seen where they’re building yet. Besides, not everything needs to be built up,” Cornelia replied, unrolling her stockings. “Quiet is its own tonic.”
“This is even more isolated than Fisher’s Mill. Only one store, no library, no sign of any nightlife—”
A shriek from the shared bathroom interrupted Teddy’s litany. The nurses dropped their respective projects and rushed to the door.
When Cornelia opened it, a young woman fell backwards into her arms. The girl screamed, and it was clear that she was the source of the first cry.
Cornelia stood her back on her feet. “What’s wrong?”
“It’s horrible!” she managed.
“That’s hardly helpful,” she snapped, and left her for Teddy to manage. Cornelia stepped into the frame of the bathroom door.
The opposite door was also open. An older woman with salt-and-pepper hair stood there, scanning the room with frightened eyes. The chamber behind her was strewn with clothing and hatboxes.
“Careful,” she said, “there’s a creature in here.”
“Creature? Where is it?”
“In the bath. A reptile or a snake.” The woman shuddered.
“Let me look.” Cornelia slid into the room, eyeing the crevices and corners with suspicion. At any moment, she might need to jump back if it were a poisonous snake.
The first and second corners were empty; a toiletry bag obscured the third. A strong chance of enemy action there. The fourth corner was hidden by the tub. She glanced over the top.
A small lizard blinked up at her. It was probably a gecko. Cornelia leaned on the edge of the sink and reached for the bath towel. She flung it over the creature, bundling the reptile inside.
“Coming through!” she shouted, carrying the wad of fabric into a hallway crowded with curious guests. “Out of the way, or I’ll drop this lizard down someone’s trousers!”
The crowd parted like the Red Sea, and she charged through the exit and onto the grounds. One snap of the towel, and the unwanted guest skittered into the bushes.
“I wouldn’t come back if I were you,” she warned the gecko. “They might make you into a change purse.”
The night manager, a Mr. Hoyt, was busy trying to calm his guests. “I’m very sorry, ma’am. I’ll check the room myself before you go back in.”
“I demand another room! Better yet, another hotel!” The woman with salt-and-pepper hair sounded bold, but her hands trembled.
“Ma’am, you can do what you think best, but I don’t have any open rooms, and I don’t think any other hotels in the area have an empty room, either.”
Cornelia sighed and looked at Teddy, who was trying to hide a smile. “If you’d like, I could check the bathroom regularly for varmints.”
“That would be very kind of you, Mrs.—?”
“Miss. Cornelia Pettijohn.”
“I’m Helen Minyard, and this is my niece, Kathleen Burnell. We’re indebted to you.”
I caught a lizard, not a rattlesnake, Cornelia thought, but merely replied, “It’s a small price to pay for everyone’s peace of mind.”
Later, after everyone had returned to their rooms, Teddy and Cornelia pushed the two single beds together.
“That was so funny,” Teddy said. “All that fuss over a gecko.”
“I remember another girl who made a similar fuss in San Juan. She was quite upset about a gecko.”
“That wasn’t a gecko; that was an anole. He puffed up his sac and made a pass at me, the masher.”
“But you screamed just as loud.”
“And you came to my rescue. I don’t recall dropping into your arms the same way, though.”
“No, you already had me just where you wanted me.”
They both laughed.
This week I’m welcoming back author, Carl Bookins.
Before he became a mystery writer and reviewer, Carl Brookins was a counselor and faculty member at Metropolitan State University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Brookins and his wife are avid recreational sailors. He is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Private Eye Writers of America. He can frequently be found touring bookstores and libraries with his companions-in-crime, The Minnesota Crime Wave.
He writes the sailing adventure series featuring Michael Tanner and Mary Whitney. The third novel is Old Silver. His new private investigator series features Sean NMI Sean, a short P.I. The first is titled The Case of the Greedy Lawyers. Brookins received a liberal arts degree from the University of Minnesota and studied for a MA in Communications at Michigan State University.
You are doing what?
OK. So I’m old, or aging, or however you want to phrase it. But I still have all my faculties. At least most of them. In some form.
So why, at 84, when I should probably go sit by the pool and read a good book, am I trying to establish a small publishing firm? That’s a very good question. I’ll try to answer it in a way that brings up numerous other questions I won’t try to answer.
I write stories, mostly crime fiction novels. You can find them at bookstores and on line under my name. I’ve been writing in one guise or another for about sixty years. My wife is a retired editor and publisher. You can see we’ve been pretty close observers of the writing field and we started when most writers used mechanical typewriters.
Back in the day, a writer wrote, submitted to an editor or agent who found a publisher and the work was eventually published. hard cover, paperback, trade editions, they all came out of professional publishing houses. It was not an inexpensive process.
There was something else, called Vanity Press, in which a writer could pay for the production of his or her book, usually without benefit of any professional editing. Most of those books seemed to fulfill the author’s needs but no one else’s.
Fast forward to the Twenty-first Century and new technology has made it possible to produce relatively inexpensive books in short order. But for them to stay out of the vanity publishing group, they still need rewrites, good book and cover designs, printing and distributing expertise. If you can provide all that, you can be a bone fide publisher. And it all costs money , to be paid for, hopefully, by future sales of the books you produce.
I’ve always believed that the authors ought to have more influence over publishing decisions, so I envision the formation of some kind of co-op to make most of the decisions about publishing books by this house, called Brookins Books, LLC. That’s what I am doing, very slowly and cautiously because all the functions of the publishing house cost money up front.. We’ll see how it goes.
The Case of the Stolen Case
Short private eye Sean NMI Sean grabs his gat and gets on his high horse to battle a roving gang of thieves and murderers. The gang has come to town after an unsolved pharmacy murder and robbery. A mysterious silver-colored case of unknown contents appears and disappears as Sean sorts a tangled web. When the gang targets Sean’s lady love, he mounts his high horse and like a house afire rides to retribution.
Come and enjoy a time of conversation with author Carl Brookins as he talks about translating his sailing adventures to fiction and creating fictional characters that feel like old friends. Brookins is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Private Eye Writers of America. He can frequently be found touring bookstores and libraries with his companions-in-crime, The Minnesota Crime Wave.
We’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.
Another year is nearing an end, and I’ve had a marvelous time hosting some talented and gracious authors on my blog. I’d like to thank each one of them, along with every loyal reader out there who has ever taken the time to leave a comment, written a review, emailed, tweeted, posted on Facebook, Goodreads, etc., or has personally told family members and friends about the books that have been featured on my blog.
It’s been an interesting year for me. In January, I decided not to renew my book contracts with my publisher, so I requested and was granted the rights to all my books. Then I had to go through the process of publishing them myself. And as the song goes, I did it my way, which is usually the long, hard way. But I’d had many disagreements with my publisher and it was a relief not have to deal with that publishing house any longer.
I managed to get all three of my novels out by May, which may seem like a long time for only three novels, but it was actually an accomplishment, since I’d had cataract surgery on both eyes, two weeks apart, in February. Which meant part of the month was kind of lost as far as writing is concerned.
Also at the beginning of this year, I began writing, The Tarkington Treasure, which is now available as an ebook for Amazon Kindle.
I wanted this to be the last novel in my Charlotte Ross Mystery series, but my editor has suggested that I write one more, just to tie up some loose ends. So, I guess I’ll be working on another Charlotte Ross mystery. But… I’ll also be writing a new cozy mystery series—The Willows Mysteries. The first book in the series is titled: In the Absence of Evidence. I hope to get both novels out some time next year. I’m keeping my muses crossed, anyway.
As I’ve done in previous years, to thank all the wonderful authors who have appeared on my blog this year, I’m going to tweet each of their blog posts every day until December 31st. I hope everyone will help them out by re-tweeting.
Thanks for reading my blog. I wish you all happiness and wellbeing—and for every author out there: Super-fantastic book sales in 2017!
This week I’m welcoming back my friend, and fellow member of the Oak Lawn Writer’s Group, author, Cleo Lampos.
Cleo Lampos is a retired school teacher with a love for history. After researching the Dust Bowl era for several years, she wrote the historical fiction, Dust Between the Stitches. An avid quilter and member of a quilting club in her hometown of Oak Lawn, Illinois, the history of quilt patterns is interwoven in this book. Lampos enjoys writing magazine articles as well as the six novels to her credit. Using her Master’s Degree in Special Education from St. Xavier University and 26 years of teaching, three of these novels are part of a series, The Teachers of Diamond Project School. Lampos is part of a community garden in her area, and helps her husband with an urban homestead on the South Side of Chicago. With great enjoyment, Lampos shares her knowledge of history with adult education classes at local community colleges and book clubs.
Cleo’s latest novel is, Dust Between the Stitches
Vibrant Addy Meyer wants nothing more than to teach children in the one-room school near her grandpa’s beet farm in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. But the 1930’s swirl with complications for this first-year teacher in rural Colorado. Between the Black Blizzards, the Board of Education, and the bank president, she is overwhelmed.
Addy falls in love with the orphans her grandfather adopted, and with her own students, but vows to guard her heart against the handsome drag line operator, Jess, with his suspicious past. Using her late grandmother’s patterns, Addy creates a quilt made from remnants and acquired swatches of feed sacks.
As the economy and impending foreclosure combine to destroy Addy and her grandfather’s futures, how can these scrapped lives ever be stitched into something coherent? From hurting and gritty people, Addy finds help and justice for her family.
Despair, dust and drought weave together with community to create the fabric of the Dust Bowl in muted earth tones punctuated by vivid threads of hope.
Here is an excerpt:
Addy glanced down at the crumpled paper in her hand and pressed it crinkly smooth against the gray wind-blown boards of the porch railing. Squinting her eyes against the blazing sun, she slid her moccasins through the fine dirt, raising tiny dust clouds around her ankles. She followed the scraggly path leading to the garden where she spotted Grandpa hoeing weeds between the rows of green beans. A wiry, thin gent with a shock of gray hair under his straw hat, Grandpa still maintained muscle mass in his biceps. His grip on the hoe remained firm and his attack on the weeds was sure.
Passing a scarecrow created from frayed garments, Addy chuckled to herself. A remnant from Kansas. Grandma always had a scarecrow, even here in Colorado. At the thought of her grandma, a pain stabbed her middle just like the way it did on the day she heard of grandma’s swift heart attack and death. One more loss, in a long chain of losses linked together. But she’d stop this one. She shook the paper as she gripped it tighter in her fist.
“Hey, there, Addy. I spotted you comin’. Mighty warm for September, ain’t it?” Grandpa straightened. “What’s that in your hand?”
“I think you have an idea. It’s from the bank in town.” She breathed in the air laced with fine rock residue, air that dehydrated one’s body and withered one’s soul.
He reached for the letter. “Probably addressed to me. Yep. Says George right here in the heading, not Addy. You takin’ over my mail now?” Smiling, he leaned on his hoe, but the tone in his voice conveyed a serious edge.
“Okay, chew me out for opening it. That letter says you have to come up with the back taxes for the bank will foreclose on you. Two thousand dollars. That’s a lot of money.” Addy waved the paper in front of his eyes. “Look.”
“I know what it says. They’s been sending those to a bunch of us farmers and ranchers around here. Don’t mean too much. They can’t take all of our homesteads, now, can they?”
Addy winced. “You know they can. They took my parents’ house and nearly the whole block we lived on back in Topeka. Yes, the bank will buy up every bit of the land you worked on all these years. It’s 1938 and the banks have just about foreclosed on the whole United States.”
“Why, I’ve known the bank president since Martha and me settled here ten years ago. He’s my friend.” Grandpa pulled off his straw hat and wiped his brow with a handkerchief.
“Don’t matter a bit, Grandpa. Banks have no hearts. But, I won’t let them take this land from you. I’ll find a way. Wait and see.” She pointed to a number at the bottom of the paper. “Two thousand dollars arrears. How could you get so far behind?” Addy paused to draw in her breath. “No more losses. I can’t lose one more thing. Not this farm.” Gritting her teeth in irritation, she seethed. She’d only been here for a week and now all this difficulty to face. Plus a new job.
“Just one dust storm after another. Dried up every crop I put in. Thinned out the herd so we hardly have enough cattle to sell to keep current. Jess Dettmann got me plantin’ sugar beets for a cash crop. He dug the irrigation ditches with his dragline as his room and board.” Grandpa cupped his hand over his eyes and gazed at acres of straight rows of beets that stretched out across the sandy soil. “We’ll see how much the crop is worth this fall.” He plopped the straw hat back over his thick gray hair.
“Yes. I just met this Jess person. Funny, you never talked about him. Gold digger, if you ask me.”
Grandpa paused, staring at her. “Didn’t ask you.” With that, he picked up his hoe and sliced the stem off a prickly weed.
Addy pressed her lips together so she wouldn’t say something she regretted. Shuffling back to the weathered house, she decided to water the raised bed garden. She pumped water into a galvanized watering can. Grandpa’s homestead was unusual for the area in the fact that he had a well in addition to a creek running on his property. In this decade of drought, it made all the difference between making it or losing everything. Every drop of liquid meant life. Addy carried the precious water to the thirsty plants until her arms ached and the agitation drained from her body.
Dust Between the Stitches is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Dust-Between-Stitches-Cleo-Lampos-ebook/dp/B01L94G7C0/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1480204041&sr=1-1&keywords=Dust+Between+the+Stitches+by+Cleo+Lampos
Cleo and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.