Sunday, November 29, 2009

Getting Busy Writing Anew After Promotion

I wrote the first three chapters of the third Niki Alexander mystery several months ago. Seems like ages ago. Everytime I revisited the work, I stalled. With the second book, Lost Witness, just out in October - actually the night before I went to Bouchercon in Indianapolis - I knew I had to promote the book. Too late, I told myself, to get my publicist, PJ Nunn, involved. But I had to do something - get reviews, get signings. Just before Lost Witness came out, A Box of Texas Chocolates, The Final Twist Anthology, which carried my story, "Dying for Chocolate" was released and the authors were promoting. Then, of course, I had my full time job at Black Pearl Exploration.

To tell you the truth, I felt overwhelmed. I've done a few signing for A Box of Texas Chocolates and none for Lost Witness. I'm waiting for a date with Murder By The Book. By word of month, I've sold several copies - not enough - and sent my book out for reviews, put up my author page on Amazon and Goodreads, let people know on Facebook, but there's always more to do.

At the same time I was finishing a short story for next year's Final Twist Anthology with the Texas Landmark theme. Once I finished, I was given the opportunity to edit other stories which would be included. That took time.

Don't let me forget Mystery Writers of America and getting out the Sleuth Sayer for the Southwest Chapter and doing my Treasurer duties, and being on the nominating committee for next year's election. A lot of work for a national organization who won't even recognize my published books. But that's another story for another day. No more whining.

All this time, the third book is calling me. I'm always thinking of the plot and the characters and what goes next. I read over the three chapters. I didn't have a clue where to go next. I bought 3x5 cards. I set my eisel in the office next to my writing desk so I could do a story board. Materials were ready, but I was not. Darn!

So finally, I got most of the other stuff done and out of the way. Thanksgiving is finally over with, thank God! We won't even go there. Too personal. Maybe another day I'll write about my family's dysfunction. For now I'll write fiction.

So I spent most of the weekend rehashing the backstory of Niki and the characters that people my untitled manuscript. I found something I didn't expect. I found my original character sketch of Niki Alexander. She wasn't the same person I wrote in Less Dead and Lost Witness. Most of her character was there, but several paragraphs of her past had never come up. In fact, I'd forgotten the character I had imagined back then. Maybe that part belonged to another character whose story I haven't written yet and but will someday. So I rewrote her biography the way she turned out in my books. Now I had to face the actual writing.

It took quite a while and then I realized what was wrong. I didn't like the first three chapters. It had a good hook, but I couldn't make sense of it. What I had didn't go where I wanted, or how I had planned in the beginning. I needed it to start with a problem that I could fix. The new problem that I discovered by doing the synopsis. I had to kick life into the characters and get to the main plot. So the first three chapters went away.

I've only written three pages so far, but I like what I have and I'll keep writing. I still have several hours of writing time today. So until later, I bid you adieu. No more procrastinating.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Talent Show

The talent show at Bouchercon was fantastic. Anyone there will tell you the same. Above is my roommate for the festivities, Roberta Rogow, a wonderful singer.

When Don Brun emailed everyone for volunteers to be a part of a talent show at Bouchercon 2009, I plunged ahead without even thinking. What was I thinking? Good gravy! It's been 40-some years and a good 40 pounds less since I performed as a dancer. But I couldn't resist. I still love to dance, but haven't in public in a very long time. Still, when the music plays, I sway. My feet move, my hips swivel, my hands take off on their own. What the heck? Why not? My new book came out the night I left Houston, so how else would I get recognized? Darn, I'm a writer, not a dancer.
Here is Parnell Hall, Peter Lovesey and friends, and Don Brun.
And then there was me.

I was the only dancer.

2009 Bouchercon

Indianapolis was a delightful town, though I didn't see much of it. The cool weather, however, was welcome after the 90 degrees Houston experienced during that time.
I arrived by plane from Houston on Wednesday in time for the SinC Workshop with Donald Maass. What a wealth of information. I scribbled, I scratched, I disappeared into my story and emerged with new ideas, hardly able to wait to get back to my laptop and let my fingers flow my brain. I was ignited, mind filled eratically. Could I possibly remember everything before I flew back home and captured it all in my computer? Well, I'm back now, with so much to do and to catch up with job, family, and other writing commitments. Yes, it is still in my head somewhere, simmering, growing, almost ready for birth.
Thursday, the panels began. So many to choose from, each filled with information I had to have. I had to decide which best fit my writing, my story, my mystery and my characters. This could be hard because so many panels fit perfectly. Men, Women & Murder Through the Ages. Okay, I don't write historicals, but I wanted to meet Tony Hays, a new member in the Southwest Chapter of MWA. Well worth the hour, and I got his book.
Heroes for our Times sounded like another relevant one. After all, isn't Niki Alexander a hero to the teenagers she counsels? Murder, Therapy and Social Work. Now that fit Niki. She was a social worker, therapist, counselor. This led to Suddenly I'm Thirsty with Con Lehane, Chris Knopf, J.A. Konrath, Jason Pinter and Tom Schreck. All their characters drank. Niki's an ex-drinker, so I figured she would fit right in. I couldn't help but notice that Joe Konrath and Tom Schreck both had bottles of beer in front of them and drank without shame during the panel. They fit right in.
Then there was Adaptation. Novels to Screen and back. I'm also a screenwriter. Did I ever mention that? These guys know what they're talking about. Sean Chercover has a movie in the works. They made a movie from one of Joe Finder's books, too. Paul Guyot is a screenwriter working with Sean's book.
Them came the presentation of the Barry, Macavity, Derringer and Crime Spree Awards. The night ended at the Gameworks in Circle Center Mall. I spend my time there performing in the Talent Show. Pictures will follow.
Friday came early, but I was ready for the panels, especially since some of my favorite authors were on first. More Noir Than You Are featured Christa Faust, Victor Gischler, Charlie Newton and Jeri Westerson. These folks portray a world that's gritty and real as the cops and the streets make it. What is more natural to follow them than The Dark Side of the Fair Sex with Megan Abbott, Chelsea Cain, Sophie Littlefield and Derek Nikitas. Woman can write noir, too.
A treat was in store following lunch. Michael Connelly interviewed by Michael Koryta.
The afternoon continued with P.J. Parrish, Charlaine Harris and Julie Kramer, among others, talking about How I Met My Protagonist, and finished with a bang with Michelle Gagnon, Linwood Barclay, Andrew Gross, Erica Spindler and Michael Robotham for The Fabled One-Sitting Read. But who can read that fast? These are authors whose characters I like to spend time with and really lose myself in their stories.
The evening ended, for me, with the Rex Stout/Nero Wolfe Banquet. Five courses, each with their own wine, prepared by the chefs Nero Wolfe himself would laud, served by the finest servers, one to each table. But we all had to participate. Some little rhyme or song each table had to come up with and perform for the room. Luckily, our table was blessed by several of the Wolfe pack and P.J. Parrish, who came up with a fitting song and which we performed brillantly.
Saturday we were up early again to meet David Morrell, Laura Benedict, Lee Child and Gayle Lynds for Thrillers! Following them notable authors were none other than Michael Connelly, Sue Grafton, Peter Lovesey, John Lutz and Sara Paretsky celebrating Edgar Allen Poe.
The afternoon continued with Issues, Entertainment or Both? The answers came from Carl Brookins, Cara Black, Mark Coggins, Libby Fischer Hellmann and Mark T. Sullivan. I like to write about issues, sometimes want to chew them up to the point of sounding preachy. But then I stop myself. Have to find the right tone. Speaking of tone, what about Dark Books For Dark Times with Reed Farrel Coleman, Larry Beinhart, J.T. Ellison, Michael Lister and Duane Swiercynski. What more could you ask for?
Answer? Anthony Awards Ceremony. You all know by now who won, right? Later, I was swept up by Sophie Littlefield and her friends for dinner at the Wine Tasting and party at a blues club, where I caught a dance with Joe Konrath. (He probably wouldn't remember, but I do.)
The Bazaar finished us up on Sunday. Rows and rows of tables filled with free books, and fans lined up through the lobby end to end. A fitting climax to a wonderful four days.