Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


9 Comments

So, how did the event go? you ask #mnwriters

Fellow SinC author Barb Deese and myself

Last week I went to my first in-person event. I went as a representative of our local Sisters in Crime (SinC) chapter, and my fellow author and our chapter’s Member-at-Large joined me to man the booth while I was in my panel and when I was doing my workshop.

There weren’t as many people there as in the past. Small wonder. There were more, though, than there would have been if a couple of the local news stations hadn’t come by. A number of people said they came by because they saw it on the news.

Anyway, didn’t sell much (low traffic), but the panel and my workshop went well. Our panel was about women protagonists, and we did the panel as our newly-formed group, the Midwest Mystery Works.

MIdwest Mystery Works: (r to l) Chris Norbury, Brian Lutterman, moi, Bob Junghans (writes as Rob Jung). Missing: John Baird Rogers

We’re testing the waters as a group of mystery writers, hoping the logic of numbers will work on our favor (more brains, more ideas, more opportunities, hopefully). Of the five of us in the group, four of us have female protagonists, so it was a good panel. It was really interesting to hear the guys talk about writing from the POV of a woman and the considerations they have to be conscious of that I don’t have to think twice about.

My workshop, 10 Clues to Writing Mysteries, was well-attended: about a dozen people give or take, pretty good considering the attendees paid $15 for each session. My SIL was one of the room monitors, and she shared that the evaluations rated the workshop pretty high. And I have no idea what that means in the grand scheme of things. I don’t think I sold any additional books because of it, but I do think we gained a few new members of our SinC chapter.

All in all, it was a good day. A long day for sure, but a good day. It was so good to see some of my author compadres in person again. In a couple–EEK! Okay, how about a week and a half or so until I head to Albuquerque for Left Coast Crime. Here’s hoping it isn’t cut short like San Diego. I’ll be on a panel, and moderating a panel for the first time. I had a great time in San Diego for the one day I was there, so I’m looking forward to (hopefully) four days of fun with writers and readers.

Needless to say, since I’m trying to read a book from each of the four authors on the panel I’m moderating, I haven’t been writing as much as I should be. Still waiting on a couple beta readers, but darn it, if I don’t hear back from them by the end of the month, I’m sending the manuscript off to my agent anyway.

After a couple gorgeous early spring days last week, we’re back to 30s and maybe 40. Ugh. It even snowed the other day, just a coating, but still. Hope you are all enjoying spring where you are (and fall, for those south of the equator). Keep on writing!

Who’s waking me up?


Writers and Books Festival season begins! #raac #amreading

Well, I’m off to my first in-person event of the year! If you’re in the area, stop by and say “Hi!”. I’ll share details with y’all next week. In the meantime:

Have a wonderful, writing-filled weekend! Or at least enjoy the first day of Spring!

Zoey the cat chilling on the deck


Off to a book festival

Well, gang, I’m off to the Deep Valley Book Festival for the day. My second (and last?) in-person event for the year. Crossing my fingers it’ll be a good day. There will be 5 or 6 other authors from our Sisters in Crime chapter there as well, so our genre will be well-represented 🙂

Enjoy the first weekend of October (damn, I can’t believe it’s OCTOBER already!) It’s been warm this fall, like, in the 80s last week. Normally this time of year the temps are closer to the high 60s. Not complaining (much 😀 ), but the skeeters are still hunting anything with warm blood. Ugh!

Keep on Writing!

You can never have enough cat toys. Tibbers at his photogenic best!


15 Comments

When readers speak #amreading #amwriting

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Have you ever been invited (or allowed 🙂 ) to sit in on a book club discussion of your book? In my mind, my book isn’t one a book club would pick. I always envision book clubs picking more, erm, mainstream? Is that the term? Things like A Man Called Ove or The Kite Runner or Tuesdays with Morrie. Mysteries? I suppose if it’s a mystery book club they might.

Or if it’s a book club dedicated to women in aviation, they might. This young (as in started recently) book club, Aviatrix Book Review, focuses on women in aviation. There are some amazing women in this group, and the founder invited me to join. If you are interested in finding books (all ages) about women in aviation that go beyond Amelia Earhart, check out the site. They’ve collected way more books about aviation than I ever thought there were.

Anyway, like all book clubs, each month features a different book. As circumstance (and fortune) would have it, Murder in Plane Sight is the book for March! The club has so many members that multiple small groups meet to discuss the month’s pick. I had the privilege of sitting in on the first group discussion of the month.

Honestly, I wanted to hear what readers thought of it. Keep in mind that most of the books (adult) fall into the nonfiction category, with a healthy portion of memoirs and biographies. Fiction is a much smaller percentage, and I’m not sure, but mysteries are an even smaller percentage of those. My book was the first fiction book of the year.

Many of the members are also writers. All of the members in the discussion group were writers, some published, some not. Good potential for a discussion of craft. And we all know writers love to talk about craft!

What I like is hearing what other readers (especially readers who are writers) think of the story and the characters. This helps me know what aspects of a story appeal the most to readers, and what things I managed to accomplish in the story, like keeping the reader’s interest. The winner? Characters. Everyone loved the characters, and loved to hate the bad guys. One question I didn’t expect: How did you get so deep into the character who has been through trauma when you’ve never been through that same trauma?

My first reaction? Oh. My. Gawd. I did it. I made the character that real. That’s what we strive for, isn’t it? To make the characters so three-dimensional that readers ask things like that. This is the reaction we writers want to get from readers. This is why we study the craft, practice and practice the craft, and hope the little bit of fairy dust we shook from Tinkerbell is enough to draw readers in. This is one of the things writers love to hear from readers. It makes all those endless revisions worth it.

Another interesting question: How did you keep track of the mystery, and the clues, and all that? Of the writers in the group, I was the only mystery writer (although one writer wants to write mysteries and is studying that aspect of the craft). And I probably looked like a deer three seconds before it meets the grill of your car.

My first thought? I have no idea. Seriously. I don’t put together a “murder board”, with the pictures and maps and pins and strings everywhere. My second thought? I’m not sure. I just do it.

Which is so not helpful to a writer who wants to learn. I know this. So I scramble to explain something I do that I don’t understand myself. Except I do. It’s the result of years of reading, and many classes on craft, and a lot of revision. At some point, I think it becomes something like an innate sense: because as avid readers and students of the craft, we’ve read it and heard it so many times we just know. Kinda like being able to hear grammar issues when something is read aloud. But how does one explain it in a way that is useful to someone who wants to learn it? It’s a conversation that would last a lot longer than an hour-long book club discussion.

That discussion was an eye-opener for me. And fun! Oh, if you are wondering, they really liked the book. Even readers who don’t normally read mysteries really liked the book. Which is reaffirming to an author. It’s a signal that yes, I can do this, and do a decent job of it.

Bottom line, if you have an opportunity to join a discussion of your book, whether by readers or writers, try to join in. You might get insights on your story you never thought about, or learn you managed to relay something to the reader you never expected.

I have a virtual book festival today, so I’m off to swap out my PJs for something a little more formal, like sweats 😀 There’s still time to register: Cabin Fever Virtual Book Festival. It’s fun, it’s free, and it’s all about books and writing!

Two more weeks until SPRING! Yippee!

Don’t look at me like that. You got up, now it’s my chair


22 Comments

Autumn Leaves and Virtual Fun #amreading #bookfairs

We’re now officially in Fall after the equinox this week. Man, where has the time gone? It’s like we totally missed the whole summer vacation stuff, like state fairs and outdoor barbeques.

Oh, wait. We did. Damn 2020. I want a refund!

Some of the things I missed the most this summer were the opportunities to meet readers, whether as part of an author panel or during a book fair. I haven’t gotten to get together with any of my fellow authors in our Sisters in Crime chapter; our meetings are virtual now, but just not the same.

Some book fair organizers, though, managed to convert their one-day fair into a two-day virtual event. Woo-hoo! Hey, it’s better than nothing.

deep valley book festival banner
https://www.deepvalleybookfestival.com/

Next weekend I’ll be taking a break from blogging to participate. It’s virtual, and FREE, so check it out. Sure, it focuses on local (MN) authors, but there are a lot of them, and there are a number of panels each day. My first panel is on Saturday at noon CDT. Each day also has LIVE Q&A sessions with authors.

It’s all done via Zoom, so you don’t have to drive, or park, or leave your favorite pet at home, or wear pants. And you don’t have to rake leaves that weekend because you’ll be going to the book festival–even better!

Oh, I almost forgot. The keynote speaker is our very own MN author Matt Goldman, who just hit the NYT Bestseller list with his new book. I met him at the 1-day-then-cancelled LCC event this spring in San Diego. Nice guy. Wish I would have had more time to chat with him.

Head on over to the DVBF website and check it out. Mark the panels on your calendar (especially that one at noon (CDT) on Saturday 🙂 Register for the live session at 4p CDT on Sunday). Check out the roster of authors. If you like mysteries I can vouch for a couple: Chris Norbury and Brian Lutterman. Chris’ Straight River books are great thrillers starring a musician and including a great cat-and-mouse game that will conclude in the third book. Brian writes thrillers starring a parapalegic corporate lawyer. His latest book in the series just came out.

Anyway, check it out. Most of the panels are pre-recorded; the links will be posted next weekend. You can register for the LIVE events!

Still trying to catch up with blog reading. Sorry if I missed a bunch of posts. I’m getting there!

Happy Writing!

Special treat this week: I asked for more kitty pics from my son.

Tibbers and Nixie
Tibbers!