Saturday, June 30, 2012

Female Mystery Authors

Today I decided to share the links to blogs that I enjoy reading. Each of these individuals has something to say, an presents itin a very interesting manner. Enjoy!

G.M. Malliet

Kathleen Kaska

Marian Allen

Cecelia Peartree

Kill Zone Authors

As an added extra - Murder, Mystery and Mayhem

Last, but not least, I had to include this blog! It is not about authors, not is it about writing. It is about something that is high up on my bucket list - how to set up a mystery dinner! Dinner and a Murder Mystery

A few author sites to round things out!

Mary Higgens Clark

Janet Evanovich

Sue Grafton

J. A. Jance

Laurie R. King

Anne Rice

Lisa Scottoline

(c) June 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Writing A Mystery

I am so pleased that after this week I will be able to place my focus on my WIP - my lovely little mystery! I am stopping to think about how I want this process to go - I want to define the process, even though I know it will get fine tuned along the way. I took the first step already - I started the writing. Actually, I started the writing in 2010 for NANOWRIMO. I made several attempts to fine tune what I had written, which lead nowhere. I finally decided to keep (most) of the characters, change the setting, and tweak the plot line.

I am going to write my bible first - thoroughly detailing my characters, their backgrounds, the environment they move in, and how they are inter-connected in the web of their world. Then I am going to outline my plot, and allow the writing to flow!

One thing that I do know - I tend to edit to a small extent as I write. This is not something that holds me back, it is something that allows me to have a nice, clean manuscript in front of my face. Spelling errors checked, punctuation checked - life looking good!

Another important thing to decide before beginning to write is what voice do you want your book in? Who is going to be telling the story, and how are they going to tell it? First person? Third person? Do whatever you are comfortable with. Go back and reread your favorite authors. What voice do they write in? You are not trying to be a mini-me, you just want to sound real, and consistent.

My characters are already part of me - they are pushing my current project so they can get their chops out there! I know they will interact in a manner that is unique to them. I have often found that my writing takes on its own edge - it writes itself. I will have to reign in my characters, rather than trying to flesh them out! They will be the best of the best of all of the people that have moved through my life, or that I have observed along the way. My characters will "have" character, and they will "be" characters!

Some stories never get written because the writers who imagine them never move them from the imaginal world into the real world. Spend time working at your craft, people! Sit down and write! Every day!

Have fun with this! I know that I am going to!

June 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Read, Read, Read!

One of the predominate pieces of advice given to authors is to "read, read, read!" I can understand that - we need to read anything and everything, so that we have a storehouse of ideas to fall back on for writing. I found out this week that there is another reason for reading ... to understand a genre. I decided to finally read a couple of cozy mysteries that I had in my Kindle library. What an eye opener!

Kindle is fine - I had no problem reading the books. They were gentle mysteries, which is what I had expected. They were both set in small towns, with that small town feel to them.That was fine too. Both of them had coherent story lines, which was good. But they were so alike that I actually went back to look at the pictures of the authors - both women - to see if perhaps they were the same woman! There seems to be a formula out there - single female, returns home after the big city did not work out, meets up with old boyfriend (who is now married), meets new boyfriend, has a crisis that comes into her life that she must solve (this would be the mystery part of the novel). The stories were good, but not that good. Something to keep in mind when writing my own!

So why else do we want to keep reading new material? One reason might be to see how others write. To see what is good about their writing, and what doesn't quite make the grade. As authors, we want our readers to enjoy our work, to talk about our work (who knows, perhaps Oprah would hear about us!), to recommend our books, and to keep purchasing our books. Longevity, that's a good goal for all writers!

By reading as much as we can, we really get to know the different styles of writing, the different voices that are out there. We have a broader choice in finding and developing our own unique voice if we not only have something to say, but have a consistent way of saying it. We need to see how words are presented, the pictures that they can paint. We need to see how to develop connections between thoughts that are both viable and exciting. We need to retain the interest of our readers, after all!

We need to challenge ourselves - to take material and make something new and different out of it. I certainly do not want my readers going back like I did this past week, to see if I was writing under different names! I don't want my style of writing so close to someone else that my readers cannot distinguish who I am.

I don't mean to imply that reading books should be a personal improvement project. Enjoy what you are reading. If you don't, put it down, and pick up something else. You don't have to make notes ont he writing style, just allow it to seep into your subconscious. It will be there when you need it. You will be surprised at the number of times you will be writing something, only to recognize immediately that there is either a better way of saying what you are saying, a better way to leave a clue, or a better way to connect characters. You will not know why you see this,but you can bet that it is because you have been reading, and the information is stored in your brain, where you can easily access it.

To get you started - 10 Books Every Writer Should Read

(c) June 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Cozy Mysteries Defined

My chosen genre for writing is the cozy mystery. It just feels right to me. So, how do I describe this to other people? What kind of writing am I doing, exactly? I know what kind of story I want to convey - one that is a good mystery, gentle in nature, and with the kind of story-line that keeps my readers coming back. My main character is not a policeman, or a detective, or anything close to that. She is an everyday person who falls into these adventures ... adventures that sometimes boggle the mind, and sometimes tug at the heart strings. They involve the present, the past ... and sometimes the future. They are real adventures, focusing on real people. My characters are not airheads ... quite the opposite. They are intelligent people who know how and where to go to get the help that they need to solve a crime. And they can recognize a crime when they see on, even if no one else does! Pets ... especially cats ... will show up in my stories. So will the Internet. So will political issues, when appropriate. Whatever affects my characters lives is fair game for my stories! What can you expect NOT to see in my writing? Violence, gore, cursing, explicit scenes of any kind. My readers will need to have a fair amount of imagination themselves, and be willing to become part of the game. it is a game, you know. The solving of puzzles, the solving of crimes. Maybe I need to aim to be a present day, female version of Nero Wolf's character Archie Goodwin. That would be fun! Miss Marple is a bit stodgy, even for me. I would like to have a bit of an edge, like the Snoop sisters. Now, they have class! Then there is the sidekick issue. I am thinking more of a group of women ... women that know each other well. One woman will be the main character, the rest will be sidekicks. Each woman will be allowed to let her light shine when needed, and each woman will have her flaws. Think Fern Michaels' "Sisterhood" series here. I am looking forward to digging in and doing some real work to kick-start this series. Wishing each of you much happiness and success with your writing!
(c) June 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Writing Believable Characters

This is really a continuation on last weeks blog about creating characters. One thing that we need to see in characters, as well as in the story line, is believability. If a character does not seem believable, even in a fiction story, then you are not going to retain the reader's interest, and you are not going to be able to build your story. if you try to do so, your characters themselves will simply refuse to fit together the way that you want them to.

Start with their name. Names are everything! They reflect our cultural background, our family background, and the times that we were born into. Our name, in a sense, IS who we are. So give your characters names that reflect who they are, and where they came from. If you like their name, but they don't ... change the name! Characters are powerful people! Your characters names need to have a rhythm, a cadence of their own. And it probably is not a good idea to have different characters int he same book with the same name. This ends up somewhere between boring and confusing for the reader. Remember ... both the reader and your character have to be able to accept and relate to the character's name! As I revise my first attempt at a mystery, I decided to start over again on both location and character names. The story line will remain basically the same, but tweaked to remain in the area of possible/plausible.

One thing that I had to remember is that some of the characters from my first book will be carried forward, as I want this to be a series. As the series grows, my characters will grow. To do that, they need a firm foundation, and viable connections to each other. They have to be able to function through varying story lines, which is making me stop and think about what I want them to say and do. My main character I have firmly in mind. I know who she is, how she thinks, how she acts/reacts. The protagonist is another thing. The protagonist in my first story may be my main character ... that seems to work for me. The role of the hero (the person who saves the day) is not relegated to one person in my book. it is a group of friends that function well together. My antagonist - the ultimate "bad guy", is a combination of a single person and the group behind him. The obstacle is not a character, but a belief. it is something that affects all of the characters in some manner. Logic and emotion find their balance in my character's world. The archetype of sidekick for the series I am writing doesn't seem relevant, as the main character works to solve the issues of the story with other people.

Taking all of this into consideration - as well as the story bible that I discussed last week, I feel that I am well on my way to creating a viable story line!

(c) June 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

How To Get Characters To Interact

You have your plot worked out, and you have defined your  characters . The next step is getting your characters to play nice and interact...