I decided to start writing novels in 2005 when I histiocytoma dog bleeding accidentally read a romance novel. I thought I was getting a vampire fiction book and histiocytoma dog bleeding I wasn’t prepared for the laughs and the love, but it was such a great accident. I immediately realized that’s what I wanted to write. Swoons, strong women, laughs, and happily ever afters. I wanted to write something that would make me smile.
But there’s always been this other side of me obsessed with histiocytoma dog bleeding crime and mysteries. Don’t worry, not committing crime. I’ve been reading about serial killers since I was young histiocytoma dog bleeding enough for it to be a bit concerning. When no one was looking in the bookstore, I’d read serial killer encyclopedias while being careful not to histiocytoma dog bleeding crack the spines. I’ve taken forensic anthropology classes, watched a gazillion hours of crime dramas, and toured prisons and creepy places on vacations.
In case you, like me a few months ago, aren’t well-versed on the cozy front, let me help! Widely accepted commonalities among (most) cozies are an amateur sleuth as the main character; they often set in a small town or small part histiocytoma dog bleeding of a big city with wacky characters; many involve food, crafts or animals in their theme; and they don’t include graphic descriptions (of the violent or sexy kinds) or profanity. The hook/theme of the book often has almost as much real histiocytoma dog bleeding estate on the pages as the mystery itself. Plus, the crime gets wrapped up by the end. Lots of them even include an ongoing romance. There are always exceptions to a genre definition, but this covers what I usually see in the genre histiocytoma dog bleeding expectations.
I love that you can get to know some zany histiocytoma dog bleeding characters that come back each book, while also being able to mix up a sub-setting in each book. For example, the cozy series might be set in a small town histiocytoma dog bleeding in western oregon. The town is there in each book, but one book might be set at a rodeo and histiocytoma dog bleeding another involving a theater production. There are endless possibilities of where to take the characters!
It was a well-timed decision on her part, plot-wise. I’m at the act two/act three transition point, where the protagonist has to pass through her second doorway histiocytoma dog bleeding of no return. This choice she made, seemingly without my input, will raise the stakes for her exponentially, increasing the risks to her relationships and her reputation. It’s something only she can do, and if she doesn’t do it, there are risks to other people’s well-being. It’s a choice between two “bads.” (meanwhile, in her romantic life she’s struggling with the choice between “goods.”)
I keep chapter notes as I go, something like a hindsight outline, noting mae’s goal for each chapter and scene (I’m writing third person but only in her POV), the disaster or hook at the end, the loose ends each chapter has created that will need histiocytoma dog bleeding to be tied up, and the progress in the main plot and subplots. I suppose I can consider some of those notes a histiocytoma dog bleeding plan, since a few are quick sketches of what I can histiocytoma dog bleeding see coming next, but I can’t see very far ahead. Some parts of the original version have found their way histiocytoma dog bleeding almost whole into this revision, and others still might. I wonder if the end will. I liked it the first time around, but it may no longer fit. One of the biggest mysteries in writing a mystery is histiocytoma dog bleeding how my creative mind works.
A character in the work in progress used a phrase histiocytoma dog bleeding I didn’t expect him to say, referring to certain people as his and mae’s “shadow families.” in the middle of the night, I realized that could be the title. It fits the plot and also the pattern of my histiocytoma dog bleeding titles: two words with a mysterious ring to them, suited to psychic mysteries without murder. The calling, shaman’s blues, snake face, soul loss, ghost sickness, death omen … shadow family?
Shandra higheagle, while having the love of the outdoors and making pottery histiocytoma dog bleeding from clay she digs on the mountain where she lives, she grew up in a white world and is only histiocytoma dog bleeding now learning how deep her roots go in the earth. And because of this, she is easier for me to write because I can histiocytoma dog bleeding include my wonder of the nez perce and their culture histiocytoma dog bleeding to be reflected in her as she is coming to histiocytoma dog bleeding know more about her family.
When I sit down to write a book, depending on the genre, I have to mentally put myself in that time and histiocytoma dog bleeding place to make sure I give the best accounting of histiocytoma dog bleeding the events that are happening and told through my characters’ eyes and emotions. If you read a book from each of the genres histiocytoma dog bleeding I write, you will see there is a bit of difference in histiocytoma dog bleeding voice because I am trying to show the story through histiocytoma dog bleeding their eyes and not mine. But some of my emotions- such as my need to show injustice – will come through in every main character.
Word choice as I commented on earlier, has to do with making sure the word is true histiocytoma dog bleeding to the time and the occupation of a character or histiocytoma dog bleeding knowing what I am talking about. I don’t know how many western romance books- contemporary and historical – I stopped reading because a character grabbed a fetlock to histiocytoma dog bleeding swing up onto a horse’s back, or they grabbed the cantle as the horse started galloping. Or what really had me tossing a book…they put the halter on the horse and slid the histiocytoma dog bleeding bridle into its mouth. The writer needs to know what they are writing about. If they don’t know, they need to look it up. I spend a third of my writing time looking things histiocytoma dog bleeding up. Even if I think I know it, I still look it up to be sure. And while I’m looking it up, I might find a better word that makes the scene histiocytoma dog bleeding sound even more convincing.
I have been accused – and pretty much rightly so – of being a luddite. Technology for the sake of technology has never attracted me, especially when it interferes with my life. Now I love my computer, love the ease of word processing, love the ability to publish both ebooks and paperbacks with histiocytoma dog bleeding the tap of a finger. That’s practical and useful.
By contrast I do hate telephones. And every day I hate them more. Not really telephones, per se, but telemarketers and most especially robocalls. Just what makes these people believe they have the right histiocytoma dog bleeding to interrupt what I am doing at any given moment histiocytoma dog bleeding and use an instrument and a service for which I histiocytoma dog bleeding am paying to advertise their wares, which I neither need nor want? It’s also insulting for them to imply that if I histiocytoma dog bleeding do need/want something I am not smart enough to go find histiocytoma dog bleeding whatever it might be by myself, that I need them to bring it to me.
Robocalls are the worst. You can’t even get the satisfaction of reaming out the caller, and since they don’t give you a phone number (at least, I never stay on the line long enough to find histiocytoma dog bleeding out if they do) there’s no way to report them to the national do histiocytoma dog bleeding not call list. Which is a joke – a bad joke – anyway. When it first came out I was religious about reporting histiocytoma dog bleeding every single unwanted call – which might have made me feel righteous, but which did absolutely no good. As a taxpayer I am furious that my tax money histiocytoma dog bleeding (for which I work very hard) is being spent on something that does nothing. (which, when expanded, becomes a whole other post, probably unacceptably political.)
I don’t respond to robocalls. As soon as I realize that it is a robocall histiocytoma dog bleeding I hang up, and I don’t care from whom it comes. It’s taken me a couple of years, but finally I have my doctor and my dentist trained histiocytoma dog bleeding that if they want to communicate with me, they don’t do it through a robocall. My dentist emails me, and my doctor has her office receptionist call directly, both of which are infinitely more civilized and human systems histiocytoma dog bleeding than a robocall. I don’t talk to robots.
Of course, I could just turn off the phones when I’m working, but aside from the fact there are elderly people in histiocytoma dog bleeding our family for whom I am responsible and need to histiocytoma dog bleeding be available to them, WHY should I have to? It is my telephone, my line… in order to get my work done why should I histiocytoma dog bleeding be forced to deprive myself of a convenience for which histiocytoma dog bleeding I am paying? If congress really wanted to help the american people, they would make all sales, charity and political calls – in other words, all solicitation calls – illegal and back it up with gigantic penalties/sentences for offenders.
As a mystery writer with a definitely twisted mind, I cannot help but dream of ways to get my histiocytoma dog bleeding own back on those unwanted robocalls, especially when they yank me away from something important. So far the best (and least bloody) idea I’ve had is a disrupter. Remember back in the early days of answering machines when histiocytoma dog bleeding you carried around a plastic box about the size of histiocytoma dog bleeding a package of cigarettes? When you wanted to check your messages you’d call your phone and after the outgoing message began histiocytoma dog bleeding you’d hold the box next to the mouthpiece, press a button and your messages would play. I dream of a similar set-up, but with my idea when the robocall begins, you press your disrupter device and the robocall machine burns histiocytoma dog bleeding out, unfixable and never to be used again.
Of course, there would be dangers, like could the disrupter signal be traced back to the histiocytoma dog bleeding call it was making when the call machine imploded – i.E., to my phone number? However – I know we have the technology to make such a histiocytoma dog bleeding disrupter, so I can only hope that the technology also exists histiocytoma dog bleeding to protect the poor inundated recipient of such calls who histiocytoma dog bleeding has been driven to madness because of such unwanted interruptions. Sigh. Hopefully someday. Whoever invents such a device will make a fortune. And in my opinion, use of such a device would be guilt-free. I am on every no-call list that exists, and if the offender ignores the law to try and histiocytoma dog bleeding sell me something, why shouldn’t I be able to ignore a law to protect histiocytoma dog bleeding my privacy?
I repeat – I pay for my telephone service and instrument because I histiocytoma dog bleeding want a way to contact and be contacted by those histiocytoma dog bleeding with whom I wish to talk – not to provide a free venue for strangers to try histiocytoma dog bleeding and sell me something I neither need nor want. Surely there is at least one mystery plot somewhere in histiocytoma dog bleeding this muddle of obtrusive criminal (yes, criminal – they steal my time and use of my line and histiocytoma dog bleeding instrument) vs telephone owner. Perhaps if everyone wrote one the telemarketers/robocall bosses might get the idea we’re mad as h*ll and won’t take it any more!
An advantage of outline is that once that’s in place, the actual writing is easy. With an outline, I don’t have to think hard about what should be in histiocytoma dog bleeding the scene. Once I start writing, it begins to flow and gets easier. When I start building the characters and watching how the histiocytoma dog bleeding scene plays out and adding comic bits, I’m motivated to keep going. Like swimming, the initial plunge into the pool takes the most effort.
The first months of this year, for me, had many distractions, including house repairs and cat health and working on a histiocytoma dog bleeding big teaching project. Now that’s all out of the way—for now—and I have no more excuses. I finally picked up the clipboard (my first drafts are in longhand) and began the second book in the psychedelic spy retro-cozy series. After all, one can’t have a series with only one book.
Now that I’ve started one project, I’m ending another. This is my last regular post on ladies of mystery. I’ve enjoyed being part of the blog, but my writing time is limited. Along with my day job and housework, I also write a newspaper column and contribute to my histiocytoma dog bleeding parish. I need more time to focus on my books. After the new book is finished I want to write histiocytoma dog bleeding another sandy fairfax book along with a non-mystery novel that’s been kicking around in my head for years. So many ideas, so little time.
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