Saturday, March 18, 2006

A fine day

Warning: this is an official rambling.

I'm done with the winter semester! Okay, no one is overjoyed but me. True, I still have one semester left, but it's only one class, and it's an easy class. What this means, my friends, is that I have time to get back to the writing game. A good thing. Especially since I got one of those rejections from a big Christian publishing house that requested I send something else. I love it when that happens. True, I'd love it more if they sent a contract, but I'll take a good compliment from an editor.

Now what to send? They rejected the suspense. Though, truth be told, it wasn't a real good fit for that publisher. I'm just about to start my cozy mystery, but hadn't intended on giving it a strong enough spiritual thread to sell to a Christian publisher. Now I may change that. It won't change the story any, but I have to be more careful. I could say I won't bother with this particular house, but I ain't crazy. When you get an opening, you work it. I'm workin' it.

So, as I sit here watching Jaws (they just put the third barrel in Bruce) and enjoying the opportunity to do absolutely nothing of value for a few hours, I'm thinking about my novels. Not just the ones I've written--you know, the training novels--but the good ones that are straining out of me now. I can't wait. But I will, at least until Bruce explodes into the world's largest bait pile.

By the way, the back's feeling much better today. Funny how that works. No more school work, no more pain.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Flat on my back and novels #7 & 8

Have you ever tried to write while in a prone position? I'm tellin' ya, it ain't easy, that's why there's been little to no activity on this blog for over a week. After almost a month and seven or eight trips to my very wealthy chiropractor, I'm still not up to sitting for long periods. Standing is slightly better. Walking is great, but I find it difficult to do for eight hours straight. Keep running into walls, chairs, co-workers and friends.

However, I have read two other novels since my last post, A Clue for the Puzzle Lady by Parnell Hall was the first. I enjoyed this one. It was a mystery of the old school. Fun characters, fun clues, and a free crossword puzzle, which I didn't do. I figured the librarian would complain. I recommend this one for cozy mystery fans and authors. It maintains the basic spirit of a good mystery and the crossword gimmick is great. Donald Maas mentions it in his Breakout Novel book.

Grift Sense by James Swain was the second. This, too, was an enjoyable mystery, one that involved no corpse, by the way. I'm not a gambler, having a simple knowledge of statistics and all, but I enjoyed the character of Tony Valentine, a retired cop who now spends his days sniffing out hustlers in Vegas and other such places. Tony has morals in his totally corrupt surroundings. He doesn't gamble himself, doesn't drink, and **gasp** has only slept with his wife, now dead. I did find it hard to feel sorry for the casino owners getting ripped off. I mean, really, poor babies. Those who've made vast fortunes taking money from suckers now find themselves getting swindled. Swain makes it fascinating, though, going into a bit of detail how the scams are pulled off and the excessive measures casino owners, cops, and state gaming agencies take to prevent the cheaters from prevailing. While the book contained the language expected from this type and the sex was present, though minimal, I enjoyed it. Tony Valentine is a detective we feel lilke we can get behind and root for.

Okay, I've done my duty and updated my blog. If you'll envision me lying on my bed, in sweats, two pillows under my legs, one on my stomach, with my laptop propped on it and tilted downward, you'll understand why writing is a chore. Maybe I'll invent a two-piece keyboard so I can lay them on either side of me and type that way. I'd never get the numbers straight, though.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Novel #6

If you're wondering why I'm numbering the novels I've read, it's because I vowed to read 24 this year, going along with the idea that a writer must read. Since I've read six in two months, even while taking two MBA classes, I don't think I'll have any trouble. Of course, that might explain my grades.

The latest is Flat Crazy by Ben Rehder. I discovered him by doing a Google search on "humourous" and "mystery." Ben's a good writer, I like his style. I've discovered, though, that the mystery genre is rather wide reaching. Flat Crazy, and, I'm assuming, the rest of his novels, isn't a mystery so much as a crime story. No complaints, I love 'em all. We know who the killer is right away. The challenge is for a rural police force and a game warden, John Marlin, our protagonist, to figure out who the killer is. In Blanco County, Texas, which is chock full of rednecks and poachers, the list can be pretty extensive.

I picked up this book because it's the direction I'm going with my writing. Like Ben, I love the outdoors and I love a good mystery. Combining the two only seems natural (pun intended). Ben does a good job of bringing us into the world of what many would consider "lower class," men who live for a few weeks in the fall, or early winter in Texas' case, to chase whitetail deer. It's a fun story, the characters, especially Red and Billy Don, are a hoot. I wish he'd developed John Marlin more for those of us who didn't start with the first book in the series. The tough game warden is everything a hero/detective should be.

Of course, I have issues as well. Like too many secular novelists now, Ben uses a huge amount of sexual inuendo and foul language. It definately doesn't pass the "would I let my kid read this?" test. That's too bad, because I think he's got the talent to make it good without all that. I mean really, he wrote in a number of scenes involving dwarf Chinese porn stars (in action) just to get a stolen deer mount into the hands of the cops. It was unecessary--funny, but I still think he could have done better.

Like I said, Ben's a good writer and the story is entertaining. I'll be reading the first in the series soon.

By the way, I am an official member of Mystery Writers of America now. We'll see how that works out. The folks on the mail loop have been great already. I'm staying with ACFW as well. Can't have too many connections, you know.