11
Jun

Preview from Black Cat and The Clue in Dewey's Diargy

If you've been following my blog you know I have another novel coming this Fall - Black Cat and the Clue in Dewey's Diary - a dual tale of adventures in Fern Lake with Black Cat and Angel, and Dorian and Kimberlee as they ,pursue a lost treasure   in Austria and Germany. Kimberlee's adventures in Austria mimic my own experiences in 1987 when I visited the area. The church pictured IS the Hopfgarten church in the story. Here is an excerpt with Kimberlee, the day she leaves Dorian at her conference and strikes out on her own.

*****

On the outskirts of Salzburg, Kimberlee stopped at an endearing pension. She followed the path to the front door and rang the bell. A stout, older woman answered. “Wilkomen! Kumm in! (Welcome. Come in).

Kimberlee held up her overnight case. “Do you have a room?”

The woman smiled. “Ya. I hef nice room. This way, please.” She led Kimberlee to a room next to the garden filled with pink and yellow tulips and tall gladiolas. The room contained plain, solid wood furniture. A thick feather comforter and feather pillows lay atop the double bed. A vase of fresh flowers adorned the nightstand. French doors led out to the garden. “Is good?”

“Yes, it’s lovely. How many Euros?” Kimberlee pulled out several bills.

The hostess took two bills. “Is enough. Breakfast is 7:00 A.M.”

“Thank you. That will be fine.” Kimberlee set her overnight case on the floor. She opened the French doors, stepped into the garden, and was immediately enveloped by the scent of flowers. A green, carved wooden bench sat beside a fish pond where red and black koi fish bobbed. How she wished Brett could see this. Wouldn’t it have been better to wait and share this beautiful experience with a loved one? Her first day in this beautiful country had already presented so many wondrous sites.

She sat on the bench and watched the koi glide back and forth across the pond, nibbling at a mossy rock, pausing to bask in a ray of sunshine. Would she have experienced the day the same way if Brett had been with her?

The spacious, green, lush meadows, the sense of oneness created by the similarity of the houses, the tinkle of the cows’ bells and the serene agelessness of the castles high atop the hillsides. The way the church bells rang every hour. How the peaceful countryside had affected her! The violinist’s song had touched her heart. The fairytale town transported her to another time and place. In truth, the day’s events left her feeling as though she had stepped into another dimension. Her soul felt refreshed and her faith reaffirmed.

A sudden thought! Spending the day alone had provided such unexpected reactions. As pleasant as it would be to share with a loved one, would she have experienced it the same way? Perhaps, a day spent in solitude was as rewarding as when shared by another.

She revisited the events of the day, from meeting the little cat, to the musician on the church steps, to the castle on the hill, to the mists in the meadows and the cows in the field. And, finally, to a bench beside the koi pond, remembering each beautiful moment in the beauty and stillness of the garden.

She closed her eyes, breathed in the scent of flowers,. In the distance, a church bell chimed. Resolved not to forget a minute of the day’s events, Kimberlee picked up a pen and filled her journal with all she had seen and felt this wondrous day.

*****

Black Cat and the Accidental Angel is Free at Amazon June 12, 13, 2019.     http://tinyurl.com/y6vhxncq

 

21
Jan

Shoko Interviews Ling-Ling from Mrs. Odboddy Adventures

    Mrs. Odboddy And Then There Was a Tiger

Shoko, a lovely Canadian Siamese cat who writes a daily blog at CANADIAN CATS MEEZERS AT LARGE interviews Ling-Ling, the cat in the book Mrs. Odboddy And Then There was a Tiger
Ling-Ling - Interviewee

>

Shoko – InterviewerSurmising a rodent intruder in the package, I promptly extricated said rodent by tooth and claw, thus eliminating smelly threat level to zilch.
(a) Did you kill that thing in the package?
Unfortunately, no. It entered the house and in my ensuing pursuit, many household items were severely damaged and it got away. (Not my fault!)

2. Does Mrs. Odboddy's antics ever get in the way of her feeding you on time? Or providing you with enough attention?

Mrs. Odboddy knows better than to neglect my head scratches. But, on rare occasions, when Mrs. O. doesn’t come home at night, I must rely on others to provide my victuals.

3. What is it like living with an eccentric old woman who 'fights the war" from the home front? What makes her a hometown patriot? Feeling compelled to expose conspiracies and spies, and her multiple volunteer projects, Agnes is often away from home. Her amusing tales ‘after the fact’ almost makes up for it, though she is prone to stretch the truth when it puts her in a better light.

4. Since we are both Siamese, we sort of look alike. Is it possible we are related? Descended from royal blood myself, it is doubtful that we are related, though I suppose it is possible. Have you done a DNA test through Ancestry.com yet?

5. When your former mistress, Lilly, is released from Japanese Internment camp, will you go back to live with her or stay with Mrs. O.? Agnes assured me that after the war when Lilly comes home, I will remain here. Now that I’ve blessed their home for some time, I’m sure Agnes would miss my sparkling personality and humble nature.

6. If Mrs. Odboddy can't find a home for the tiger, Shere Khan, any chance she'll bring him home to live with you? How do you feel about that? Oh my stars! It’s one thing to bring a homeless cat into one’s life, but I don’t think Shere Khan would fit in our bed. I don’t plan to give up my spot any time soon.

7. Which of Mrs. Odboddy's three published books is your favorite? My biggest role was in Hometown Patriot (http://tinyurl.com/hdbvzsv), so I suppose that’s my favorite. When Mrs. O put six chickens in the bathroom, I did a pretty good job of messing with that project, if I do say so myself. MOL!!!

8. Should an elderly lady like Mrs. Odboddy have a boyfriend? Do you want her to marry Godfrey? How would you feel about calling Godfrey…”dad?” Every old lady should have a boyfriend, or a ‘friend-boy,’ as the case may be. Godfrey’s pretty cool but Mrs. O will never marry him. She’s too set in her ways and I expect Godfrey would cramp her style.

9. Why does Mrs. Odboddy keep getting in trouble with Chief Waddlemucker? Because she can’t keep her nose out of everyone’s business and the Chief often gets in the way of her shenanigans. In spite of it all, they are still friends.

10. What can you tell us about Mrs. Odboddy as a secret agent during WWI? Does she still consider herself a secret agent? If I told you all I know about her WWI activities, I’d have to kill ya’. Without a doubt, she’ll never stop tracking down Nazi spies and wartime conspiracies, even though I’d prefer her home scratching my head or knitting! Oh my! There she goes again, and it’s time for my dinner.

Mrs. Odboddy - And Then There Was a Tiger (http://tinyurl.com/y96qshuv)

Check out this and the two other Mrs. Odboddy books available at Amazon $3.99 ebook.
Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot
Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier

18
Jun

A Peek Into 'Black Cat and The Key to the Treasure'


    From my Work in Process: Black Cat and the Key to the Treasure


Kimberlee travels alone in Germany while her friend attends a conference...
Salzburg, Germany: As Kimberlee passed through the countryside, the terrain varied as the road rose and fell through hills and valleys. Around every corner, another picture postcard vista appeared. With no particular agenda, Kimberlee frequently stopped to photograph a scene.

In a green meadow, the only sound was the breeze shaking the leaves on the shrubs alongside the road. The tinkling of shiny brass bells hanging from the collars of a flock of sheep or a group of black and white cows grazing nearby produced a stirring in the heart of a captivated tourist. In another place, the gentle terrain rose up through the pasture to where a fine mist clung to the hillside. The sound of tinkling bells confirmed more animals hidden among the distant trees.

Fewer vineyards dotted the hillside as Kimberlee approached Salzburg; the town where Mozart lived, played his harpsichord and wrote melodies. Several hundred years later, his name is still a household word and millions of people enjoy his music.

She reached the center of the city, parked her car, and began to walk. Ancient ivy-laden buildings with sagging tile roofs covered the sidewalk courtyards. Church spires peeked out from behind red tile rooftops. She passed a church with dates carved into the wall reading 1200-1400. How incredible! One church was said to be 1000 years old.

Faint music drew her toward the town square where a street musician stood on the steps of an ancient church played Ave Maria on his violin. While tourists clustered around the steps, pigeons flew from rooftop to rooftop, as though drawn by the haunting melody.

Kimberlee paused. The lingering notes echoed off the surrounding ancient buildings and filled the courtyard with music such as one might imagine in Heaven. Her thoughts drifted back to another time. She imagined the cobbled streets filled with horse-drawn carriages. Perhaps one held a princess and her ladies-in-waiting. Over there, a knight in shining armor on his trusty steed, ready to joust with a dragon.

The musician drew his bow across the strings, and the final note hung in the air. He lowered his hand. The audience stood motionless. Someone coughed, and the spell was broken. Generous visitors tossed money into the violin case at the musician’s feet before they wandered away.

Kimberlee opened her purse. “That was absolutely lovely! Thank you,” she said, as she dropped a few euros into his case.

She ran to catch a tram climbing to the top of the hill where a medieval castle overlooked the city; a cold and barren place with multiple staircases reaching in all directions. Inside the castle, armor, ancient guns, javelins, chains and torture devices covered the walls. Stepping out onto the balcony, the entire city and valley lay below. It was like peeking into the pages of a storybook.

Rainy mists on the distant mountains beckoned hikers upward into the cold crisp air. To the left–rivers, towers, cathedrals, graveyards, and church spires. To the right–cobblestone streets with horse-drawn carriages, and sidewalk cafes, musicians, and archways where street vendors hawked their wares beneath colorful awnings.

After wandering around the castle for an hour and taking dozens pictures, she returned to the city below.

She came upon a street artist, sitting on a short stool, his backpack and palette of paints by his side. He leaned into his easel and applied the finishing touches to a watercolor painting of the church, where the musician had played his moving aria on the steps. Could she be one of the colorful blobs that represented the tourists?
Unable to resist the appeal of the drawing and the memory of the thrilling experience, she purchased the picture. She would have it framed and hang it in her bedroom, a constant reminder of the poignant melody that had stirred her heart.

What a magical city! After a hearty meal and very strong coffee, Kimberlee returned to her car. She drove to the outskirts of town to look for a pension for the night. Brett would be thrilled to hear about all the things she had seen today. How she missed him and wished he was by her side.

19
Feb

Govt. Restrictions: One lb Coffee Every Six Weeks

Research while writing my WWII humorous mystery/adventure, Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot, and Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier, led to interesting facts about how folks lived during WWII.:

Rationing: American housewives willingly gave up their precious food, clothing, tires, and other goods to aid the war effort. Ration stamp booklets were issued and many items including sugar and fresh fruit could only be purchased with the appropriate ration stamp.

Due to blockades affecting Brazilian ships attempting to bring coffee and sugar to the USA during part of 1942-43, coffee was rationed to one pound every six weeks per adult. (This alone would be reason to go to war, wouldn’t it?)

Beef was in short supply and costly, as well as eggs, resulting in many resident chickens in suburban backyards. (In Hometown Patriot, Agnes obtains six chickens. Because she has no chicken coop immediately available, she puts them in the bathroom. What could possibly go wrong?)

Tires: A citizen only had ration stamps for five tires during the entire war. By today’s standards, that sounds sufficient, but bumpy roads and poor tires led to multiple flat tires even with speed limits of 35 mph.

Doctors and public safety professionals were allowed additional tire and gasoline stamps. Gasoline required ration stamps and folks were limited to only four gallons per week. Folks relied on car pool, buses, bicycles or had to walk. Men who worked out of town often had to board away from home for indefinite periods of time. (I am the result of my father’s weekend only visits while Daddy worked at the Vallejo, CA Mare Island shipyard. Whoops!)

Such shortages of food and other supplies led to black market ration books or ‘arrangements’ between friends willing to sell extra stamps for highly desired items. (Because of weekly trips to the USO to serve cookies, Agnes has to purchase a friend’s tire stamp. She also discovers a ration book conspiracy and sets out to expose the culprits.)

Victory Gardens: Many items in short supply were rationed. Citizens were almost required to plant a victory garden or appear unpatriotic. Suburban front yards were soon converted to rows of cabbages, zucchinis, tomatoes and carrots. Vegetables with a high yield requiring limited space to grow became the main ingredient of Meatless Monday. Even Mrs. Roosevelt planted zucchini in the White House Rose Garden.

Watch Towers: Ever fearful of another Japanese air attack on the West Coast, and the limited availability of newly discovered radar technology, volunteers became the ‘early warning system’ in watch towers every several miles along the California and Oregon coastline. (Agnes has an exciting encounter while serving at the watch tower in Hometown Patriot. You won’t want to miss this! )

Can you share an account of a WWII event or experience? Are you acquainted with a family member with memories of WWII? Wouldn’t they enjoy reading my novels? Only $3.99 at Amazon. Guaranteed to produce a chuckle or your money back!

Mrs. Odboddy–Hometown Patriot -Available in e-book and print at Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/hdbvzsv Agnes attempts to expose a ration book conspiracy and deals with the return of an old WWI lover.

Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier –Agnes travels across country by train, carrying a package to President Roosevelt. She is sure it contains secret war documents, and NAZI spies will try to steal her package. Amazon – http://tinyurl.com/jn5bzwb

Next time, I’ll talk about another WWII event or experience.

1
Dec

Fighting WWII From the Home Front

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Mrs. Odboddy–Hometown Patriot is available in e-book and print at Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/hdbvzsv

In my cozy mystery/adventure story,Odboddy–Hometown Patriot, is an elderly, eccentric woman determined to expose every villain and conspiracy threatening the home front during WWII. In addition to a charming story, we delve into life in the United States as citizens 'fought the war from the home front.' Agnes Odboddy was such a patriot.

Rationing:

American housewives willingly gave up their precious food, clothing, tires, and other goods to aid the war effort. Ration stamp booklets were issued and many items including sugar could only be purchased when accompanied with the appropriate stamp.

Just imagine how frustrating to find your coffee rationed to one pound every six weeks per adult. This was due to blockades affecting Brazilian ships attempting to bring coffee to the US (During part of 1942-43). The majority of the available coffee was sent to the troops.

Beef was in short supply and costly, as well as eggs, resulting in many resident chickens in suburban backyards. (Agnes obtains six chickens, but because she has no chicken coop available, she puts them in the bathroom. What could possibly go wrong?)

A limit to purchase only five tires during the entire war was put in place. By today’s standards, that sounds sufficient, but rough roads and poor tires were conducive to multiple flat tires. With a few exceptions for doctors and other public safety professionals, gasoline was rationed to four gallons per week, requiring folks to car pool, ride buses, use bicycles or walk. Speed limits of 35 mph were most common.

Victory Gardens:

To appear patriotic and reduce reliance on the limited supply of vegetables and fruit available, citizens were almost required to plant a victory garden. Suburban front yards were converted to rows of cabbages, zucchinis, tomatoes and carrots. Any vegetable with a high yield requiring limited space became the main ingredient of Meatless Monday. Even Mrs. Roosevelt planted zucchini in the White House Rose Garden.

Watch Towers:

Ever fearful of another Japanese air attack, watch towers were erected every several miles along the California and Oregon coastline requiring volunteers to be the eyes and ears for the military. Radar was invented during the war but was in limited supply.

As Agnes’s fantasy mystery-adventure progresses, she experiences every phase of rationing, growing a victory garden and manning a watch tower. As a dedicated hometown patriot, she is determined to root out a ration book conspiracy, identify a perceived Nazi spy and prepare for a visit from Mrs. Roosevelt.

With the return of an old lover who wants to re-ignite their romance, things heat up. With chickens in the bathroom and a search for a million dollars in missing Hawaiian money, this hysterical romp through the WWII era is a fascinating novel like you’ve never read before.

25
Aug

Describe the Days of the Week as PEOPLE

Graceportrait

Guest Post today from Grace Freeman. Finding a word prompt to write an essay from the following statement, "How would you DESCRIBE the days of the week if they were PEOPLE?" Grace shares with us her thoughts on the subject.

Sunday was gentle. She smiled with the softest dimples at the corners of her cheeks. Her lashes were light feathers atop deep brown eyes that always seemed to know exactly what you were thinking. She was ivory with a smattering of freckles along her nose, where the sunbeams had left butterfly kisses in the spring. Her hair was golden, flowing long down her back like a gurgling creek . When you saw her, you were content. Maybe even a little shy. Being in her presence made the world seem warmer, the days seem shorter, and the air a little easier to breathe. We took advantage of it. Sunday was a place of rest, and praise, but many found no help in her loving embrace. They feared the days to come, and would not trust her soothing words or easing prayers. They would turn their back on her. On days like this, she would be tired. The kind of tired that sleep cannot cure. For Sunday was only welcome when they took her for granted.

Monday was irritable. He was never satisfied, always searching for something, but nothing would ease his hunger. He was handsome, dangerously so, for his smile was misleading, with small pointed teeth at the corners of his lips. His eyes were so startlingly bright that many groaned when he came around, never wanting to face him. Dark auburn hair spiked messily away from his forehead, as if he were always in too much of a hurry to comb it the right way. He never ate enough, so every bone fought to be free of his skin. Few people welcomed him into their homes, or hearts. They slammed the door on his face, pulled the covers over their heads, or turned the other way to his cries. He was angry, and anger in Monday made his blood turn to ice. All he wanted was to be loved, greeted at the door like a long-lost friend. But he was only a burden, and that was all he would ever seem to be.

Tuesday was quiet. He never talked much and truly liked to keep to himself. Few things made him upset, and many things made him laugh. He was shorter than the others, with sweet topaz eyes and a tender smile. He liked to wear sweaters too big for his wrists, and ties with colorful stripes down the center. Blue was his favorite color, and he left it everywhere he could. On his nails and his glasses, in his spiral notebooks and flyaway hair. He took care to organize anything that needed to be. Pencil shavings were often a trace he left behind, too focused in his work to clean them up. Many people liked him, and others didn’t. They found him boring, tedious, or downright annoying. But some smiled when he walked their way, pausing to give him a timid wave. Tuesday was undoubtedly an introvert, but at least Wednesday was his friend.

Wednesday was a jokester; a bit of a maniac some would say. He was obnoxiously tall, with many studded piercings and mismatched eyes. Startling green on the right and muddy, hazel brown on the left. His right eyebrow, his left nostril, and both his ears in many places, all shone with a hint of metal. The others would tell him he needed to dress better, but everything hung from his lanky frame like spider silk on a branch. He loved black jeans, he loved holey shirts, and anything with spikes made him gleeful like a child in a candy store. He relished in pulling pranks and painting on concrete walls, and the sound of police sirens to him was as thrilling as a game of hide-and-seek. Those who were unlucky enough to hang around him usually took the fall for these gimmicks. Many wondered how he could hang out with geeky little Tuesday so much, for their polarized personalities seemed to set them apart in their eyes. Truly, he was trying to corrupt his prim and respectable friend, but nothing seemed to work. So Wednesday would run with us, kicking up dirt in his wake and leaving us in the dust of his dreams.

Thursday was ever observant. He was eldest, with sun touched skin and broader shoulders. His russet hair was trimmed short, and when he smiled, crow’s feet would appear at the corners of his golden-brown eyes. Just about everyone liked him. He was quite sociable, and was never too busy to help someone in need. He held the door for strangers, he always made his bed, and he would remind you sweetly that you’re capable of anything. He wore his heart on his sleeves. He left sunbeams in his wake. He could tell with just a glance that you were having a rough day. However, in our frustration, we shoved him off, told him to leave us alone. We locked ourselves in dark rooms as the sun shone behind the clouds. We had the audacity to wonder why it always rained the next day.

Friday was mute. He was small cupid bow lips that never made a sound. What he lacked in words he made up in bright oil paintings and watercolor masterpieces. His art was like smoke, so impossible to grasp yet breathtaking to watch. Paint could often be found under his fingernails and behind his ears, for he had a habit of brushing the untamed hair out of his face as he worked. Fourth of July was his favorite holiday, for fireworks took their turn to paint his face in brilliant works of light. His blond hair always had a certain way of falling over those lilac eyes that made anyone smile his way. He took us to concerts, and threw parties almost every week, and left ghostly kisses on the backs of our eyelids. Late nights he would spend running or skateboarding down dimly lit streets under the glow of fireflies and streetlamps. Arrests were made almost as often as love when Friday came around.

Saturday was turbulent. Her dark chocolate hair fell over her back like rolling waves on a stormy night. Her eyes were the color of the sea washing against a rocky shore. She corrected you when you were wrong. Holding her tongue was not in her nature. No filter came to her mouth. And yet, that is what we found most attractive. She enticed you with her words, even if she were talking about something as simple as how terrible the taste of coffee was on her lips. She would come back with scraped up knees or busted knuckles only to kiss you on the cheek before she was gone again. Saturday was whom we waited for at the door, eager to see her stride by. She was always on your mind, a phantom we would never truly understand.

These were the Weak Days. A family divided by periods of the night. But when the stars shone just right, the Weak would glow.

Did I forget to mention? Grace is my granddaughter. She is FIFTEEN years old, a sophomore in high school. She is already working on two novels. Look out, authors. Can a best seller novel be far in the distance? Comments?

30
Jan

WWII Life in the Small Home Town

Mrs_Odboddy_Full_Front (2)

Posted on January 29, 2016
JAMES CALLEN WEBSITE POST

Today’s guest is Elaine Faber, the California writer who generally has a Faber-2scat as the chief sleuth. She departs from that to bring us a story centered around World War II in her latest novel, Mrs. Odboddy – Hometown Patriot. (Of course, there’s a cat in it.) Elaine is a member of Sisters in Crime, Inspire Christian Writers, and Cat Writers Association.

While researching California WWII events, the following events became an integral part of the plotline for Mrs. Odboddy – Hometown Patriot.

Rationing:
The government convinced the Americans public that giving up their precious food, clothing, tires, and other goods was not only necessary to win the war, but was patriotic.

During part of 1942-43, coffee was rationed; one pound every six weeks per adult. This was due to Brazil’s blockade of ships bringing coffee to the United States, as well as the need to send much of the limited supply to the troops.

A citizen could purchase only five tires during the entire war. This sounds like plenty by today’s standards, but neither roads nor tires were as good in 1942 as today. People were strongly encouraged, almost required, to car pool or use bicycles and motorcycles.

Sugar and other food items were extremely expensive and required a ration stamp which limited its purchase. Beef was in short supply and costly, as well as eggs, which induced many a chicken to take up residence in the suburban backyard.

Victory Gardens:
To reduce the reliance on purchasing vegetables and fruit, it was considered patriotic to have your front lawn converted to rows of cabbages, zucchinis, tomatoes and carrots. Even Mrs. Roosevelt planted zucchini in the Rose Garden. Any high producing vegetable in a limited space became the focus of the weekend gardener and the mainstay of many Meatless Meals.

Watch Towers:
Californians and Oregonians lived in fear of Japanese invasion. Volunteers were stationed in watch towers every several miles up and down the coastline with binoculars pointed skyward.

In Mrs. Odboddy–Hometown Patriot, Agnes experiences rationing, volunteering at the Ration Stamp Office, organizing can and paper drives, tending her Victory Garden and cooking meatless meals, fighting the war from the home front. But this eccentric lady also keeps an eye on her nefarious neighbors, some of whom MUST be Nazi spies. She finds herself knee-deep in what is sure to be a black market ration book scam, but when the watch tower burns down on her coast watch shift, she takes the blame to keep a National Security secret.

Toss in the return of an old lover from WWI who wants to re-ignite their romance, chickens in the bathroom and a search for a million dollars in missing Hawaiian money and you have the crux of the story.

When Mrs. Roosevelt comes to Newbury to attend a funeral, and Agnes’s eccentric notions become reality, she must prove she is, indeed, a warrior on the home front.

On Amazon at: http://tinyurl.com/hdbvzsv

Elaine.Faber@mindcandymysteries.com (e-mail)

21
Jun

He said… She said. Why does it matter?

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Readers love books with lots of dialogue and not so much narrative. Good dialogue should never just be idle chit-chat or casual conversation. Dialogue moves the storyline forward and is written specifically to create a certain mood.

In the following edited conversation between Brett and Kimberlee, from Black Cat’s Legacy, she shares her darkest secret.

Kimberlee took a deep breath and sighed. “I’ve had nightmares all my life. I never thought they had anything to do with my father’s death.”

“Nightmares?” Brett wrinkled his forehead. “Go on.”

“I remember now. In my dream…maybe it wasn’t a dream... My father is lying at the foot of the stairs and there’s someone standing in the shadows!”

Brett leaned across the table and took her hand. “You were there? You saw the killer?” His grip tightened on her hand. “You know who it was?”

She shook her head. “I heard voices. I came down the stairs. I remember something red, maybe a piece of clothing? I heard a shot and then I saw his…his… body. That’s all I remember.” She laid her head on her arms. “I never realized what it meant. I thought it was just a nightmare.”

“I can’t imagine how you must feel. I want to help get to the bottom of this. What can I do?” Brett’s voice shook
.
She lifted her head. Tears ran down her cheeks. “There is one thing, but I hate to ask.”
“Anything. Just name it. How can I help?” A flicker of concern swept across his face. He squeezed her hand.

“Maybe get me a tissue?” Her eyes crinkled in a smile.

What does this dialogue reveal?
In a few short sentences, we learn that Kimberlee never understood the connection between her nightmares and her father’s murder. We feel empathy for her pain. We see Brett’s increasing attraction to her, and suddenly during this tense moment, she delivers a one-liner that hopefully, if I did my job well, makes you smile.

Even more than the narrative in a story, good dialogue can create drama, romance, angst, or humor. If you can put it all in one conversation, go for it!

The reader doesn’t understand the creative effect of what a writer has done or admire their skill of their craft. They just know that as they read, the dialogue makes them feel they are watching the scene unfold, or better yet, they become one with the characters, feeling their joy, their pain, or their sorrow as they are pulled into the story.

The mark of a good book is when the reader reaches “THE END” and wishes there was another 100 pages. The mark of a GREAT book, is when that same reader searches for the sequel or another book by this same author.

Beyond a good plot, a charming setting or appealing characters, writing dialogue that sings is essential to creating this kind of reader’s response. It contributes to the success or failure of a book and to the writer’s career.

25
Jul

Why Are All Mystery Novels So Similar?

Avid mystery readers, whatever version of mystery they prefer, whether Thriller or Cozy mysteries, read multiple books each year. They acquire their reading material through book sales, garage sales, the library, borrowed from a friend and sometimes, though rarely, actually purchased from the author. At least there is a demand, so there is a need for supply.

Let’s pretend for a minute, we’re an author desirous of launching a new mystery series.

After careful analysis of a number of mysteries, we see a tried and true template; apparently we must follow to guarantee success.
Our story needs a female sleuth, preferably blonde and beautiful. She has a German Shepard in order to capture the animal lovers out there. The dog doesn’t have to help solve the crime, but if he can, so much the better. Now she needs an unusual job or hobby so she can encounter the crime which the inept police force can’t solve. Don’t forget the sweetheart somehow connected to the police department, otherwise how could she access the official information generally withheld from the public?

Sadly, most of the best jobs or hobbies have been taken by other mystery series’. We already have book store owners, catering services, coffee houses, writers, and private detectives, to name just a few. We need a career that hasn’t been done to death, but one that will give our sleuth access to plenty of material. It is going to be a series, after all.septic tank px

How about a lady sewer technician who pumps out septic tanks? She’d be in plenty of back yards spotting nefarious going’s-on, or how about the Jehovah’s Witness that goes door to door handing out literature. Plenty of opportunities to look beyond the screen door and see someone bound and gagged…

Maybe not. Let’s stick with the 'sewer-pumper-outer'.

So let’s see…to follow the template formula. The plumber and her quirky sidekick (did I forget the quirky friend?) find a body in the pump house. Proceed to red herrings, a romantic interlude, unrequited love, and suspicious characters, all with alibis. Lots of flavor of plumbing tossed in, stopped up toilets, overflowing bathtubs, (a humorous scene or two), and move right on to the climax where our heroine goes alone to meet the villain in a warehouse, but doesn’t tell anyone where she’s going. She is captured, strung up by her thumbs to the rafters, death being imminent until her detective boyfriend and her dog burst down the door and save her life. The murderer is revealed, every toilet is unstopped, every drain unplugged and the heroine and detective ride off into the sunset in the sewer-truck. The end.

That’s the template. Lots of ways to change up the various topics; hobbies, quirky friend, red herrings, suspects, romantic interludes, murder, theft, kidnapping, contraband, illegal alien housekeeper, secret message or what-have-you that begins the mystery, identity of villain (always the most unexpected member of the cast) and final climax, etc. This is the formulaic template, with assorted variations, that most mysteries novels follow.

When will a brave author be willing to break the mold, or at least one who dares to write a mystery that doesn’t end with the heroine strung up in the barn (figuratively speaking)? Sadly, as long as the public is willing to buy these trite storylines, mystery books will continue to follow the same template.

What are your thoughts about books with similar storylines?

12
Apr

WHAT IS A COZY MYSTERY?

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• Reader is usually a woman who easily identifies with the protagonist.

• Often, protagonist is an outgoing, friendly woman, 30+ years old, with an interesting job or hobby. This provides the opportunity to solve a mystery she never asked for, but is obligated to solve.

• The setting is a community or location providing a sense of camaraderie and frequent contact with the population or patrons. (e.g., small town, college campus, coffee house, gymnasium, cruise ship.)

• Protagonist is an animal lover and often has a dog or cat. She has a sense of humor and a good deal of humor is mixed into the story line.

• She has a friend or boyfriend connected with the police department. This provides access to legal material and information.

• Cozies are frequently a series. Emphasis is on the plot and character development. Readers become emotionally attached to the characters and want to ‘go back’ and spend more time with that character and community. Readers often choose the series or author due to setting which may provide instructions, recipes or household hints. (e.g. knitting shop may give knitting pattern. Bakery or caterer gives recipes.

No graphic sex. Any suggested sex is always behind closed doors. No explicit violence. Any death occurs off screen or in the past. We never harm a child or kill a cat. No profanity. The story is suitable for younger readers or those who prefer a clearer read.

Multiple hints or clues (red herrings) are provided so the reader can play along as she reads and attempt to solve the crime with the protagonist.

Murder with a lighter touch. Never a storyline or situation that lingers to trouble your mind or keep you up at night. Reading a cozy mystery allows you to escape from reality for a while, have fun and forget your troubles.

Black Cat’s Legacy: With the aid or his ancestors’ memories, Thumper, the lodge black cat, must help solve a cold case murder, but someone at the lodge will stop at nothing to hide the Fern Lake mystery. Elaine Faber Author

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