Author: Roberta (Page 1 of 42)

#BookBeginnings Shamed by Linda Castillo

I’m reading this month’s pick by our library’s mystery discussion group, Shamed by Linda Castillo, for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!

 

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Shamed by Linda Castillo

Summary:  The 11th novel in the Kate Burkholder series starts with the murder of an Amish grandmother. Soon Kate earns that the woman’s seven-year-old granddaughter is missing. Kate sets off in a race against time to find the girl, but discovers the family, upstanding and respected members of the Amish community, are not telling her all that they know.

First Sentence Prologue:

No one went to the old Schattenbaum place anymore. No one had lived there since the flood back in 1969 washed away the crops and swept the outhouse and one of the barns into Painters Creek.

Love how the sense of place is evoked with the names.

First Sentence:

You see a lot of things when you’re the chief of police in a small town. Things most other people don’t know about — don’t want to know about — and are probably better off for it.

Discussion:

The prologue is in third person with past tense verbs, which gives it a bit of narrative distance. That’s good because  is about the murder, which is quite gruesome. The rest is mostly told in the first person from the point of view of the protagonist Kate Burkholder and present tense, which feels really immediate. I admire anyone who can write in the present tense. It pulls you in and speeds right along.

56

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice. The premise is simple. Turn to page 56 in the book and pick a quote.

 

The younger man’s eyes dart left and right, as if he’s looking for an escape route in case I attack. He’s just realized where this is going and he doesn’t like it.

When I was looking for the quote, I realized Castillo sprinkles in many words of Deitsch, the language of the Amish.

What do you think? Have you read any books by Linda Castillo?

#amwriting Writers’ League of Texas

Looking for some inspiration and camaraderie? Check out the Writers’ League of Texas.

I know, I know. There are too many online opportunities already, but you can tell this is a fun group from their welcome video.

See what I mean?

They have:

Let me know if you decide to give it a try.

 

 

#BookBeginnings Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

Let’s take a look at Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!

 

book-beginnings-Gershkowitz

Magpie Murders* by Anthony Horowitz

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

 

A few weeks ago  I dipped my toe into metafiction with The Eighth Detective.  It is an interesting take on a mystery novel, so I dug up another example. Anthony Horowitz has been dabbling in metafiction mystery novels lately, mixing fictional reality and fictional fiction in interesting ways.

Summary:  Alan  Conway writes wildly successful British mysteries featuring detective Atticus Pünd. When his editor, Susan Ryeland, begins to read his newest manuscript, she becomes suspicious there’s more to the story than has been found in the earlier books, one that might involve a real murder.

First Sentence of Magpie Murders by Anthony Horwitz

A bottle of wine. A family-sized packet of Nacho Cheese Flavoured Tortilla Chips and a jar of hot salsa dip. A packet of cigarettes on the side (I know, I know). The rain hammering against the windows. And a book.

The book starts with a chapter from editor Susan Ryeland’s point of view as she sits down to read the manuscript. Except for the cigarettes, it sounds like a good day to me.

First Sentence of Magpie Murders by Alan Conway:

23 July 1955

There was going to be a funeral.

Okay, this is a bit mind boggling. After the first chapter comes a title page (with the same title but a different author, no less), about the author page, book blurbs, everything that you’d expect in a real book. In fact, it took me a few minutes to figure out where things actually started. I had to page back and forth a few times.

What’s really freaky is that the page numbering starts again for the manuscript, except the numbers are found at the bottom rather than the top of the page. The 56 is going to be inside the manuscript text.

56

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice. The premise is simple. Turn to page 56 in the book and pick a quote.

 

‘He’d kill me,’ she replied. She smiled curiously. ‘Actually, he did try to kill me in a way — after our last row. ‘

It is weird to be looking for clues to more than one mystery within the text. There are the clues to the inside the manuscript mystery — as typically presented in a novel — and the clues to the outside of the manuscript mystery.  Which are which?

I’m beginning to think metafiction is going to require a whole new set of vocabulary words to describe the different layers.

What do you think? Would you give this a try? Have you read anything by Anthony Horowitz?

#BookBeginnings The Eighth Detective by Alex Pavesi

 

In a real visit to the library, I picked up The Eighth Detective by Alex Pavesi to read for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!

 

book-beginnings

The Eighth Detective by Alex Pavesi

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:   When editor Julia Hart contacts retired mathematics professor Grant McAllister about republishing the book of seven mystery stories he had written 30 years ago, he agrees. As they read through the old stories, Julia notices inconsistencies. Are the problems mistakes or are they clues to a real life mystery?

First Sentence:

Spain, 1930

The two suspects sat on mismatched furniture in the white and almost featureless lounge, waiting for something to happen.

Discussion:

Based on the date, this is the first story of main character McAllister’s book, therefore a fictional book within a book of fiction.  I love the layer upon layer aspects of metafiction, so I’m excited to get started with this one. I’m already seeing possibilities for deeper meaning.

56

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice. The premise is simple. Turn to page 56 in the book and pick a quote.

 

“Morning, Maggie,” she said to her sister. “What are you two doing?”

Rose stood up. “It’s afternoon, silly.”

Discussion:

Based on the names of the characters, this is likely another of McAllister’s stories . I haven’t read this far, so I’m not sure what is going on. I do wonder about the mistake with the time of day.

What do you think? Do you enjoy metafiction? Have you read this book?

#BookBeginnings And Now She’s Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall

Today let’s look at And Now She’s Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!

 

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And Now She’s Gone* by Rachel Howzell Hall

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:   Novice private investigator Grayson Sykes’ job is to track down Isabel Lincoln, whose doctor boyfriend is concerned about Isabel’s mysterious disappearance. Grayson  is new to investigating, so new that when her pen runs out during her first interview, she’s too embarrassed to ask to borrow one.  Will she be able to unravel Isabel’s secrets and find her, even if she might not want to be found?

First Sentence:

She had to do it.
She had to glance in her rearview mirror.
Because a black SUV was rolling up behind her.

Discussion:

What do you think about the fact we have no idea who this character is? Is it confusing or does it make you want to know more? Often mysteries and thrillers start with the victim’s death. So is this the woman, Isabel, who is missing? Or someone else?

56

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice. The premise is simple. Turn to page 56 in the book and pick a quote.

 

Pens — I need pens.

Who knew private investigators needed so many pens?

I like how the running pen gag gives a little levity to tense scenes and also keeps reminding us that Gray is new to this.

A few weeks back I read Rachel Howzell Hall’s Land of Shadows (prev. post) and enjoyed both her main character’s fresh voice and her vivid, inventive descriptions. So far, this one has the same strengths.

What do you think? Have you read any of Rachel Howzell’s novels?

#amwriting Couch to 80K Writing Challenge Rocks

With all the analogies comparing NaNoWriMo to running a marathon, I wasn’t surprised that the aptly named Couch to 80K Boot Camp with Tim Claire was good way to condition my writing muscles. What did surprise me was that his advice might have saved my novel.

The “Boot Camp” consists of listening to and participating in six sessions per week over the course of eight weeks. Each session lasts roughly 20 minutes, including ten minutes of guided writing time. The first exercises are deceptively simple, like making lists of character names. Each step builds on the previous. Gradually, you learn craft, sometimes without realizing you are learning.

At first I thought it might be too much to do both challenges together, but the timed Couch to 80K sessions were just what I needed to get the words flowing each day for NaNo.  The synergy was perfect.

After “winning” NaNo, however, I found myself stalled on the novel. The ending I had planned was dull and cliche, but I didn’t see any realistic fixes. I worried the whole thing was headed to the drawer.

In desperation, I went back to the Couch to 80K. I hadn’t finished all of week eight, largely because he said to use the time  to write scenes and I was already past that stage. Because it had worked so well during November, however,  I sat down and listened to the last few from beginning to end. At the end of the very last lesson there it was. He mentioned that to have a truly fresh novel you have to do research. Real, deep research.

Of course, what had been eluding me like a fluttering butterfly came into focus as if through a macro lens. NaNo conventional wisdom is to put off research and simply write, so that’s what I had done. I got into the habit of not doing research. N-o-n-e. Research was wasted time. No wonder my novel was flimsy and floundering. I delved into research and it is so refreshing. I already have a bouquet of new ideas. Although I feel like an idiot for not figuring it out earlier, I was smart enough to see the solution when it was handed to me.

Thank you, Tim Claire.

*****

Tim Claire also has the 100 day challenge. Anyone up for working on it with me?

 

#Mystery Writing with Megan Collins

We’re finding so much wonderful info for readers and writers online right now. For example, there’s a free series from Gotham Writers called Inside Writing.  In this episode we see author Megan Collins talk about writing her novels The Winter Sister and Behind the Red Door.

Favorite parts:

  • Megan reveals she is a fan of true crime. She considers listening to podcasts like My Favorite Murder as research for her novels.
  • Her agent Sharon Pelletier says a big twist at the end should be believable and satisfying, not simply a big surprise.
  • Sharon also says the little details have to be accurate/realistic or it will put off readers.
  • Megan suggests tuning out the pressure to create something completely new and fresh because it can be paralyzing.  Tell your story.
  • Sharon doesn’t want to see the ending/answer to the mystery in the pitch.

The Winter Sister* by Megan Collins

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Persephone died sixteen years ago and her murder remains unsolved.

When her sister Sylvie returns to her hometown to care for her mother, the mystery of what happened to Persephone is forced into her life again. She must deal with why her mother rejected her after her sister’s death. She also runs into Persephone’s boyfriend, who was the last to see her alive. Can she face the secrets kept all those years?

#BookBeginnings Land of Shadows by Rachel Howzell Hall

Today I’m reading Land of Shadows by Rachel Howzell Hall for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!

 

book-beginnings-Gershkowitz

Land of Shadows* by Rachel Howzell Hall

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

 

Summary:  When a young girl is killed and left at a construction site, Homicide detective Elouise Norton is immediately suspicious  of the owner, who had been linked to the disappearance of Norton’s older sister twenty-five years prior. Norton is determined to get answers this time, but at what cost?

First Sentence:

Two hundred and six bones make up the adult human skeleton.

Discussion:

Over the last six months, I’ve attended many virtual book and writing events, and I’ve discovered so many new authors I want to read. I’d seen Rachel Hall at a couple of events and she seemed intriguing, so I decided I’d try the first book in her Lou Norton series. This first line does not disappoint.

56

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice. The premise is simple. Turn to page 56 in the book and pick a quote.

 

I called Joey Jackson over and told him to take the warrant request to the courthouse and hand it to Judge Keener as soon as she popped her first can of Diet Coke.

 

This is a pretty standard police procedural, but the author drops in fresh descriptions and details that make it enjoyable. Can’t you just see the judge drinking Diet Coke to fortify her against her busy day?

What do you think? Have you found any new authors via virtual events?

#Amwriting October 30: Ready to Write

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) starts Sunday November 1, but our preparation series ends today. Hopefully you have honed your tools and are ready to write. If you get stuck at any point, help is just a click away in the resources linked below.

 

 

Can you believe we’re finally at the starting line? Frankly, I’m a bit excited and frightened at the same time. I’ve done NaNo before, but this feels like it’s going to be an important year. Hope it is for you, as well.

Time to take a breath and get those last few things accomplished. I’m going to leave you with a list of a few writing  resources  in case you need assistance while in the throes of writing.

My last bit of advice, however, is to also be willing to ignore the advice. The most important thing is for you to write is your own unique story.

Resources

Visit the 30 Day Novel Prep Page for the links to all the posts in the series. Tip:  I’ve pulled out all the writing books I recommended in the various posts and have them together on a close-by shelf for ease of grabbing

My friend Shan Hays has some great suggestions about how to get into the writing habit. I’m going to try a few, like when I stop for the day I’m going to prepare a sticky with notes about where to start the next morning. Such a good idea. Now I’m wondering why didn’t I do that before?

 Blogs to Visit:

Anne R. Allen -writing and marketing tips by a variety of authors (plus awesome resources page)

Writer Unboxed

Jennie Nash Book Coach – often has free tips and resources in addition to her services

**Helping Writers Become Authors with K.M. Weiland – extensive resources on all aspects of writing, especially for the beginner. Excellent!

Darcy Pattison has a ton of writing advice that work for all writers, not only for children’s book authors.

Podcasts to exercise by (or do the dishes by):

Writing Excuses podcast  is like eavesdropping on a bunch of extremely talented writer friends.

The Bestseller Experiment podcast

Example podcast:

 

Write Minded – about inspiration and process, for example  NaNo prep with Alexis Daria

I’ve tried to keep the list short and to the point.

Do you have any writing resources you would recommend?

++++++

Note:  I’ve been keeping these NaNo posts and some additional notes in a Scrivener file. I just looked and they add up to 49,986 words. With this post I will have written over 50,000 words about NaNo this month!

You can write 50,000 words, too. Now go do it!

Thank you for reading. Please stop by and let us know how you are doing through the month.

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