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Showing posts from January, 2021

Have Your Say - The Cliffhanger Dilemma

  Sketch by Ingmar Drewing It's not a new trend: in the 1800s, the likes of Charles Dickens and George Eliot had their works published as serializations, and readers had to wait (patiently or impatiently, it made no difference) for the next installment to come out. What is new(er) is the ability of readers to post instant reviews and voice their disapproval of an author's reader-baiting tactics. Like these in the image below (click image to enlarge).  This author and series will remain anonymous, for obvious reasons. One of the reviews mentions three books, but the series has developed into at least six books since that was posted. Aside from the complaints that the books in this series are far too short to be sold as full-length novels, the biggest grumbles stem from the cliffhanger endings blatantly intended to hook the reader into purchasing the next installment in the series. So intent is the author on this tactic that, apparently, some of the books are truncated at odd poi

Writers Gotta Read, Right? – Series

 Reading a new book in a beloved series is like settling down with a nice cuppa to chat with an old friend. And who couldn’t use a little bit of that kind of comfort during a pandemic, when meeting face-to-face with living friends is dicey business? So, without more ado, here are some lists that list “best of” series in various genres.  Let’s start with a little ROMANCE (since we are closing in on February): She Reads Romance Books lists The Best Romance Series to Binge Read  (I’ve read very few romances but will admit I’m rather fascinated by the mention of a series featuring a family of “bearded men of Tennessee .” Who would've guessed you could make a series based on bearded men???) Bookriot offers 19 of the Best Romance Book Series for Adult Readers   Goodreads gets into the act with Listopia’s Best Adult Romance Series   Now, how about mystery? Bookbub lists 13 of the Best Mystery Series to Read Right Now Back we go to Bookriot, for 16 Mystery Book Series that Keep the Twists

The Standalone that Became a Series

When I wrote Mind Games , the first book in my Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series, I had no idea it would become a series. The idea of a villain with the same psychic abilities as my heroine intrigued me, but in my mind, it was a standalone novel. The villain, a man who plays psychic “mind games” with Diana, is eager to prove that he is the superior psychic. He almost wins. People die, and Diana plays a deadly game to be the bait to catch him. The book takes place in New Orleans, which is the setting for all four books. Diana joins forces with Ernie Lucier, a mixed-race police lieutenant, who at first thinks she’s a charlatan (she is, in a way), and who finally sees her psychic ability is real. He becomes her partner, friend, and lover in subsequent books. To make matters more complicated, Diana’s father is a good-old-boy southern racist. Interestingly, one reviewer said that plot point was ridiculous because racism was all but dead. Hmm. Wonder what she’d think if she read it today.

The irresistible Miss Phryne Fisher

If you haven't been introduced to Kerry Greenwood's twenty-one book cozy mystery series set in 1920s Melbourne, Australia, you are in for a treat. I streamed the entire series and read all the books in 2020. Phrynne Fisher (pronounced fry-nee) is a delightful amateur sleuth. Her war experience and intelligence work make her capacity for finding trouble believable. Her rags to unexpected riches backstory means Phrynne is free to do as she pleases and does not care who she offends. She returns to Australia from England, after a brief post war detour as a bohemian in Paris, to set up shop as a detective. In the television series, the costumes and sets are a feast for the eyes. The first television series follows the books fairly closely, with two exceptions I will discuss later. The writers were successful in maintaining the characters and feel of the books in the subsequent cases. Relationships in the books are slightly different than in the series. In the books, Phrynne's b

2021 Workshops and Conferences January to March

  Whether a one day session, one week conference, or a month-long writing workshop, writing related events are a good way to commune with other writers. They are opportunities to network and get your name out there. In some instances, you can meet and mingle with editors and agents. Some offer critiques or pitching sessions. Nowhere will you find a higher concentration of introverts enjoying each other's company. Local conferences are a good place to meet potential critique groups or recruit members. Some are free. Some require a fee. Some are more social than others. Many are for new writers, but a few dig deep into craft. You should choose an event that speaks to your needs and desires. Unfortunately with the pandemic, many in-person events have been cancelled. Some have been replaced with virtual events, podcasts, or online classes and lectures. Virtual events allow for a wider audience and lower costs since attendance does not require travel and lodging. January 7 - 17, 2021  T

Once Upon a Series

As a child, I almost always read series books rather than stand-alones. Nancy Drew. Beverly Gray. The Hardy Boys. The Dana Girls. Nancy Drew and Beverly Gray stood out as my favorites. During my pre-teen and early teen years, I preferred the Beverly Gray books because they seemed to the young me to be better written. The fact they were all written by the same author (Clair Blank) may have contributed to that preference. They may also contribute to my ongoing interest in series writing — albeit several decades later. A few months ago, I decided to turn my two completed novels into a series by introducing a new protagonist in Book 1 and adding her to Book 2 and beyond. It sounded like a great idea (to me at least), and I loved the developing character. However, working her seamlessly into Book 1 proved far more challenging than I anticipated.  The time involved added another dimension of difficulty. I need to have a second book ready to go out the door to my layout and marketing guy with

Continuing a Series, or Not?

As a reader I have always enjoyed mystery series. That started with the Grand Dame of mystery Agatha Christie with her delightful characters Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. Then it was John D. McDonald and the Travis McGee series. A few years later I stumbled upon the 87th Precinct Series by Ed McBain, the alter-ego of Evan Hunter, and that's what stirred my interest in police procedural mysteries. There are so many other series that I've enjoyed. Sue Grafton's alphabet series with Kinsey Millhone. Dennis Lehane's series with Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro, a much too short series for me. Louise Penney' s series with Armand Gamache and a whole cast of intriguing characters. Timothy Hallinan's Poke Rafferty series set in Bangkok that recently ended, much to the dismay of this reader and many others. For a reader, when a series ends, it's like we've lost a whole family. That's especially true if there've been a lot of books, or even just

Interview with Jack Castle

Today I have the pleasure of talking to Jack Castle, author of the  Stranger World series.  How did you get into writing Science Fiction and Fantasy?   First, thank you for having me. I love talking about writing with anybody who will listen. To begin, I’ve always-always wanted to write stories, even back when I was a little kid. My friends were content to simply shoot each other with a “Bang, you’re dead,” but I always had to come up with these complicated backstories like we were time travelers from the future sent back to W.W. II to carry out some secret mission that would save the world. For some reason, my character always had to be twenty-four. I never did figure out why. As for my publishing journey. I suppose it really comes down to three key moments:  First, deciding how I wanted to write. Secondly, the road to traditional publishing. Thirdly, deciding to self-publish my SciFi/fantasy series  Stranger World . Back in the late nineties, George Lucas selected me to play a Han So

Addicted to Reading Mystery Series

When I first started writing, I tried a mystery series starring Sylvia Thorn and Willie Grisseljon, a sister and brother who were older. In their 60s, as a matter of fact. Their elderly parents are still alive and active as well. Writing The Prairie Grass Murders and The Desert Hedge Murders was fun, but I wanted to try a thriller, and historical fiction, and short stories, so off I went to dabble in a variety of genres. I also read in almost every genre, including non-fiction, but when I’m looking for mysteries, I start with my go-to favorites among the authors of the Rocky Mountain states, most of them in Colorado. With all the excellent writers here, one hardly needs to search anywhere else in the country. I couldn’t begin to mention them all in one blog post, so I’m going to talk about just a few of the ones I’ve read in 2020. My want-to-read list for 2021 is is even longer. Shannon Baker Shannon lives in Arizona these days, but she spent lots of time in the state of Colorado and