TWO WEEKS UNTIL I . . .

Yesterday, Tuesday the 17th of July, I did it. I submitted, per guidelines of the publisher, my query letter and first two chapters of my next book, Blood Will Have Blood. 

On their website it says if they are interested they will contact you within two weeks. So two weeks until I know if they are interested or not.

I will be happy either way. If they reject-and the odds are they will-I can publish the e-mystery on Amazon where my other books are. But it would be nice if they said “We want to read the final two chapters.” It would mean getting more feedback during the process of getting into ink print, rather than digital print.

I have had rejections from agents and publisher with other submissions, so rejection is not a problem. It happens to all of us. But every time you try, you have hope and now I have hope for two weeks.

But I will not be idle. I am making progress on my next mystery by researching painting styles and what artists may have been doing in the mid 1920’s, writing character profiles, expanding and editing the first chapter, and determining how many characters I should have, not wanting the reader to juggle too many. I also have short stories to write for another collection.

So I will not be staring at the phone waiting for the call, nor checking my inbox to see if they will use email to contact me. On the other hand, though it has been less than 24 hours since I submitted, I think they should have contacted me by now. After all, those were really good chapters. Can’t imagine what the hold up is.

Getting back to reality, I found the publisher through a free subscription to Authors publish Magazine. They provide lots of information on publishers, markets for all types of writing, and free downloads of information. It is a good place to get leads of who is accepting submissions, whether in print or online. I get no kickbacks for telling you about them, no hidden agenda. Just pointing to something that can provide help for  writers.

And now back to working on my next book-whether in ink or digital format.

coyotemoon_silentmurder (1)

What should a writer pretend to be when writing dialogue?

Before I answer the question posed I want to set the scene before two characters talk.

In a short story I am working on, a man is walking down a hallway, stops in front of a door with a security window, punches a code into a keypad, and enters into another hallway.

I do not tell what the facility is, but through describing what the man sees in the hallway, like the color of the walls and what type of pictures or posters are hanging on the wall and using phrases like ‘institutional carpet’ and what he observes by watching people, some of whom are looking at a TV, though few seem to be comprehending, the reader should get the idea that the man is in a nursing home.

The man walks into a room where a woman is sitting and looking out the window. He pulls up a chair and begins to talk. So now we have  a setting. And now they must talk.

When faced with a conversation, especially an emotional one and one with a twist, and a conversation that must reveal character , a lot of thought must go into the dialogue.

You must know your character, know how he talks, and know his personality. What you need not know is how the conversation will end. If you chose to think of how it will end and write towards that end that works too. For me, I like to make it up as I go along. Like an improve actor.

If I know my character, then I can imagine the conversation. As I write I know the man is going to reminisce about two things. One will is about how happy he was when he got married and the other is the worst day of his life when his two children, home from college, are killed in an auto accident.

So, like an actor, I go with the scene. A writer must get into the character’s head and pretend to be the character. Writing fiction requires you, not to think, but to feel. A good actor feels the words, understands the emotion. Once you feel the emotion of the words, the dialogue flows. It did for me, usually does. And in this moment where the man says more than the woman he is conversing with I come up with something that makes it all work, including the twist.

You see, the man thought he was talking to his wife. The woman said that she was not his wife, that her children were not dead. She made short interjections, then asked him to call a nurse, three of four times she would break in and ask for the nurse.

When the nurse does come she sees the man and an empty chair.

The man was not in the right room, his wife is dead, the woman who lives in the room was watching TV in the activity area, and the man had dementia.

But you never say what the facility is. You never give the background like a reporter giving news. You reveal through descriptive imagery and through dialogue, imagining you are an actor, not on the stage, but on the page.

Finished imaginings of mine are found at the top of my web page and the e-books are available on Amazon.

Thanks for reading.

What Writers Should Do Second, Not First

When writing a story writers can fall into a trap, one based on what they have read or seen in movies, a trap they  must escape. Let me explain.

A short story I wrote, Flowers for Martha Clemens, was based on something I saw, then I ran away with it into the twilight zone. I saw an old man, perhaps mid 70’s, carrying a shovel  in a cemetery. He walked with purpose among the graves, his clothes not those of a cemetery worker. I stopped to watch the old man, but then thought if I saw what he was going to do it might make sense and I would forget the whole incident. Better to turn away, not see what he was going to do and make up my own story.

The first thought of a writer would be obvious. The old man is going to dig up a grave. We have seen and read about grave robbers, and though the idea of a 70 year old grave robber has a bit of interest, I though it better to ignore my first instinct. Instead of robbing a grave he would dig up the grave for another reason, one more macabre. One reviewer said she liked the story “for the hauntingly melancholy vibe that sucks you into the story.”

Because of her comment I knew I made the right choice, one not based on the obvious, but one going in a new direction. That is why writers need to make unusual choices and not trust your first instinct. Better to play around with choices, bouncing things around in your mind, coming up with a few to choose from is even better.

Creativity is found in challenging your mind, writing outside the page, creating a sense of play, and getting a bit weird if need be. Creativity is challenging yourself to make new things. Writing need not be stolid, it should be fun.

Does the Bible inspire murder

It follows like morning from night that when some mass murder or odious crime is committed moralists bring out their standard polemic condemning Hollywood for violence in movies, or they blame books like “Catcher in the Rye” because Mark Chapman carried it when he killed John Lennon.

I thought of this again when reading “The Beautiful Cigar Girl” about the murder in 1841 of Mary Rogers and how Edgar Allan Poe wrote his mystery “The Murder of Marie Roget” based on the facts of the case, which has never been solved.

Mary may have been one of the first to become famous for doing nothing. Take that Kardashians. She was young and so beautiful that men flocked to the cigar store where she worked, so many and so often, that newspapers took note and wrote about her popularity. She became so well known that when she disappeared for a few days there was near panic. She returned saying she was visiting someone. But a few years later she was found floating in the Hudson River, brutally murdered.

In the book, author Daniel Stashhower quotes James Gordon Bennett, a newspaper editor, who wrote about the murder in 1836 of Helen Jewett, a 23-year old prostitute. In her room was found Lord Byron’s book of poetry “Don Juan.”  Bennett wrote “the book has no doubt produced more wretchedness in the world than all the other moral writers of the age can check.” And the “Journal of Public Morals stated, “Avoid the perusal of novels.”

Don’t read books or Lord Byron’s poetry for they will lead you into prostitution and death.

I’m sure we can research back further in time and find more moral outrage. But blaming movies, TV, music, videogames, even Dungeons and Dragons, or anything antithetical to Ivory Tower moralists is misdirection. Many will bring up the Bible as the good book, the book of comfort and morality. Do these moralists know how many people were murdered in the Old Testament, how many were slaughtered, how many sins of Bible heroes were committed. Could the Bible have led to murder and sins of it’s readers? No, you say. How about the Crusades, the Inquisition, burning witches at the stake to free their souls? Or anti-abortionists who kill doctors and nurses?

Maybe moralists have a point. Reading is dangerous.

On the other hand, is it not truer to say that people who were inspired to murder, mayhem, and other crimes, had something wrong with them to begin with. More people have not committed murder from reading the Bible than have committed murder. More people have read “Catcher in the Rye” and not killed than those who have.

In short there is no correlation between art and crimes. People commit crimes; people point fingers. Those fingers are pointed the wrong way.

dugout (1)Loonies_In_Hollywood-375x712coyotemoon_silentmurder (1)Cemetery_Tales_and_other_PhantasmsA-351x597coyotemoon_cemetaryb