Enter The Giveaway!

It's 11:30pm...

Monday, March 29, 2010

and I'm still up. I worked all day knowing that what I really needed to do was come home and write. I need to finish my short story for the Level Best contest, but tonight I ducked out of the work and indulged in a little research. I watched Julie & Julia. I know. I know. It's been out for awhile, but usually the choice of movies is not left up to me. This time I was the one possesion of the Redbox code.

I confess, I wasn't really sure what to think of the movie. I remember well seeing Julia Child cook on WPBN's Boston feed. This was back when we only got four channels. Three regular and the public broadcasting channel. I watched shows like This Old House (Norm's my hero) and Victory Garden and Julia. I've never been a cook. Never took the time to really learn, so the Julia experience was wasted on me growing up. I had a mother who was a Home Economics major in college, but she never really taught me to cook. Something she admitted to me as an adult.

But watching Julie and Julia did make me realize something tonight. I realized that if I possess I trait that will make me endure, if not succeed, in this life... then it's perseverance. I wrote for almost 12 years before selling. Most would have given it up long before that. I've written through the birth of my son, the death of my mother, the loss of jobs, the gain of jobs, the good times, the bad times and those times when I'm merely holding on by the edge of my fingernails. And through it all I just kept moving. Or writing.

In the movie, Julie states that she's not a writer because she hasn't published. It shouldn't have been the published status that determined her "writer" status, but her perseverance. To do something half-hearted is to offer a half-hearted gift. It was only when she persevered that she got her publication. And so much more. Perseverance is about staying with stuff, even when it so hard that all you want to do is something else. I've had people ask me if I ever wanted to give up. I can honestly say that I've never considered giving up. I can't. It's too much a part of who I am. Even if I never published again I would continue to write. It's as much an exercise in sanity as it is a lesson in perserverance.

Julia Child wrote, edited and cooked for years, working on determination and perseverance. I think tomorrow I'll be starting with a new determination. And possibly and new resolve. And we'll see where this leads me...

Bon Apettite'

Photo from TVGuide.com's bio of Julia Child

Not enough coffee...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

It's been a very long week. Come to think of it... it's been a very long couple of weeks. We've had a multitude of committments that all seemed to fill up our calendar. DD went from two weeks of play production that kept her at the high school late, sometimes until 11pm to having softball practice everyday after school until early evening. My DS's projects are wrapping up as well as they count down to the end of their elementary school years and work toward getting geared up for middle school. Through it all I've been checking off tasks left and right and still finding it hard to fit in the things that I need to do or want to do. Hubby and I are rallying best we can, but sleep seems to be going by the wayside along with other struggling issues.  Getting time to write is one of those things. I'm sure I'm not alone.

The short mystery that I'm working on was going really well, but I find myself going back again and again to the beginning and tweaking the first few paragraphs. I know that I've only got those couple of paragraphs to not only catch the reader, but set the tone for the story and outline the crime in question. That's a lot of pressure. I know that I have something special here. I just want to make sure that everyone else sees it as well.

So, for now.. it's back to the coffee pot for more fuel for me. Wish me luck.

Going Kindle with Three Truths

Monday, March 22, 2010

Three Truths

Three Truths was formerly published through Wings ePress as The Three Truths of Katie Talmadge. After much consideration over finding it a good second home I decided to put it on Kindle. I did this after listening to a discussion from a few mystery authors on the Murder Must Advertise list about finding homes for their darlings.

The set up was harmless and the experience relatively easy. I did create a new cover for the book since the last was designed by the previous publishing house. The cost is $1.99 for a download. Reasonable I think for a story with such heart. If you have a Kindle or download to your computers you can follow the links I've provided to check it out.  I hope Three Truths finds it's way into your heart as much as it did to mine.


Magic, destiny and fate… Katie Talmadge has had her fill of all three while living in Salem, Massachusetts. Now, she wants nothing more than her little flower shop to occupy her life. But when a mysterious woman promises to change her life with three fateful truths, Katie begins to believe in magic that can only come from the heart. Simon Thorton knows his aunt is crazy for enlisting his help with guiding Katie. He’s perfectly content with his antiques and his memories of his deceased wife. But fate and his aunt have their own plans for him when he begins to look beyond the past and look forward to the future… a future with Katie.

Buy the Kindle edition at Amazon.com

P.S. If you already own Three Truths I'd love it if you would leave a comment on Amazon to let others know what you think of it and thank you to all for your support.

Blessings...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It's no secret that I'm Irish. You don't have to be around me long to figure it out. There are also some smatterings of Ulster-Scot and Welsh. But for today, I'm all Irish. I've forgone my usual post of the John Ford's The Quiet Man (A Portland, Maine native) and instead I offer this blessing to all...

May you always have work for your hands to do,
May your pockets hold always a coin or two,
May the sun shine bright on your windowpane,
May the rainbow be certain to follow each rain,
May the hand of friend always be near you,
And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

Slainte'

Mystery Monday

Monday, March 15, 2010

Forgive the lack of blogging for the past week, but I've been in Tax Hell trying to get things set for the deadline. That doesn't mean that I haven't thought about writing, but nothing truly makes me want to write more than knowing that there is something much more important to be done. It's not been a total loss. I did work quite in a bit in my dirty work journal and discovered that I still have a few holes to fill. In the meantime, I thought I'd share a fabulous blog post that I ran across today...

Confessions of a Mystery Novelist: They Aren't Really "Cookie Cutter" Murderers...

Ms. Kinberg talks about a particularly intriguing topic, murders who are not the horrifying stereotypical killers we expect. Instead, she refers to the ones she calls "the unassuming personality". They appear congenial, even non-threatening in their demeanor. Hardly a worthy oponent? Many writers would say that they are worthy, even for such illustrious writers as Christie... it's a way to tap into the "killer next door".

How many times have you seen the interviews after the murders, the ones where the people surrounding the suspect all tell how "normal" they appeared. In many ways, that appearance of the normal is more horrifying because it could be anybody, anyone you pass on the street, or speak to in the grocery store. Anyone.

In my workshop that I gave at RWA Nationals last summer I talk about making believable Anti-heroes. In many ways, the startling realization that tortures the reader is that the normal conditions of life hide insidious secrets. And the realization that given the right... or wrong... circumstances... or choices we are all a step away from being in the place of that particular character. By creating characters that mirror our own morals and characteristics we can create characters that entice and chill.

Mystery Monday

Monday, March 08, 2010

In my search to find great information on writing mysteries I've come across quite a few fantastic blogs. Today, in honor of Mystery Monday I'm going to share a few of my favorites.

The Kill Zone - This one touts 7 top mystery and thriller authors and they carry through on their claims. Claire Langley-Hawthorne, Katherine Lilley, Joe Moore, Michelle Gagnon, John Gilstrap, John Ramsey Miller and James Scott Bell. They continue to amaze me with their up-to-date and in-depth information on all aspects of the genre and writing.
The Blood Red PencilWith a host of incredible authors, Blood Red Pencil works with the combined knowledge of some fantastic (and might I add prolific) authors. Look for posts by Charlotte Phillips, Dani Greer, Elsa Neal, Heidi Thomas, Helen Ginger, Kathryn Craft, L.J. Sellers , Linda Lane, Maryann Miller, Morgan Mandel, Patricia Stoltey and Shon Bacon. In February they featured articles on such topics as grammar, editing, continuity and social media... just to name a few. Expect to spend extra time reading their previous posts. It's worth it.
Make Mine Mystery- This blog is made up a great host of authors including Robert W. Walker, Mark Troy, Tony Burton, Marilyn Meredith, Ben Small, Vivian Zabel, Libby McKinmer, Earl Staggs, Marvin D. Wilson, Jean Henry Mead, Christine Duncan, Dana Fredsti, Morgan Mandel, Chester D. Campbell and Austin S. Camacho. I am always enlighted and sometimes surprised by their great takes on writing, promotion and just daily life.
Mysteries and My Musings - They have great interviews including this week's interview with Diane Stuckart who writes both mysteries and historical romance. She's also giving doing a great giveaway this week.

I hope you enjoy the links I've offered. If you enjoy their posts then take a moment to let them know by commenting and passing on the links. If you know of any great blogs you would like to see included on my Mystery Monday you can let me know at teagan@teaganoliver.com

Sunday Night Detour

Sunday, March 07, 2010

For some reason, Sunday nights for me are a time to follow my muse... or inspiration... or just downright eccentricities and see what kind of odd things I can research. Tonight, it's cows... to be more specific Scottish Highland Cattle.

I have no idea why they came to mind, but I came to the sudden conclusion that I wanted to photograph one. There used to be some in Freeport, but hubby has informed me that they are no longer there. (Actually, it was more like "They've been gone for years. Where have you been.") Anyway, I went on a search for Scottish Highland Cattle in Maine and came up some interesting stuff.

First, they generally don't use them for milk. Apparently, they can be a bit temperamental and touchy about the task of milking. That doesn't mean that it can't be done, but I'm not sure how many brave souls there are out there that are up to the task.

From there I went to see sites like bumpypasturesfarm.com. They have incredible pictures of the cows and show the different colors that can be bred. I also liked their pages on the chickens, but that's for another detour.

According the Maine Highland Cattle Association website, they believe the breed came from the Western Isles and Highlands of Scotland (Ironically, so did part of my family). They have short legs and deep frames (again, like most of the males in my family) and they vary in colors from black, white, brindle and dun, but the most common is red. (Hmmm, grampy had red hair). They can also withstand extreme weather and have two layers of hair to shed water and retain heat. With the uttmost respect I have copied a list of their attributes from the Maine Highland Cattle Association site:
•Quiet, docile disposition
•Thrift and ease of management
•Longevity
•Adaptable to Maine and northern New England's terrain and climate
•Disease resistant
•Productivity and ease of calving
•Therapeutic value
•Picturesque physical appearance
•Lean, low-cholesterol beef
 
There's enough there to sell a lot of people on raising the beautiful beast. However, I'm not sure my town ordinance will allow for the new pet. In the meantime, I'm going to have rethink the whole keeping chickens thing... enjoy...

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Another piece of my childhood disappeared this weekend. It was a small piece, tucked away mostly in memory. But still such a part of my life. During the storm that struck the coast of Maine this past weekend the winds struck with such force that the islands in the midcoast region were hard hit. There were plenty of trees down and as usual the power went out. The power outages have become a common thing even though the islands that I speak about are connected to the mainland through a series of bridges. When I talked to my father he was matter of fact. He's ridden out many of storms and some of them were atop a huge dry dock structure used to rehab Navy ships and submarines. I've also mentioned before that he's a former Coastie who spent his time on lightships and icebreakers off the New England coast. He's seen his share of storms. But this one made him tired. The biggest casualty was something that most wouldn't have even known existed. It was a long garage like structure that sat on the hill behind my grandparent's house. My guess would be that my grandfather probably built it in the forties when he returned with my grandmother to the harbor. It may have even preexisted it by being an outbuilding for what was a large summer hotel that sat further on the ledge. But to me it was Grampy's workshop. Sometimes I would go with him and he would let me dig through coffee cans filled with nuts and screws. He had all manner of tools in there, mostly dusty and forlorn. But it was there that he spent his time putter and creating. For me, the creative escape is the pages of a story. For my grandfather it was usually puttering around at fixing a small tractor engine or building his greenhouse. He was an avid gardener. When I was little that shop seemed to be huge, with rafters that stretched miles above my head. But I haven't been in it since long before he passed and he's been passed about 15 years. During the storm an ancient tree came down to settle on top of it. According to my father he fears it's totalled. He believes that the only way the walls still stand is from the bracing of the tree within. For me, this is almost as if I'm mourning him again. I always could believe that he was there puttering in his workshop if only I had looked. Maybe he is. But I still miss him. It's funny that something so simplistic as a well-worn structure can bring back fresh grief. Maybe if I try hard enough... when I go to sleep tonight I will return in my dreams to being that little girl who ran up the path to see Grampy putting away in his shop.

Dirty Work and Writing Short

A couple of weeks ago I talked about what I call "Doing the Dirty Work". In an attempt to make sure that I had the best grip on this book that I realized that I needed to be as organized as possible. It would be the only way to keep it all in line. I have two projects going right now, both have their own level of complications. The first is a short mystery that requires me to use the smallest amount of words to the best advantage and still be able to leave as much mystery as possible. Not an easy task. Just watching the word count alone is enough to scare the crud out of me. But I learned a few valuable lessons while working on his project...

1. The KISS analogy does apply. Simple is better. I usually add a paranormal element to my stories, but in this case I found that the word count didn't really allow for it. Ditto for including extraneous information on processes or background.
2. Isolate your characters. Agatha had it right when she put them all on a deserted island together. Less change of venue means less words new areas to describe.
3. Start with the crime. I figured this one out right away. Save yourself some headaches and start off with the dirty deed. All those lovely bits can be just as easily distributed throughout the story.
4. Kill your darlings... Write out the whole thing and then be ruthless in your editing. It's the only way to save your sanity and still get the words on the page.

All in all, I know that I will get this done. As long as I write a story that entertains myself I'm sure to find those that will enjoy it.
Midnight, strange mystic hour, when the vail between the frail present and eternal future grows thin.
~ Harriet Elizabeth Beecher Stowe



 photo envye.jpg
envye blogger theme