Enjoy some Mayhem & Magic!
Our blog is meant to evoke fun with the magic of myths, folklore, movies and the mayhem of murder and madness. We have to keep it interesting so if you like different genres of movies and books then you're at the right blog. Our authors are a wide range of experts and our readers know what is top of the line in their favorite genres. Sometimes we post recipes that might be fun to try if a culinary author has one in her book that we think is especially yummy or one that Terri and I have created and want to share with you. Enjoy Guest Blogger Alice Duncan's monthly muse on her books and writing mysteries.
Plus you won't want to miss our book reviews, author interviews or our guest bloggers. So grab your favorite beverage then join us for some magic and mayhem! The good news is that you don't have to leave the house or your comfy chair. We have something for everyone's taste and every month we have a different topic for our bloggers: ones we feel that might be useful in your own writing and reader points of view. Not to mention, life in general. So join us and be sure to have a notebook handy as your to-be-read pile will grow as you add books, recipes, movies and t.v. series you won't want to miss. Not to mention folktales, myths or ideas you may wish to explore. Be careful what you wish for because on mayhemandmagic2 you just might find it.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I hear this question all the time. At least a few times a week actually.
About nine or ten months ago, I let the cat out of the bag to friends, family, and the world at large that I’d been working an international suspense novel and eventually hoped to get it published. A lot of folks presumed that meant I was right on the verge of fame and fortune. As it turns out, I’m not that much farther along my journey than I was in January.
I did finally complete revisions on my book, Breathing in Bombay, with a lot of help and encouragement from fellow writer friends (who also helped pick apart every loose plot end and misplaced comma to whip my work into its final shape). I’ve submitted queries to a dozen or more agents, received a few rejections, piqued the interest of a couple others, and have yet to hear back from a handful. I’m told this is an above average “strike rate” for most authors. (Not sure what that means but it’s supposed to be good.)
Fact is, the publishing world is harder to break into than ever. Traditional publishing companies are taking fewer chances on authors without a proven track record and, as a result, it’s more difficult finding an agent than even a decade ago. I know too many talented writers, with many more books under their belt than I have, who have been seeking an agent a lot longer than me and accumulated many a rejection.
But finding an agent is only the tip of the iceberg. The agent then gets busy trying to find a publisher who will buy the book and eventually get it into its publishing schedule. Finding a publisher could take as long or longer as finding an agent; it could take a year or more to get the book published. Some publishers only put out one or two titles a month and so, for example, most locked up their print run for 2011 months ago.
So what’s an author looking to get published to do? I could twiddle my thumbs and wait to hear back from a potential agent but I also know that writing my little heart out and actively pre-marketing myself and my book are necessary. So for starters, I’ll start blogging again. I’m about to launch a new blog with other cross-cultural authors at Novel Adventurers (http://noveladventurers.blogspot.com/). And of course, I need to finish writing the first draft of book two, which is in progress.
After all, once I find a publisher, I may be expected to produce a book a year (maybe faster than that) and then, who knows, there will be all those promotional events like book signings and conferences, right? One can only hope.
Supriya Savkoor is a former newspaper reporter and magazine editor turned mystery writer and freelance editor. Her international suspense novel, Breathing in Bombay, was awarded the 2010 Helen McCloy/Mystery Writers of America Scholarship for Mystery Writing. It’s the first book in the Across Black Waters series, which brings together her twin passions of writing and travel. Supriya is based near Washington, DC, where she lives with her husband and two children. She’s a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. You can follow her progress on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and beginning October 4, on Novel Adventurers.
Monday, September 27, 2010
I had a cross stitch weekend and I could and did stitch all weekend. Fall does this to me I can stitch a lot in the fall especially on the weekends.
What can you do all weekend during the fall season?
I have to admit that I will probably go on a baking binge before fall is over and done because I love the way the house smells when I bake things like pumpkin bread and cinnamon rolls.
What is your favorite fall scent?
I seem to have a little more energy in the fall and is probably because I take more walks. I keep wanting Frank to put up a basketball hoop for me so I can shoot hoops. I can't use the parks because this time of year it's always got the college kids there who beat me to it. Fat jiggles so that wouldn't be any fun for the whole town of Parsons to see.....
Okay I am off to stitch a pumpkin do you see a theme here?
Author: ELLRY ADAMS
Page count 311
New Cozy Mystery Series
Olivia Limoges has returned to Oyster Bay, North Carolina and to her family home her dog Captain Haviland is her best friend. Olivia doesn't have to work as she is a very wealthy woman but that doesn't mean she that she doesn't fill her time with worthy causes. She owns a lot of Oyster Bay and she is also writing a novel. Lately Olivia has suffered writer's block and so when she is asked to join the Bayside Book Writers she does exactly that and in the process makes many new friends. One friend in particular is Camden Ford and from the beginning of their friendship Olivia begins redoing her lighthouse cottage because the writers need a less public place to meet.
All is going beautiful for Olivia until Camden is murdered and the killer leave a haiku poem as his calling card. Then another murder happens and soon Olivia and the other writers begin their own investigation into the murders.
There is the new bookstore owner that nobody knows much about and a famous family who seem to have more secrets than James Bond, there is a couple of locals and many more suspects.
So if you like to read a nice cozy setting with lots of fun characters and a few quirky townsfolk then you won't want to miss one of the best cozy mysteries on today's market.
This is a first mystery in the series and I am hook, line and sinker a fan of Ellery Adams series. You will enjoy Olivia and Captain Haviland.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Paperback: 600 pages
Publisher: Vintage Crime / Black Lizard (June 23, 2009)
This book is the first in a series and I picked it up because everyone has been raving about it for quite some time.
Mihkel Blomkvist is an investigative journalist who has just been found guilty of libel. When an opportunity to take time off away from Millenium (the magazine he works for) and work for Vanger Corporation scion, Henrik Vanger he is intrigued. He learns the assignment is a 40 year murder mystery. He, along with his research assisstant, Lisbeth Salander find some very dark secrets and twists.
So, I had a terrible time getting into this book. Seemed so slow and plodding. Not to mention mroe details than I thought necessary. Many times I almost put it down but I kept going thinking all these people I know who love it cant be wrong. Then a co-worker told me that yes he thought the exposition too much as well, but the last 1/3 of the book is worth it, then the others in the series get better.
Okay, so I perservered. The last third got interesting. And I did enjoy all the twists even though the action seemed to be too short (compared to all the detail on non-action stuff. LOL). And then we got to the revelations of the truth (mixed bag here too - it was an interesting twist but one I did not find too believeable) and his revenge on the man who he was convicted of libeling. (satisfying).
Overall, I would give this book a "c" I guess. Okay - good points and bad balance a lot out. I will say I LOVE the character of Lisbeth Salander and SHE will be the reason I pickup the next book in the series.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
by Gwen Mayo
Since CIRCLE OF DISHONOR was published I have discovered that nearly everyone I meet has a book idea. Their “book” is only in their mind, or their fantasies, but they are going to write it someday—when they have time. Sane people make it sound so easy when they talk about writing a book ‘one day’.
Authors are not sane people. They may have been sane people before they started writing a book while still working jobs and juggling all their other responsibilities. Somewhere between writing, editing, submitting, learning to deal with rejection, and finally getting the book into print, sanity disappears.
I am just another crazy writer: sitting at my computer long after I should have gone to bed, squeezing pages of my current work in progress between loads of laundry or dishes. There are days when the word count has to take a back seat to the rest of my life. On a bad day, just ask me about my WIP. You’re sure to get an earful.
Don’t blame me for being a little hostile. Shaping my WIP into a finished manuscript is like trying to organize schizophrenia. I have the bones of an outline before I sit down to write, but the real work is pulled out of my twisted mind one word at a time and those words come at a steep price. If I do my work well, my characters come alive. If not, the voices in my head will rip me apart until the right story bleeds out onto the keyboard. One day my WIP will be finished. Meanwhile, I am just a bloody mess with a partial I want to rip to shreds.
I became hooked on Inspector Lewis Mysteries before they were a thought way back when Lewis was a sidekick to Inspector Morse. I have watched this actor grow and I admire the easy way he makes acting a crime solving so interesting. Now he has a sidekick named Hathaway and the more I watch the two of them the better I like the pair.
I thought last night's episode with the quizz contest was especially interesting not to mention the fact that for a long while Inspector Lewis did not date. His wife Valarie had been murdered and until the murderer was caught it was like he couldn't move on but indeed thanks to Hathaway the murderer was finally caught and now Inspector Lewis is starting to date.
If you have not watched these PBS Mysteries you are really missing out because these are quality mysteries that any mystery lover will love. You can also get them from Netflix and while you're at it you might as well make a list for there is Frost, Midsomer Mysteries, Campion, Ruth Rendell Mysteries, P.D. James and a whole host of other mysteries that PBS and Netflix offers.
With winter coming soon and the mystery of autumn beginning this week this just the type of programing that will get you through those dark dreary days of winter and challenge your gray cells this fall.
Friday, September 17, 2010
How long does it take you to finish a small project, a medium project and a large project? For me it depends on wehter or not I stop off to do a small project inbetween larger projects. Ususally I can stitch a small project in an afternoon to three weeks. I don't stitch everyday but I am getting better at picking up the needle.
What was your last finished project? With the holidays coming soon are you spending more time stitching or about the same?
I actually am trying to spend more time stitching but that is because I want to try and increase my focus and to stay with something until it is completed.
What is the one cross stitch project that still speaks to you after all of these years ?
You know cross stitch is a form of self expression and it is also a form of art so what does your cross stitch say about you?
I do a lot of fun projects which tells me that I have very little fun (this may change soon) but for now I am sure that my stitching is a reflection of my want for fun and enjoyment. It also reflects how much I like certain holidays and my love of beauty. I like timeless projects that can be enjoyed now for fifty years from now.
Also I think a part of me remembers how much I enjoy books and enjoyed books growing up. Such as fables and fairie tales. I loved Peter Pan, Alice In Wonderland and Sleeping Beauty.
Today stitchers tell us how your stitching reflects who you are?
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Do you think that you have lived a past life? Who do you think you were and how does it reflect on who you are today?
For me I think I must have been a stitcher of some sort as I love hand work and most especially cross stitch. However I am not all that good at it in this life so I probably did not stitch for Kings and Queens of royality. More like I stitched in a shop of sorts.....
Writing the same way as I am not Mark Twain or Edgar Allen Poe. The topic is something to reflect on because I find that I have a lot o feelings of having lived another life before now and that I especially feel connected to the Victorian age and the 1940's decade. Maybe I've lived more than one past life......
Even if you do not believe in such things it is fun to ponder who you might have been in a past life.
I can't explain why but I keep reflecting on shops and clothing plus handiwork. I've dreamed dreams that make no sense to me especially set in another era.
So today let's chat about past lives and what they might mean to us today or what we can learn from a past life about the future....
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Would you read a cozy featuring an insurance investigator as your protag? How about a Taxi Driver as a protag? A Photographer who is a sleuth? For as many cozies as we have out there on the market there still seems to be only a few niches taken up with this genre. Today let's see if we can come up with some skills, job or area that might work for a protag or cozy mystery.
What are some of the tried and true occupations that you like in a cozy? I like bed-n-breakfast cozies and cruise cozies.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Have you ever thought about taking a recipe and building a mystery around it? I can see where bread pudding would have it's merits for a murder mystery. I don't like the taste of liver so I think any poison or wrong mushroom in something like a liver dish or casserole would be covered with the awful taste.
What meal, dish or casserole maybe dessert or salad do you think would make a great deadly meal to dine on? I ask this because I like culinary mysteries and I'm waiting for someone to come up with Dishes To Die For.....literally!
I'm also a cross stitcher and so I can picture a woman with anger issues stitching away as she plots her husband's favorite meal and of course the key to what she has done is in the sampler she stitches. Of course she wouldn't be the one to make the meal, serve the meal and may not even be there when he eats it as she must have an alibi.
I think someone who knows something about herbs I would want to keep on my good side as I wouldn't want to be a dinner guest if I was sure the person didn't like me much and only invited me to be polite.
Do you have a favorite culinary mystery series that you like? There are plenty of them out but not as many as before. The publishing world can be a cruel mistress....and these days she is more apt to pick another lover than try to stick with the tried and true.
Anyway thought I would give you food for thought as you go into your weekend!
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
What words would you like to drop from your vocabulary? If words are our canvas then I am in trouble. I have to say it all started with the word so because we I talk I use so or soooo (to drag out my meaning) and have been known when reflecting on a person of whose real name I don't want to use as so and so.....
What are some of your catch words that you would like to quit using or maybe you realized later that you didn't use that word in the proper context?
Another one for me is (But) "But I said, but I meant, but but but) and I might add I probably need to learn some new words and their meaning as I seem to use the same words over and over which of course if I notice this problem then I am sure other people notice it even more.
I'm afraid that my canvas might be a picture of a cloudy day. I say this because sometimes my words get in the way of th real meaning of my conversation.
Then of course we have the pesky words (the ones that end in ING), for the most part they can make your meaning and conversations weak.
Tell us what words you struggle with and how you feel about your canvas of words today.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Five Star’s Expressions line was truly a godsend for a lot of us whose books don’t fit neatly into specific genres. For instance, Daisy’s books can’t truly be considered romances, because she’s already married. They aren’t true mysteries, since the Powers That Be at Kensington asked me to take out the dead bodies and add a subsidiary romance to each book. Once I began doing that, I couldn’t very well go back and turn ‘em into real mysteries, could I? Well, maybe I could have, but I didn’t. So unless Five Star agrees to publish Daisy’s sixth book (ANCIENT SPIRITS) as a romantic suspense novel, I don’t know what I’ll do with it. Take it directly to Kindle? Try to find another publisher? Ha! That’ll never happen. The demise of Five Star’s Expressions line is a sad blow to many of us “out of the box” types.
So . . . piffle.
However, perhaps not everything is black. Jean Lamb, a fellow author who truly is a lamb and who reads and likes my books (I don’t know why it always comes as a shock to me that some people actually do read and enjoy my books, but it does) did a special tarot-card reading for me! This fits nicely with the Daisy theme, since Daisy herself is a spiritualist-medium to people who have more money than sense in Pasadena, CA in the early 1920s. Of course, Daisy’s a phony. Jean isn’t. Well . . . I don’t think she is, anyway.
Anyhoo, here’s Jean’s reading, and in it she makes a lot of sense and some good suggestions. She used the Celtic Cross method (which Daisy’s used a time or two, thanks to a book on tarot I bought when I began writing the books–although I never got the hang of the tarot as Jean and Daisy clearly did). The first thing one does when using the Celtic Cross method (from what I gather) is choose a Significator. I’m not quite sure what that means, but here’s the entire reading, and I can definitely relate to the Significator, even if I’m not positive what it is:
Significator: Four of Swords. You want to lie up and heal your wounds. Frankly, this is a good idea if you have the time to do it. You will be able to go forward much more easily if you take the time to recover, rather than forcing yourself into action.
Question: Page of Pentacles--you need to know what is going on out there in the publishing world. Things are changing rapidly, as you well know, and you want to know the reasons behind the events, not just the events themselves.
Opposing forces--Five of Swords. In the picture, someone stands on guard, holding swords, and clearly worried about thieves. This may be holding you back. I haven't been to your web page, so I don't know if you're already doing this, but at Baen Books, they have a free library so people can pick up the first of a series for free, become addicted, and purchase the rest. Now, they're a pretty large company, so they can afford to do things others can't. But it might be something to think about.
Foundation--Ace of Pentacles, reversed. Alas for the life of fame and fortune that is every writer's dream! I want the Standard Rich and Famous Contract, too (as spoken of in the first Muppet Movie), but it's not happening that way. Darn it! (Note from Alice: I had kind of already figured this one out for myself).
Influence passing away: Lovers, reversed. Someone made a choice (doesn't have to be you) that went for short-term gain instead of what was truly ethical. There might be something really interesting going on, which you would like to find out about. But it probably won't help you much even if you do, unfortunately.
Influence that may come into being: Nine of Swords. In fact, obsessing over How They Done You Wrong could be a wrong path for you, too. There are other publishers in the world, and who knows, Kindle, etc., might indeed be the wave of the future. You do have a loyal readership, which should be an asset when approaching another publisher. This is the card of nightmare--avoid it if you can. (Note from Alice: oh, goody)
Influence that will come into being--Eight of Wands. But before you end up too bogged down, you'll fall in love again, either with someone or with a new book. I know that I am happiest when I am dreaming my book and champing at the bit to find time to get it down. (Note from Alice: I’m happily writing PECOS VALLEY RAINBOW even as we virtually speak, and it’s going quite well. That sounds like a Good Thing).
Fears for the future--Queen of Cups. Perhaps you worry that you will never find true love again--but this card being upright means that it may be far more possible than you think. (Note from Alice: God help me).
Friends and Family--King of Cups, reversed. There's a man somewhere in your circle who is always used to getting his own way and is unpleasant when he doesn't get it. Could it be someone at your publishing company? Perhaps you're lucky not to be there any more after all.
Hopes for the future--Nine of Pentacles. This is a woman in a walled garden, alone, but happy and prosperous. In this card, she has a bird on her arm, but somehow I think your garden has dachshunds.
Summation--The World. Wow. Maybe God has opened both a door and a window this time. Follow your heart, and all will be yours--it will be scary, but worth the trouble. I can't think of a better card to end a reading on.
Anyway, rest up for now, try to find out what is really going on but don't obsess over it, and then be happy in new love. It will be the gateway to everything you ever wanted.
And there’s the entire reading. Thanks, Jean! Except for the new love thing (which kind of makes my insides curdle, me being possibly the worst picker-of-men in the known universe), it sounds as though things are going to work out one of these days. Mind you, at the moment my life’s in turmoil and I’m dreading the future primarily because I’m going to have to move, and my lower back spasms at the mere thought of that particular undertaking. But everything will work out all right in the long run! Therefore . . . I guess one must carry and look forward to things to come, right?
I truly appreciate the reading, Jean! By the way, if you’d like Jean to do a reading for you, you can get one for $25 by contacting Jean at email@example.com . Cheap at twice the price!
Friday, September 3, 2010
In your novel, each scene should be important. It should matter. It should move your story along, give important information to the reader, and reveal your characters for their true selves. In most cases, it should be a balance of dialogue, setting, and action. The greatest plot, the most colorful character, and wittiest dialogue won’t matter if scenes are cliché or boring.
Here are some things to think about as your write.
In life, you can get an idea of what someone is like by looking at them. But you won’t really know them until they speak. It’s the same with writing.
Dialogue brings your characters to life. Words, speech patterns and dialect reveal a great deal about them. Keep it crisp. Don’t bog your scene down with unnecessary phrases.
It’s a good idea to intersperse gestures, characters’ thoughts and actions with your dialogue. Use dialogue tags to make it easier for the reader to keep up with who’s saying what.
Most writers – myself included – love to do research. We spend hours on the Internet, in the library, and talking to experts to learn every detail of the world we’re creating for our novels. Unfortunately, readers aren’t always as excited about it as we are.
Too much exposition can bring a scene to a halt. The last thing you want is for a reader to grow bored with your descriptions and start to skim. Chances are, they’ll think twice before recommending your book to friends or buying the next one.
If a scene feels as if it’s dragging, try cutting some of your descriptions. Add more characters. Even a minor, throw-away character that causes problems can liven things up.
Keep it moving. While it’s important to have scenes in which your protagonist is thinking, analyzing clues or deciding what to do next, they don’t have to be dull. Try setting them in unusual places, or under difficult circumstances, such as while driving down a mountain road or walking through a dangerous neighborhood at dusk.
After writing each scene, ask yourself whether it has a purpose in your novel. Does it need to be there? Would it make any difference to your character or your plot if you took it out? If not, cut it.
Most importantly, have fun! If you’re having a good time writing your scenes, your reader will enjoy reading them.
Fan DOROTHY HOWELL NOVELS at www.Facebook.com
Thursday, September 2, 2010
How many of you have already started your cross stitch Christmas project and your Christmas Shopping? Are you making a quilt for Christmas or any other Christmas Prezzies? If so we want to hear about it today and have you found some really great Christmas bargins?
I know it is only September 2nd but the holidays are right around the corner and if you're book buying for Christmas you might be able to find some really sweet deals right now and the same goes for cross stitch patterns.
I usually pick up things all year round but this year I have been so busy it hasn't happened and I was just thinking today that I need to start thinking about what I want to do this year. I do know I am doing a stitched Christmas Sampler for my house.
However today I am starting my fall and Halloween stitching then will return to the sampler. I stayed up until 1:45 this morning to finish the snowman I was stitching and now will put the sampler aside until my fall projects are stitched.
So what about you how is the pre holiday stitching and shopping going for you this year?
Author M.C. Beaton
Mass Market Paperback: 176 pages
A Snowstorm. An old secluded mansion. An annoying old man who plays mean pranks on everyone around him. Throw in lots of money, and you know someone is gloing to kill him. And this house is full of suspects. Hamish has to sort through it all to solve the case. A really enjoyable mystery and I really didnt see where it was going to one clue was dropped and then it all started coming together in a very satisfying way.
Hamish Macbeth is one of my favorite characters. He is just such a regular guy kind of character who does have a sense for getting to the root of crimes (despite his superiors interference). And Lochludb (I may have spelle dthat wrong) is such an interesting little Scottish town.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
1. Missing Mabel by Nancy Mehl At
2. Three At My Door by Rex Stout At
3. Nine Lives Last Forever by Rebbeca M. Hale A
4. Dying For A Clue by Judy Fitzwater At
5. Manna From Hades By Carola Dunn Bt
6. Death Of A Trophy Wife by Laura Levine Bt
7. Murder On Elderberry Road by Sally Goldenbaum Bt
8. This Old Murder by Valerie Wolzien Bt
9. Ringing In Murder by Kate Kingsbury At
10. A Glimpse Of Evil by Victoria Laurie At
11. Mrs. Pollifax On Safari by Dorothy Gilman Bt
12. Death by Cashmere by Sally Goldenbaum A
13. The Hanging Tree by Bryan Gruley At
14. Bitter Sweets by G.A. McKevett Bt
Okay there was also Carolyn Hart's latest Death On Demand Mystery but I cannot remember the exact title. There was also another Selma Eichler and I do remember it being really good both books were probably A material. I have returned them to the library so that would be a totla of sixteen books for the month. Which is really good for me this month.
Author: Sally Goldenbaum
Genre: Classic Mystery Series
A QUEEN BEE QUILT MYSTERY
Hard Cover (LP)
Portia "Po" Paltrow is a quilter, a writer, and heads the Queen Bee Quilters Group in Crestwood, Kansas. Po loves to start her day jogging and takes the route by all the quaint shops on Elderberry Road but to her surprise she find Owsen Wilson dead and soon Jo and the other queen bee quilters discover that Owen was murdered.
The list of suspects grows and the eight members of the queen bee quilters begin to piece together more than a quilt although they are doing that too as in making their friend Selma an anniversary quilt using the Crystal Star Pattern that came out in the Kansas City Star piece by piece fifity years ago.
Owen was chairman of the Art History Department of Canterbury College and for the most part he well a well loved professor and while he had his opinions as of late the topic was changing the Elderberry Road quaint shops into a more mecca of progression. Po thought this was a poor idea but would anyone really murder Owen over a disagreement?
The police think it's robbery and he was a victim of being at the wrong place at the wrong time but Po doesn't think this makes sense since if someone were going to rob any of the shop it sure wouldn't be a quilt and dry goods shop?
The more she learns the more the quilters stitch together what happened that dreadful day and before long all roads and threads lead to one person with a motive to kill Owen Wilson. Howevr not before yet another murder happens maing their talent for sleuthing even more in demand.
MURDERS ON ELDERBERRY ROAD is a timeless classic of the american cozy mystery. If you're not a quilter you will still want to read this mystery because while the theme maybe quilting the subject murder.
I have a feeling that in this series the best is yet to be and we've already discovered that the cream does rise to the top in this series.
I give this one nine out of ten for being a cozy lover's dream mystery.