Saturday, February 25, 2006

Novel #5 and funny stuff

I finally read Hostage by Robert Crais because one of my "How to write a doggone good breakout novel in 30 hours" type books said it rocked. It did. Most dimwits like me would have been happy to come up with a plot about two kids being held hostage by three punks. Does Crais settle? No way. The house where the kids are held is the house of an accountant who fixes the books for a mafia family, so they decide to "own" the hero, kidnapping his wife and daughter. And we all know they'll still kill wifey and kid, even if they get what they want. And, oh, that's not enough. One of the punks in the house turns out to be a serial killer, unbeknownst to the other two punks. They find out the hard way. I thought the hero (played by a bald Bruce Willis in the movie version) got a little too lucky at the very end, but it didn't matter. I was glued after about page 40. I'm never glued from page 1, so that's pretty good.

Okay, I promised funny stuff. After our little Story Board experiment (which I must post on next), I've decided that my odd sense of humor needs a home. So, my next novel will be a cozy mystery with a bit of humor thrown in. I figure it hasn't been overdone, and certainly not in the CBA. Keep that in the back of your fuzzy little mind.

We're at Borders yesterday and I spy a new release with Pat McManus's name on the cover. All writers have their little secrets. Mine is an avid devotion to Pat McManus. He was the funny guy in Outdoor Life. He referred to his wife as "Bun," his dog "Strange," and his sister, "The Troll." His stories covered his current wanderings or were flashbacks of his childhood growing up in the Idaho woods (Blight, Idaho, to be specific). You get the point, he's funny. If you doubt, grab a copy of "They Shoot Canoes, Don't They?", a collection of his short stories.

So, I spy his name on the cover of a new release. You know what it is? Huh? It's a mystery! Set in Blight, Idaho! I've found (or re-found) my mentor. I'm sure he's not as goofy through the length of a novel as he is in a 1,000 word monthy piece, but it should still be fun. I was too cheap to lay down the $25, so I'll wait for paperback or the library. He hunts, fishes, and writes lies for a living, so I don't feel obligated to support him. It would make a fine Father's Day present, though.

I did, however, buy his "How to Write a Doggone Good Novel with Nothing but a Toothbrush and a can of Spam" type of book. That's on my shelf, still. And I paid full Border's price. So there.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Novel #4 and other things to read

A Midsummer Night's Scream by Jill Churchill is one of those quickly read cozy mysteries that are more like a puzzle than a story. While the plot was good and I had fun trying to solved the puzzle, her characters could have used a little more life. Her protag is Jane Jeffry, a single mom in the Chicago suburbs who happens to date a detective (always helpful for the amateur sleuth). Mostly, I love the titles of her books. They're all twists on Shakespeare plays and other famous dramas (Silence of the Hams is my favorite). Once again, though, Churchill's heroine is a mom with children at home, yet her boyfriend/cop and her often spend the night at each other's homes. It never actually happens in the story, but it's insinuated. Over all, it's a fun read, and fast, lots of humor, too, which I find important.

I just picked up Putting Your Passion Into Print by Arielle Eckstut & David Sterry. Terry Whalin recommended it. It's basically what the title says. If you're going to write anything, you must understand how the publishing industry works and how you can market your product. So far, it's quite inspirational and full of sidebars of what others have done to sell their books. I can already see that the publishing world is no place for the meek. I'll keep you posted as I read through it (I tend to read several books at the same time, so I move a little slow).

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Too Cozy

Okay, I'm having writer identity issues. I love my suspense novels, especially the supernatural type. And that's what I've set out to write. There was the slight diversion into romantic suspense, thanks to the Fearsome Foursome (aka. Fantastic Four), but it's still suspense. But I also love to slow down the pace and pick up a cozy, or not so cozy, mystery. I find that my writing pattern is matching my reading pattern. I have this strong desire to write a cozy mystery (series, hopefully) based on a retired detective who opens a diner in northern Michigan (God's country).

My friend Robin is gagging as we write/read. In her not-so-humble opinion, there must be the shedding of blood, or we have no story. I, however, love over the top characters as much as a love a good shock. In a suspense, the characters have to be pretty realistic. In a cozy mystery, you can have realistic or totally outrageous. If you read Story Board, you see I have a tendancy toward the outrageous.

So what's a writer to do? We're told to find our niche and stick to it. Sometimes I picture myself writing under two different names, one for suspense, one for mysteries. I'm sure many of my buds have this same problem. I know all of my CPs have toyed in more than one genre. Eventually you have to make a decision. Who knows, maybe Stephen King will come out with a chick lit next year. His chick will, undoubtedly, grow fangs every full moon, but still...

I guess if having too many ideas is my biggest problem, I'm doing okay.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


It's February in Michigan. It's cold. It's snowing. I'm halfway through this semester and only one more to go to get my MBA. In the midst of all this, the Fearsome Foursome (me, Robin, Ronie, and Dineen) had a call from a publisher that had us scrambling to get our manuscripts in order. All this while I'm writing term papers, taking online tests, and, oh yeah, having a life. Today said publisher gave us the old heave-ho. It takes a bit of pressure off but was still a disappointment. It wouldn't be so bad if it were just me, but these ladies have worked so hard and, after not even a year of knowing them, I want so much to see them published. I have these recurring nightmares (in the daytime) that a publisher sends us a note saying "Great series! But that Ron guy really dragged you down!"

Okay, I'm not that bad. But it does add to the pressure element when others are counting on you. That's the one nice thing about writing--you're failure is your own. No one else to blame. On the other hand, with others counting on me, it sure pushes me to do my best.

I'm determined to get onto writing subjects on this blog. School takes up most of my time now, though. I'll catch up after the snow melts and the Tigers start another losing season. Wait for me!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Brandilyn Collins at Dineen's Place

No, Brandilyn isn't sacked out on Dineen's couch, though they both live in California, so they must be close. For those of you who don't know Brandilyn Collins, get off the porch! She is the unofficial Queen of Christian Suspense. She's broken new ground for those of us who want to write good fiction and also want to write for our Lord. Dineen Miller has interviewed Brandilyn on her blog, Kittens Come from Eggs (which won the unoffical award for "most original blog name"). The link is on the right. No, down a little. No, that's her website, which is also really cool. There ya go! Now click! Go! Oh, wait, you don't see this anymore if you've clicked. Come back! I wanted to tell you about my homework assignment--a paper about the World Trade Organization. You wouldn't want to miss that would you?