Friday, April 4, 2014

INTERVIEW WITH Heroine from Ellie’s Legacy by Ginger Simpson



RF=Roselle Fountain
INT = Interviewer

Our special guest this evening is Miss Roselle Fountain, the heroine from author, Ginger Simpson’s western historical, Ellie’s Legacy.  Welcome, Roselle. 

RF – *Fidgeting* Oh please call me Ellie.  I’ve never much identified with such a flowery name.  You probably can’t tell by the way I’m dressed today, but I’ve always been somewhat of a tomboy.

INT - *Laughing*.  So I’ve heard.  You look very nice in your flowered print—very much the lady.

RF – That’s Pa’s doing.  He insisted that if I was going to make an appearance, I needed to dress like a lady.  I’d much rather be wearing britches and boots. *Tugs at the neckline of her dress*.  These things are too danged uncomfortable at times.

INT – So, Ellie, tell the readers a little about Ellie’s Legacy.

RF – *Grins* Well, I can’t give away too much.  Ginger would skin me alive, but I’m sure she won’t mind me telling you that it’s got a little romance, a lot of western, and even more feistiness than her last historical romance.  It all starts when Pa hires Tyler Bishop as the ranch foreman.  I kinda figured Pa always wanted a son, and Ty proves me right. Their relationship gets me pretty riled up.  I have a bad temper at times… I think it comes from this red hair.  *pulls a strand of hair forward and smiles*.

INT – So, besides your being jealous of Ty, is there any adventure involved.

RF – Oh, you bet.  *Squares herself in her chair*.  The polecats that live on the neighboring ranch are aiming to get Fountainhead away from Pa.  Dude Bryant and his twin boys are meaner than snakes… well at least Dude and Jason are.  Joshua comes across as quiet and a follower.  But, *balls hands into fists* I’ll be danged if they’re gonna get my legacy.  I actually bought a gun and taught myself to shoot it. 

INT – A gun?  What do you plan to do with it?

RF – Protect Fountainhead of course.  I’m aim to show Pa he don’t need Tyler Bishop around when he has me.  I just wish that Ty wasn’t so dang good lookin’.

INT – I haven’t heard you mention your mother.  How does she feel about you owning a gun?

RF - *Lowers her eyes*.  My ma died when I was very young.  I suppose that’s why I took up with the ranch hands and spend so much time workin’ outdoors.  *Raises a steely gaze*.  But, now that Ty’s in the picture, Pa wants me to spend more time in the house doing womanly things.

INT – Would that be such a bad thing?

RF – Of course it would.  I don’t much care for cookin’ and cleanin’.  We have Cook for that.  I’d much rather brand a cow as fry one.

INT – So what about the romance part of the story?

RF – *Chews her bottom lip for a moment* I can’t tell you much more than I accompany Ty to a dance, but as usual, he gets my dander up there, too.  What happens from then on, you’ll have to find out for yourself.  I may look young and naïve, but I’m not silly enough to give away the whole story.  Miz Ginger is counting on sales to help pay for something called a root canal.  I wouldn’t want to let her down.

INT – I certainly wouldn’t want you to do that either.  You’ve given us enough of a teaser to stir some interest.  Hopefully we’ll see you on a best seller’s list somewhere.

RF – That would be right nice.  It just may happen cause remember, I have a gun.  *Slaps hip and fakes a draw*.

INT -  Well, here’s hoping you don’t have to use it.  *laughs*.  Thank you so much, Ellie for being with us today.  And good luck in the future.

RF – Oh, yeah.  I almost forgot to tell you that Ellie’s Legacy is available on Amazon, published by Books We Love.  I reckon the copies are available on something called the Innernet.  *pulls paper from pocket.*  Miz Ginger gave me this to read: www dot amazon dot com forward slash author forward slash gingersimpson.  It’s her page where you can see all her books.  I hope I got that right.


INT – Sounds fine to me. Thanks again, Ellie.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Inspiration for Geriatric Rebels

The idea of this book first came to me when my father was in a nursing home. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get
out of bed, but he did refuse to eat or take meds. After years of working as a tile setter, it had taken its toll and he suffered with arthritis in his knees and back, so much so that he wasn’t able to stand or walk. During several visits, I noticed a little old lady walk past his room. She always stopped and looked in. She never spoke, just looked at us for a minute and went on her way.
Something about her reminded me of my mother. Maybe it was her curly, silver hair, or her slight build. Whatever it was, she stuck in my mind and years later when I decided to write this story, she naturally came to mind.
This story actually had several different drafts. The original was a nonfiction assignment for a writing course I took. It was strictly about my father and his inability to get out of bed. From there it changed to fiction, and I brought Elsa into the story.  While Elsa is based on my mother – especially her love of playing jokes and her sense of humor, my mother predeceased my father by three years. And while Mike is based on my father, my dad didn’t have the same sense of humor. While I could picture my mother doing this stuff, even in a nursing home, I honestly couldn’t picture my dad. His sense of humor was much more sedate.
Where I came up with these ideas, I’m not quite sure. I think Mike and Elsa thought of them. The story just took off on its own and flowed. I love when a story does that.
Geriatric Rebels is the story of Mike and Elsa. Seventy-two year old, Mike, forced to stay in the nursing home for therapy, refuses to take his medicine, refuses to get out of bed, and won’t cooperate with the nurses. At least not until he meets Elsa. 
The spunky, seventy year old, Elsa was left in the home because her son took his family on a vacation. After an explosive meeting, she teams up with Mike and the nursing home is never the same. They become fast friends and later discover deception and fraud. Can the two find happiness together?
Published by Books We Love Publishing, Ltd. And available for 99 cents for a limited time from Amazon. Learn more about Roseanne Dowell’s books, check out her website: www.roseannedowell.com or her blog: http://roseannedowellauthor.blogspot.com/


EXCERPT:

Peeking around the corner into the dimly lit halls, Mike watched the pretty silver-haired lady slip into a dark room. What was she up to? He looked up and down the hall to make sure no one was around and followed her. Next thing he knew, he ran smack into her.
“Whoa,” she whispered. “Who are you? What are you doing here?”
“Maybe I should ask you that question,” Mike answered. “This isn’t your room.” A tiny little thing, she barely came up to his shoulders. She put her hands behind her back, and Mike chuckled. What was she hiding? “I’m night security,” he lied. “What’s behind your back?”
She lowered her head and brought out a water pitcher. “It was only a joke.”
Mike took her arm. “You better come with me.” He led her to the hall after a quick check to make sure it was still empty. “So you’re the one stealing the pitchers.”
She shivered and for a moment he felt sorry for her. What a mean trick, but he couldn’t help himself. He pushed open the exit door.
“Where are we going?” Elsa stiffened and tried to pull away. “Where are you taking me?”
 Her timid tone melted Mike. Time to confess. Damn, too late.
“Wait just a dog-gone minute.” She pulled away from him. “How do I know who you are? Where’s your uniform?  Show me some identification.” Although she spoke in whispers, the tone of her voice showed Mike she wasn’t buying his act.
Surprised by her sudden change of attitude, he stopped, raised his hands in surrender, and grinned at her.
“Who are you? Where do you think you’re taking me?” She glared at him with the lightest, bluest eyes he’d ever seen. Eyes that right now, he swore pierced into his.
 “You’re a burglar, aren’t you?” She tapped her foot and crossed her arms over her chest. “If you think for one minute, I’m going out that door with you, think again, buddy.”
Mike stifled a laugh, finding her amusing, obviously she didn’t trust him. Not that he blamed her, he did lie to her, and she didn’t know him from Adam. What did he expect?
“What were you doing in that room, buster, and if you don’t tell me who you are, I’m going to scream for help.”
“Okay, okay, quiet down.”  Hell, she meant business. “I was following you.” He tried to sound serious, but he couldn’t. He found the whole situation humorous. “My name is Mike Powell, room 110, but I don’t belong in this home.” He held out his hand toward her.
“Yeah, none of us belong here,” she scoffed. “Why were you following me?”
Since she ignored his outstretched hand, Mike lowered it. “I was curious to see where you were going in the middle of the night.”
“Humph.” Elsa tapped her foot. “So why are you here?”
“I fell and there wasn’t anyone to take care of me. My wife passed away three years ago, and I don’t have any children. So they threw me in here for therapy.”
“I never see you in therapy.”
“That’s ’cause I don’t need it anymore.”
“Humph. So how come you’re still here?”
“Nothing to go home to. I have more fun here. They don’t know I can get out of bed.”
“And just how did you pull that off?” Elsa seemed surprised to hear he had fooled the nurses into thinking he couldn’t get out of bed.
 “Simple, I refuse to get out of bed. Of course….” He combed his fingers through his thinning white hair and laughed. “They don’t know about my night time escapades.
“Ah, I know who you are. You’re that difficult man. I hear them talking about. You don’t eat, refuse to take your medicine, or even get out of bed. They call you the ‘Geriatric Rebel’.”
Mike chuckled. He liked the sound of her voice, musical, not raspy or whiney like the other women here. “So why are you here?” he asked. “You don’t seem like the typical resident.”
“Humph, kids are on vacation and don’t want to bother with me. I’m Elsa Logan, by the way.” Elsa turned away. “I better get back. Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow.” She left him standing in the hall.
A quiver of something familiar went through him as she disappeared down the hall and into her room.
***
Mike sighed as Doris’s soft hands slid over his forehead and soothed him. He liked her voice, soft, sweet, almost sing-songy. But no amount of cooing was going to make him get out of this bed. You would think after a month of trying, she’d give up. The others had.
“Come on, Mike, you know it’s not good to lay here like this.”
 He squeezed his eyes closed ignoring her, wishing her away.
“Just leave me alone!”
“Okay, Mike, but you’re not doing yourself any good.” Doris left and closed the door. Guilt gnawed at him the minute the words came out of his mouth. He shouldn’t have yelled at her like that, she was one of the few nurses in the home who bothered with him, and he savored the pampering. She’d been coaxing him to get up to socialize for a month. Sure, socialize, like half the residents here would even remember. Except Elsa.
Elsa with her curly silver hair, quick temper, beautiful smile and bright blue eyes, he closed his eyes, remembering the previous night.
 Mike smiled at the memory. He couldn’t wait to see her again. He napped off and on throughout the day to help pass the time. Finally, they dimmed the lights. Now was his chance. He sneaked into the hall, and there she was peeking out of her room. Was she looking for him? He hoped.
 “Hi, Elsa.” Strange, he felt shy with her. He’d never been shy a day in his life. Not with his wife, not with anyone. Never one to mind getting up in a crowd to speak, this shyness made him uncomfortable. “Want to go for a walk?”
She gestured for him to lead the way.
“Wait, how are we going to get back in?” Elsa stopped and pulled him back at the exit.
“Don’t worry, the door doesn’t lock. Look.” He went out, pulled the door closed and then pushed it open. “”Come on.” He led her out to the parking lot.
“How come the alarm didn’t go off?”
“I disabled it and jimmied the lock.”
She stumbled as she hurried to keep up with him. “Do you think you could slow down a little?”
He waited for her to catch up.  “Sorry, I forget old people can’t keep up with me.” He took her hand. Something about her brought out his playful side, a side long forgotten.
“Who are you calling old, you blustery old fool?” She pulled her hand away, planted it on her hip, and glared at him.
This was definitely a woman to reckon with “You’re really pretty when you’re mad.”
“Humph.” She furrowed her brow and stepped away from him.
Uh, oh he had pushed her too far, but he couldn’t help teasing her, he felt so alive.
 “I’ll show you mad.” Elsa swung her fist, just missing him.
“Hey, I was joking.” He grabbed her hand.  “Truce?”
She pulled her hand away but gave him an agreeable nod. They stepped out into the parking lot and to a clump of trees.
“This is my special place.” He led her beyond the trees to a small grassy area.  “It’s where I come when I want to get away from them.” He nodded toward the home.
Elsa sat on the grass next to him. “It’s like a million miles away from them isn’t it? It’s been a long time since I’ve been out in the evening. Thank you for bringing me here.”
 Mike stroked the back of her hand, enjoying the intimacy of the moment. “Why do you steal the water pitchers?” He couldn’t help being curious about the soft-spoken, petite woman with the quick temper, who invoked feelings he hadn’t felt since his wife died
“Just for the fun of it- I get bored. Besides, I can’t sleep at night.” She shrugged
“I took the nurses’ lunches a couple of times,” he said, “but usually I just come out here.”
“That was you?” Elsa giggled. “They talked about it for weeks. Boy, were they mad.”
 Mike liked the youthful sound of her laugh He suddenly felt young and mischievous. “Let’s go back and fill their coffeepot with ice.” He squeezed her hand as he helped her up.
Pushing the door open a crack, he looked down the hall. “Okay, coast is clear, come on.” He led Elsa to the break room, looked inside. Empty. He motioned her inside and followed her in.
“Stand guard, while I fill the coffee pot.” Mike couldn’t help but laugh as he dumped a couple of containers of ice into the pot. “That should do it.”
They laughed so hard, he was afraid they’d get caught. Elsa shushed Mike as they walked to her room. He hugged her goodnight. Warmth surged through him like a tidal wave when she hugged him back. He hurried back to his room, feeling more alive than he had in years.
 Maybe I’ll get up tomorrow, he thought. He chuckled, remembering their conversation, ‘Geriatric Rebel’ they have no idea. He sighed before he fell asleep.


Interview with Cecile Palmer Williams from Destiny's Bride by Ginger Simpson



Today we have a special guest, Cecile Palmer Williams, the heroine from Destiny's Bride, by author, Ginger Simpson.
 
Welcome Cecile. It’s nice to have you with us. I have some questions to ask for our guests about your role in this exciting western historical romance, so let's dig right in.

INT: How in the world did you ever convince your rigid father to allow you to marry a virtual stranger?

CECILE: *Squaring in her chair* You have to remember that back in the olden days, women married young, and sometimes even without the benefit of knowing their groom. Mail order brides were common so I think my father considered that, by some standards, I was well past marrying age and could make my own decisions. Walt simply swept me off my feet and I would have gone anywhere with him. *She smiles with a cocked head*

INT: I read, with great interest, how you perceived your new ‘home’. That must have been a terrible revelation.

CECILE: *Swipes hand across her brow* Oh, you have no idea. Walt had described the perfect setting; he just failed to tell me that he hadn’t yet built a suitable home. My skin was gray from dirt for days… trying to sweep that horrid shack with half a broom someone left behind.  And to be perfectly honest… I didn’t know a thing about keeping house. I guess some might say I was spoiled by my parents. *smile*

INT: I’ll bet you were scared to death when Walt left you alone while he traveled for winter supplies. How did you handle the fear?

CECILE: It wasn’t easy, but someone had to stay behind and tend the animals. *Runs a hand through her long hair*. I never realized how many noises there are once the sun goes down. I just prayed that the lock on that old weathered door worked good enough to keep me safe. God knows, I know nothing about using a weapon. I think if I hadn’t been so exhausted from all the chores everyday, I would have had trouble sleeping. I got used to being alone after a few nights, but I still didn’t like it.

INT: The book couldn’t possibly have captured the terror you experienced when Lone Eagle collapsed in front of you. Tell us how that felt.

CECILE: My heart leapt clear up here *clasping throat*. You understand, I’d never seen an Indian before and I expected to look up into the face of my beloved husband. I thought for sure I was going to die, but Lone Eagle fell in a heap at my feet. Lordy, my heart raced... all those stories I'd heard about scalping and such.

INT: So, of course, being a good person, you did the right thing and nursed him back to health…

CECILE: Of course. I don’t think I could have lived with myself if I’d just let him die. In the end it turned out well for me, but I don’t want to divulge too much to those who haven’t read Destiny's Bride   I would like to address one person's concern about me leaving my home without searching for my husband.  You have to remember, I didn't have any idea where I was or how to get back to Silver City.  I could have either stayed and died of hunger or cold, so I elected what was best for me and the baby I presumed I expected.  You might say we saved one another.

INT: I think you did.  As for your decision, things we so much different in those days.  It's not like you had a car and could drive around looking for Walt. *chuckles*

CECILE:  Car?  What's that?  *Raises brow*

INT: It's a long story.  I'll have to explain after the interview...so without asking questions that reveal the novel's outcome to the readers, I’ll just inquire what life was like in 1867.

CECILE: Oh goodness. *shuddering*. There was a wagon load of difference between my life in Silver City and moving to the prairie with Walt. In town, we bought everything we needed from the mercantile. Mother baked once in a while and cooked delicious meals, but we never had to put up our own vegetables. I was flabbergasted when Walt talked about the garden and the tomatoes, corn and other things we’d grow. I sure never expected that I’d be outside hammering nails in a dilapidated old barn, let alone milking a cow. I think the most frightening experience at first was that darned rooster. Who would have thought that something so small could terrify a body like he did?

INT: *glances at watch* Well, I see we’re out of time, but I truly want to thank you for being our guest. I'm sure that fearing your husband dead, watching an Indian drop at your feet and having to make the difficult decisions you face presented some difficult challenges.  Destiny's Bride was certainly was a page turner for me. Can we look forward to a sequel?

CECILE: Well, as you know, Destiny's Bride is a re-release of Ginger’s 2003 debut novel with another publisher. She’s really improved how the story flows, and I can only hint that you might visit her website to see if anything looks like a continuation of the story. You can find her at http://www.gingersimpson.com and I can give you a hint. Remember Lone Eagle is Lakota Sioux.   I think the title has something to do with the color of skin and heart.  *giggles*

INT: Thanks again, Cecile. This has been fun. Hopefully your fans will Amazon and purchase their own copy of Destiny's Bride.  I believe all her books are on an author's page:  http://www.amazon.com/author/gingersimpson

CECILE: One can only hope readers found this interesting. I know Ginger needs liposuction on her hips and a neck lift, and that's just the emergency necessities.  Poor dear, growing old has its own challenges and every purchase helps with the expense.   Thanks for inviting me to visit with you…  Oh, and Ginger also has a western blog at http://cowboykisses.blogspot.com.  Now...can you tell me about that thing you called a car?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

HOW TO ADD SUSPENSE TO YOUR NOVEL



September 13, 2010 | Elizabeth Sims | Comments: 0
September 13, 2010, Elizabeth Sims blogged ‘How to add suspense to your novel.’  It’s a well-written blog by an author I’ve grown to enjoy.  I’ve ‘blog hi-jacked’ her article.
Just as eating a balanced diet requires an endless series of good choices, so does writing a successful mystery. And just like anyone else, we authors are constantly tempted by junk. It’s true: When crafting a story or chapter, you can opt for the cheap, first-thing-to-hand alternative, or you can push yourself toward something that may be less convenient, but that will ultimately be more fulfilling for both you and your readers.
Think of it this way: As an author, you’re feeding your readers. Those readers come to a mystery hungry for certain elements, and they expect to feel satisfied at the end. They don’t want formulaic, predictable stories that are the equivalent of fast food; they want substance, flavor, verve and originality. If you want to keep them coming back for seconds, you need to nourish them with quality prose, cooked up with skill and caring.
Here’s how to make smart choices in your writing (with apologies to the Eat This, Not That diet book) when it comes to the five key ingredients readers expect from a juicy mystery.
1. COINCIDENCES
A coincidence that arises organically from a solid plot.
EXAMPLE: In Richard Condon’s The Manchurian Candidate, a crucial plot point is protagonist Ben Marco finding out that he isn’t the only member of his platoon having strange recurrent nightmares about garden club ladies who morph into Communist officers. This is key because it’s the first evidence that the soldiers have been brainwashed. Condon crafted the story so that Marco learns of another soldier’s dreams when his platoon leader, Raymond Shaw, mentions a letter he received from the soldier. Better still, when Shaw reveals the key information in the letter, he does so without realizing its significance. The reader puts two and two together, right along with Marco—and is completely hooked. If Marco had just happened to meet another nightmare sufferer somehow, readers may have had a hard time suspending their disbelief.
A contrived coincidence that has nothing to do with what came before.
A prime example is the off-duty detective who just happens to be walking past the abandoned warehouse at the precise moment the torture gets going on the abducted coed.

HOW TO DO IT:
Mystery writers are constantly tempted to solve a plot problem by putting in a coincidence. After all, mysteries tend to have complex plots, and complex plots are challenging to write.
Fortunately, readers love coincidences—provided they work. Life is full of real ones, so to turn your back on them in your writing would be to reject a reasonable plotting technique. The key is to generate realistic coincidences rather than contrived ones that will leave readers rolling their eyes. So how do you do it?
You’ll find that organic coincidences will suggest themselves if you populate your story with enough strong, varied characters. Let’s say you have a damsel in distress—that coed in the warehouse, bound and gagged by the bad guy. You need this exciting scene; your plot relies on her survival. Some of your most interesting possibilities hinge on the characters themselves. Take the bad guy, for instance. What if there’s more than one? What if one of them is holding a secret grudge against the leader? Can you immediately see where this could go?
Or, rather than drawing on your villains, say you want a hero to stop by and bust up the party. Make this more than a ploy to get your damsel out of trouble: Make it a real subplot that twines throughout the story.
For example, perhaps the building has been scheduled for an inspection. The inspector knows the building is a blight and has been fighting with the mayor to get it torn down; the bad guy knows the building is a perfect hideout. The plots about the inspector and the bad guy (who, let’s say, were best friends in high school but haven’t met in years) can be parallel and separate, with the building being the piece in common. This way, you can make both characters converge on the scene at the same time, resulting in a natural coincidence. Written just so, the arrival of the building inspector with the bolt cutters will make readers slap their foreheads and go, “Oh, yeah, the building inspection! Oh boy, what’s gonna happen next?”
2. DYNAMIC DESCRIPTIONS
A description based in unconventional comparison.
EXAMPLE: “More cop cars pulled up, more cops came in, until it looked like they’d been spread on with a knife.” (This from my first novel, Holy Hell.)
A description you’ve read a dozen times: “The place was crawling with cops.”
I almost think I became a crime fiction author so I could write books without using the sentence, “The place was crawling with cops,” thus proving it can be done.
HOW TO DO IT: I believe many aspiring mystery writers fall into clichéd descriptions because of the genre’s deep roots in pulp, work-for-hire and cheap magazines. These outlets served, it must be admitted, less-than-discriminating audiences. (The Twinkie eaters of mystery readers, metaphorically.) Today’s mystery readers demand better.
Constantly be on the lookout for clichés in your writing. Welcome the occurrence of a cliché in your rough draft, because now you’ve got an opportunity to show off!
I learned from bestselling author Betty MacDonald (The Egg and I, among other golden oldies) to compare people with nonhuman entities, and nonhuman entities with people. She wrote things like, “As evening fell, the mountain settled her skirts over the forest.” That’s a great technique, a terrific cliché-buster.
Let’s say you’re describing a man who storms into a room, and you just wrote, “He was like a bull in a china shop.” You stop in horror, hand to your mouth with the realization: I have just written a cliché.
Brainstorm other comparisons as well as other contexts for your description. What if he was like a garbage truck with no brakes? What if he was like a ballplayer driven insane by the worst call he’d ever seen? What if (simply describing what he does) he tears off his shirt, and the sound of the popping buttons is like a burst from an Uzi?
3. FALSE CLUES
A red herring that’s built into the plot from the get-go.
EXAMPLE: Agatha Christie did it beautifully in her famous short story “The Witness for the Prosecution,” which later became a classic Billy Wilder film. The protagonist, Leonard Vole, is on trial for murder. He’s a sympathetic character, and you find yourself rooting for him from the beginning. The evidence against him is circumstantial but heavy; even his wife testifies against him.
The wife is the red herring. She appears to be trying to send him to jail; she says she hates him and presents marvelous evidence for the prosecution. You begin to focus on her, wondering, gosh, what’s her angle? Dame Agatha stokes your high suspicion. All of a sudden, however, Mrs. Vole’s testimony is discredited, and Vole goes free. Aha, you think, I was right: She had it in for him!
But then (spoiler alert!), in a wonderful twisted ending, the wife reveals that she’d been working for that result all along; she herself provided the discrediting evidence, knowing the jury would be more easily manipulated that way. We learn that Vole had indeed committed the murder. Because our attention had been drawn to the wife, the heart-clutching moment when we learn of Vole’s guilt is the stuff mystery readers long for.
A false clue that’s isolated.
In too many amateur mysteries, we get red herrings like a creepy next-door neighbor who turns out to be a good guy. You know you’re being cheaply manipulated when you realize the neighbor has nothing to do with the plot; he appears solely to frighten us from time to time.
HOW TO DO IT: Mystery writers are always in need of red herrings to shake readers off the scent. A terrific test for these false clues is to ask yourself: “If I removed this clue from the story, would I have to change anything else to accommodate the cut?” If the answer is no, you’ve got some work to do.
Let’s say you’ve got multiple suspects in your murder mystery. One is the proverbial creepy next-door neighbor who someone reports having heard arguing with the victim the night of the crime (of course, he’ll later be revealed to be innocent). This is a typical false clue to plant; readers have seen it before. So, why not expand the clue to give it some deeper roots—say, by making the argument part of a long-running feud, one that’s now taken up by the victim’s family members who’ve shown up for the funeral? Suddenly this isn’t an isolated clue, but a part of the story.
You might also further consider the neighbor character himself. What if he is revealed to have been the victim’s first husband? Did he kill her out of jealousy? Or did he rent the house next door so that he could protect her because he loved her so truly? Characterizations like this can turn an ordinary red herring into a satisfying subplot.

September 13, 2010, Elizabeth Sims blogged ‘How to add suspense to your novel.’ 
4. ACTION-PACKED DIALOGUE
Dialogue that arises from action, emotion or necessity.
EXAMPLE: One of my favorite Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories is the Sherlock Holmes novel The Valley of Fear, which is packed with textbook dialogue. Here’s the character Jack McMurdo responding with calculated disbelief to a workingman’s offhanded comment that a gang called the Scowrers is a murderous bunch. Thus he goads the man into giving him specifics:
The young man [McMurdo] stared. “Why, I am a member of that order myself.”
“You! I vould never had had you in my house if I had known it …”
“What’s wrong with the order? It’s for charity and good fellowship. The rules say so.”
“Maybe in some places. Not here!”
“What is it here?”
“It’s a murder society, that’s vat it is.”
McMurdo laughed incredulously. “How can you prove that?” he asked.
“Prove it! Are there not 50 murders to prove it? Vat about Milman and Van Shorst, and the Nicholson family. … Prove it! Is there a man or a voman in this valley vat does not know it?” …
“That’s just gossip—I want proof!” said McMurdo.
“If you live here long enough, you vill get your proof.”
Not only does this passage give McMurdo the information he’s looking for, it also advances the story in a natural way.
Dialogue in which one character tells another something they both already know, just so the reader can know it as well.
We’ve all read stuff like this:
Hero: “Hurry! We’ve got to move fast!”
Sidekick: “How come?”
Hero: “Because we’ve got to sabotage that convoy!”
Sidekick: “You mean the one that’s carrying 40,000 gallons of deadly radioactive bacteria straight toward the vulnerable entry point in the New York City water system?”
Hero: “Exactly! Yes!”
Ludicrous, no?
HOW TO DO IT: Weak dialogue in mystery can often be pinned on the easy habit of telling too much too soon. Did you notice that in the above example, McMurdo learns a lot (and tells a lot about himself) simply from the way he reacts to something the other man said? Having a character make friends with another for a specific purpose can work well; the reader can pick up on the manipulation and enjoy it.
Masterful writers have long known that emotion is a great dialogue engine. When a character is outraged, or dying to get laid, or seeking pity or admiration, that’s when she might let something slip, or unleash a whole tirade, which can trigger explosive action, be it a counter-tirade from another character, violence, flight, you name it.
You can engineer a juicy hunk of dialogue by writing down the result you want, then setting up a convincing sequence of events for the characters to reach that point. Expect dialogue to be a springboard for your characters.
And finally, here’s a rule of thumb I’ve found transformative: When in doubt, cut the talk.
5. CHARACTER MOTIVATIONS
Characters motivated by almost unbearable forces.
EXAMPLE: In “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs, one of the most perfect short stories ever written—and one of the scariest—maternal grief is the reason Mrs. White interferes with fate and meddles with the terrible three-wish charm.
After receiving this supposedly magic paw and wishing upon it for 200 pounds sterling, she and her husband come into the money, but they are horrified to get it as compensation for the death of their son Herbert, who is mangled to death at work. Mrs. White, deep in grief, begs her husband to wish upon the paw for their son to be alive again. He reluctantly does so. But he had seen what was left of Herbert—who has been in his grave for a week—and now something is pounding at the front door, and there’s one more wish left in the paw.
Character motivation that boils down to … not enough.
“So, exactly why is this character risking his marriage, his children and his career as a doctor by serially murdering mafia chieftains?” I once asked a student in a mentoring session.
“Um, see, he wants to keep the streets safe.”
Wanting to help strangers may be a plausible motivation for lying, but not for murder.
HOW TO DO IT: Making your characters take drastic risks is good, but this works only if their motivations are rock-solid. In fact, the biggest favor a good agent or editor or writing group will do for you is challenge your character motivations. Internal motivation can work, but external motivation is better.
For example, it’s conceivable a cop or a P.I. could risk his life to find the truth because he loves the truth—but if the truth involves finding out why his partner was murdered in cold blood, as Sam Spade felt driven to do in Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, now you’ve got something.
Do like Hammett did: Combine motivating factors. Not simply love, not simply money, but love and money. Hate and glory. Envy and shame. Sex and loss.
The possibilities are limitless. And, as with so many of the healthy writing choices listed above, you’ll find substantial combinations to be much more satisfying than quick and easy fixes. Feed your readers with them well, and they’ll keep coming back for more.


Monday, March 31, 2014

Callie Johnson speaks out


Hi, I'm Callie Johnson, heroine of All in the Family. I'm a cop. Well, I was a cop until the Mayor of Smytheville called and told me Jim Landry, the current Police Chief, was retiring and did I want the job. Did
I? Talk about a dream come true. I'd wanted to come back to Smytheville for some time. Big city life wasn't what it was cracked up to be. Besides, I missed my family, crazy as they were. So of course I accepted. 
I really thought coming back to Smytheville as the new Chief of Police would be a piece of cake. I mean, really, nothing much happens in a small town. At least that’s what I thought. Boy was I in for a surprise. One of the first things I ran into was my grandmother had been arrested. For murder, no less.
Not that the present chief believed it. Not for a minute. Besides Gram being a judge, the chief was sweet on her. He’d been trying to talk her into retiring for a long time, but Gram wouldn’t budge.
Of course, it didn’t faze her a bit bugging me to get married. Her, everyone, and their brother. Especially my aunts. One in particular. Aunt Beatrice Lulu. She fixed me up with every single man she came across. How she managed to talk them into meeting me, I’ll never know. Thing is, even though she vouched for them, she never bothered to check them out.   One was even married. Did that stop her? Not a bit.
No matter how I begged, she wouldn’t quit. Encouraged by her sisters, Aunt Emma and Aunt Lottie, she continued to insist I meet these men. Even after I told them I met someone, she still wouldn’t brought them around.
My aunts are something else. Actually the whole family is. From my grandmother, mother, to my sister. But the aunts, well, let’s just say they’re special. A more fun loving group you’ll never find. The things those ladies think to do. But I can’t say more because I don’t want to spoil the book.
Back to me thinking being Police Chief was going to be easy – I couldn’t have been more wrong. From vandalism to kidnapping, from drunk and disorderly to murder, even an attack on me, I had my work cut out for me.
All in the Family is available from Amazon

To learn more about me and my books check out my website – www.roseannedowell.com or my blog – http://roseannedowellauthor.blogspot.com  

Settling In by Randall Sawka

  Find this title at Amazon The summer winds have blown us to our new home in the heart of downtown Toronto. Nancy and I are both...