Mystery Mondays: Author P.J. Lazos on Writing Exercises

Today on Mystery Mondays we welcome author P.J. Lazos. Also known as Pam, she wrote OIL WATER,  about oil spills and green technology. She’s also an environmental lawyer, so I’m guessing she knows what she’s writing about. Sound interesting? You can find out more after her guest post.

If you need help getting your creativity working, this is the blog for you. Over to Pam.

A Prompt Prompt Prompted Me Promptly by P.J. Lazos

Prompt. The word is fascinating and versatile. It’s a noun, a verb, an adjective and an adverb. Holy guacamole, how often does that happen? It’s like winning the EGOT — Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony, a laudable goal shared by only 12 lucky and hardworking people. It makes you wonder, is there anything a word like that can’t do? (I found a blog post on the internet that listed 56 similarly situated words (https://onweb3.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/663/); prompt hadn’t made the list.)

I wish I would have thought of prompt during one of the timed writing exercises I used to do with a friend in the now defunct Borders cafeteria. We’d sip fancy coffees and rip small strips of paper from our notebooks, then write one word down on each slip of paper, three nouns, three verbs and three adjectives, eighteen slips of paper total, separated into three different piles. (We left out adverbs. Call us prejudiced, but we just didn’t see the need.) We’d pull a word from each of the piles and do timed exercises of five, ten, and fifteen minutes.

The rules were simple. Write until your hand falls off. Haha! No, actually, it was write using one word chosen from each of the three piles for the prescribed minutes without stopping: not to ponder a plot twist, not to reach for a word that was escaping your pen, not even to go to the bathroom. It was invigorating and imaginative, and it shushed the internal editor more succinctly than any of the other writing exercises I’d tried. Sometimes we’d tweak the rules, adjusting the time or using twice as many words, but the basic premise was the same. This simple writing prompt fueled the basis for scene after scene of a novel that would eventually become “Oil and Water,” but it also taught me something about the craft of writing: imagination is like every other muscle in the body; you need to flex it if you want to keep it in shape. For me, writing prompts facilitated my workout.

So much of our day is spent elsewhere, unconsciously trolling the past or hypothesizing about the future. Cutting through the madness of life is challenging, but the here and now is where you want to be. If done with full awareness, the art of writing IMG_3209can facilitate a sacred communion with your Higher Self. When you tune in to your Higher Self, the internal editor — the one that never really stops criticizing — is silenced, brushed aside to allow the light of clarity to shine through and the quiet little voice to finally get a few minutes of air time. Don’t banish the internal editor because you’ll need him or her later in the rewrite stage — just tell them to shush up so the quiet little voice can speak.

You can also get that kind of unfettered access writing morning pages. The minute you are out of bed, write down whatever comes to you, a dream, some leftover baggage from the day, any nervousness about the day to come, all of it, and when you’re done, start the day fresh.

Here’s another one. Grab a tangerine, or an apple, the fruit doesn’t matter, or if you don’t like fruit, grab a wrench, then set a timer for fifteen minutes, more if you’re brave, and write down everything you can about the tangerine.   Notice the color, the texture, the feel of its skin against your own, the little indentation on the one side and the little nub of a branch on the other where it was plucked from its momma tree. Notice the hexagonal star pattern surrounding the little nublet — not a word, but it describes the little wooden branch remnant on the top center of the tangerine perfectly, doesn’t it? Describe the smell and whether this is what you thought the color orange would feel like. Rub it against your cheek and lips and describe the almost plastic feeling of the skin and balance it on your head and talk about the weight or how easy or hard it is to balance it there and then write a sentence with a tangerine on your head (which does great things for your posture), and talk about how hard it was to keep it from falling, and on and on until your timer goes ding and THEN, eat the tangerine and describe that, so tart, so sweet, so delicate. If you chose a wrench as your object, you’ll have to leave this last part out. The exercise is freeing because there’s really no goal other than to train yourself to observe and describe. Do it a hundred times and you’ll have mastered the art of observation and description which is all writing really is.

Got it? Great! I challenge you to choose your prompt and get to work. Your readers are waiting. You’re going to be amazing.

OIL AND WATER

51ZWliCKZqL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_        When inventor Martin Tirabi builds a machine that converts trash into oil it sends shockwaves through the corporate halls of the oil cognoscenti. Weeks later, Marty and his wife, Ruth are killed in a mysterious car accident. Their son, Gil, a 10-year old physics prodigy is the only one capable of finishing the machine that could solve the world’s energy problems.  Plagued with epilepsy from birth, Gil is also psychic, and through dreams and the occasional missive from his dead father he gets the push he needs to finish the job.

Meanwhile, Bicky Coleman, head of Akanabi Oil is doing his best to smear the planet in it. From a slow leak in the Gulf of Mexico to the most devastating oil spill the Delaware River has ever seen, Akanabi’s corporate practices are leaving oily imprints in their wake. To divert the tide of bad press, Bicky dispatches his son-in-law and Chief Engineer, David Hartos to clean up his mess.  A disillusioned Hart, reeling from the recent death of his wife and unborn child, travels to Philadelphia to fulfill his father-in-law’s wishes.

There’s no such thing as coincidence when Hart meets Gil and agrees to help him finish Marty’s dream machine. But how will he bring such a revolutionary invention to market in a world reliant on fossil fuels and awash in corporate greed?  To do so, Hart must confront those who would quash the project, including his own father-in-law.

You’ll find murder, mystery, and humor as black as fine Arabian crude filling the pages of Oil and Water. The characters are fictional, but the technology is real. What will we do when the oil runs out?   Open up and see.

Who is P.J. Lazos?

 

IMG_9598P. J. Lazos is an environmental lawyer and author of the recently released novel, Oil and Water, an environmental murder mystery about oil spills and green technology; of Six Sisters, a collection of novellas about family and dysfunction; the creator of her lifestyle and literary blog, Green Life Blue Water (greenlifebluewater.wordpress.com); on the Editorial Board for the wH2O Journal, the Journal of Gender and Water (University of Pennsylvania) (http://www.wh2ojournal.com); a blogger for the Global Water Alliance (GWA) in Philadelphia (http://www.globalwateralliance.net), a literary magazine contributor (Rapportage); a former correspondent for her local newspaper (LNP); former Editor-in-Chief for the Environmental Law and Technology Journal at Temple Law School; a ghostwriter; the author of a children’s book (Into the Land of the Loud); an active and enthusiastic member of the Jr. League of Lancaster, and, because it’s cool, a beekeeper’s apprentice. She practices laughter daily.

Thanks for reading…

Look The Other Way: Romance Author Roxy Boroughs Has Her Say

It is truly exciting having another book published. And one of the most exciting things is receiving author endorsements on the Advanced Reader Copy (ARC)

Today, I’d like to give a shout out to Roxy Boroughs.

I asked Roxy to read the ARC of Look The Other Way, and if she liked it, would she write an endorsement.

My reason for choosing Roxy? She’s as talented romance author with many books published. Look the Other Way has more romance in it than the novels in The Stone Mountain Series, so I wanted a romance author to give me her opinion.

Who Is Roxy Boroughs?

Screen Shot 2017-03-18 at 5.01.19 PMBefore turning her attention to writing, Roxy tread the boards as an actress, appearing on stage, film and TV.

Look for her romantic suspense titles, the award winning A STRANGER’S TOUCH, and the follow-up novella A STRANGER’S KISS. As well as the popular FROST FAMILY & FRIENDS Christmas series, which combines sweet romance with cozy mystery. Screen Shot 2017-03-18 at 5.01.59 PM

Visit Roxy at www.roxyboroughs.com

 

 

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Here is what Roxy has to say about Look The Other Way, soon to be published by Imajin Books.

Past secrets make for deadly stowaways when amateur sleuth, Shannon Payne, cruises her way into the Bahamas, navigating the murky waters of lies and betrayal. Bestselling author, Kristina Stanley, delivers an intriguing mystery, with psychological undercurrents, family conflicts, and a big splash of romance. Look the Other Way? You won’t be able to put this page-turner down. – Roxy Boroughs Romance Author

 

What’s LOOK THE OTHER WAY about?

It’s the beginning of a new series set in the Bahamas. The mystery takes place aboard a Lagoon 380 catamaran, which happens to be the type of boat I lived on for 5 years.

Mattina sailing
Mattina in the Bahamas

Here’s the blurb:

A year after her Uncle Bobby mysteriously disappears in the turquoise waters surrounding the Bahamas, Shannon Payne joins her grieving aunt to trace his last voyage. Shannon hopes the serenity of the sea might help her recover from a devastating breakup with her fiancé.

Sailing their 38-foot catamaran, A Dog’s Cat, is Captain Jake Hunter, a disillusioned cop who has sworn off women. While Shannon tries to resist her growing attraction to the rugged captain, she uncovers some dark truths about her uncle’s death that might send all three of them to the depths.

Thank you to Imajin Books for once again supporting me!

Imajin Books is a Canadian publisher that publishes suspense, mystery, thriller, paranormal, horror, romance, fantasy, young adult and select non-fiction. They will be open for submissions April 2017, so keep your eye on the website if you’re looking to submit a novel this year.

Avalanche Season: Saturday’s Storm has ingredients for large avalanches!

As I drove through Rogers Pass on Thursday, I was awed by the number of avalanches almost reaching the highway.

Look to the left. Look to the right. Slides of snow surrounded us.

Avalanche Canada is forecasting a dangerous time.

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So why not stay home and read a book? I happen to have written one called AVALANCHE.

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A mountain as deadly as it is majestic; characters far too familiar with the Seven Deadly Sins and murder−Kristina Stanley’s Avalanche has it all. This fast-paced mystery is as thrilling as a heart-stopping run down the slopes. ~ Gail Bowen, author of the Joanne Kilbourn Shreve mysteries

Thanks for reading…

Mystery Mondays: Christina Philippou on Writing Mysteries Into Fiction

Part of the fun of Mystery Mondays is discovering new authors and new books to read. I’ve also discovered it’s a way to learn about how other authors get published. Today, Christina Philippou is here to talk to us about writing mysteries.

Her debut novel, Lost In Static is published by Urbane Publications, and this is their mission: To find the daring, aspirational, and exciting new authors, and bring them to a whole new audience.

That sounded pretty cool to me, so I thought I’d share that in case any of you are looking for way to get published.

Now on to Christina…

Writing Mysteries Into Fiction

by Christina Philippou

Hello and thank you for having me today – I am delighted to be contributing to Mystery Mondays!

My novel, Lost in Static, is a contemporary mystery so, with that in mind, I wanted to talk about writing mysteries into fiction…

Not every mystery relates to something lost, or stolen, or something overt like a secret held by a character (although many of these mysteries do appear in some form or another in my writing). Some mysteries simply relate to what the narrator or, in the case of Lost in Static, narrators know that the reader doesn’t. This may not be the traditional use of mystery in fiction, but it is becoming increasingly common.

But how do you write something that is not a mystery to you, the author, so that it appears like a mystery to the reader? The answer is not a simple one.

One method is when thLost in Static covere narrator knows something but, because it is so obvious to them, they do not actually bother explaining. This makes it increasingly frustrating for the reader. For example, in the case of one of my protagonists, we know that he is writing to someone. But who is he writing to? He doesn’t bother to tell us until quite far into the plot because he knows exactly who he’s writing to, but the reader wants to know because it potentially could (and does) affect the story.

Another method is the idea of an unreliable narrator. As Lost in Static tells the same story from four (sometimes contrasting) points of view, some narrators spin the events in a different way than others. But how can the reader work out who is telling the truth and who is lying? This becomes even more difficult when the protagonists themselves don’t realise their memory is shaky or that they don’t have the full facts.

Which brings us back to the
traditional role of mystery in fiction – the mystery that not even the protagonists are aware of the answers to because, well, they are a mystery that needs to be solved…

LOST IN STATIC

SoLost in Static covermetimes growing up is seeing someone else’s side of the story.

Four stories. One truth. Whom do you believe?

Callum has a family secret. Yasmine wants to know it. Juliette thinks nobody knows hers. All Ruby wants is to reinvent herself.

They are brought together by circumstance, torn apart by misunderstanding. As new relationships are forged and confidences are broken, each person’s version of events is coloured by their background, beliefs and prejudices. And so the ingredients are in place for a year shaped by lust, betrayal, and violence…

Who is Christina Philippou?

Christina Philippou’s writing career has been a varied one, from populating the short-story notebook that lived under her desk at school to penning reports on corruption and terrorist finance. When not reading or writing, she can be found engaging in sport or undertaking some form of nature appreciation. Christina has three passports to go with her three children, but is not a spy. Lost in Static is her first novel.

Christina is also the founder of the contemporary fiction author initiative, Britfic.

You can connect with Christina on her websiteTwitterFacebookInstagram and Google+.

Lost in Static is the gripping debut from author Christina Philippou. Whom will you trust?

Thanks for reading…

 

 

 

Farley’s Friday: Smelly Dogs Need A Bath!

Farley here,

This whole event was Piper’s fault. She’s a border terrier and likes to roll in stuff.

I’m not sure how her antics evolved into me getting a bath, but she rolled in some kind of fuel and out came the soap.

My humans are excited that she smells. Like she doesn’t smell all the time, so they plop her in the bath. You can see how much she loves it.

Piper in Bath

 

I’m rolling on the carpet laughing when Kristina says, “You too.”

“What?” I bark. “I don’t stink.”

I run and hide under the table, but it’s no use. Within seconds I’m in the tub too.

Farley in Tub

Silly Piper. I’ll have to train her not to roll in stinky stuff. Now we both smell of soap.

Woof Woof.

The Importance Of Author Endorsements

Many of you know I’ve sold the eBook and print rights for my upcoming novel LOOK THE OTHER WAY to Imajin Books.

Now the publishing journey moves quickly. Imajin Books has a fast paced schedule and I need to keep up.

In my book, The Author’s Guide To Selling Books to Non-Bookstores, I wrote about the importance of endorsements. Here’s a little excerpt:

AGTSBNBWhy Are Endorsement Important

When you take your book to a store, endorsements on the front and back cover will add legitimacy to your books. That’s promotional material every time someone picks up your novel.

I believe this is more important for printed books than eBooks. The image of your book cover online may be too small for a potential buyer to read the endorsements. In a store, the endorsements may just give you an edge over other books on the shelf.

The endorsements that go on your cover are ones that connect with your readers. You want to find authors who write in your genre that readers will recognize. Having an endorsement from your mom is nice, but it won’t help sell your book. Unless your mom is a famous author, in which case, go ahead and use her.

The first endorsement for LOOK THE OTHER WAY is in!

I asked an author who has more romance in her novels than I do in the Stone Mountain Mystery series because LOOK the OTHER WAY is a romantic suspense novel.  I asked an author whose books I’ve read and loved.

SO WHO DID I ASK?

KAT FLANNERY

Kat FlanneryKat Flannery’s love of history shows in her novels. She is an avid reader of historical, suspense, paranormal, and romance. When not researching for her next book, Kat can be found running her three sons to hockey and lacrosse. She has her Certificate in Freelance and Business Writing. A member of many writing groups, Kat enjoys promoting other authors on her blog. She’s been published in numerous periodicals. Her debut novel CHASING CLOVERS has been on Amazon’s Bestsellers list many times and was #62 over all their titles. LAKOTA HONOR and BLOOD CURSE (Branded Trilogy) are Kat’s two award-winning novels and HAZARDOUS UNIONS is Kat’s first novella. Kat is currently hard at work on her next book.

AND NOW FOR THE ENDORSEMENT!

“LOOK THE OTHER WAY is a fast paced ride complete with a tidal wave of emotions, suspense, and a well crafted who-done-it tale. Miss Stanley has impressed me yet again with her keen ability to keep the reader wanting more!”

What’s LOOK THE OTHER WAY about?

It’s the beginning of a new series set in the Bahamas. The mystery takes place aboard a Lagoon 380 catamaran, which happens to be the type of boat I lived on for 5 years.

Mattina sailing
Mattina in the Bahamas

Here’s the blurb:

A year after her Uncle Bobby mysteriously disappears in the turquoise waters surrounding the Bahamas, Shannon Payne joins her grieving aunt to trace his last voyage. Shannon hopes the serenity of the sea might help her recover from a devastating breakup with her fiancé.

Sailing their 38-foot catamaran, A Dog’s Cat, is Captain Jake Hunter, a disillusioned cop who has sworn off women. While Shannon tries to resist her growing attraction to the rugged captain, she uncovers some dark truths about her uncle’s death that might send all three of them to the depths.

Thank you to Imajin Books for once again supporting me!

Imajin Books is a Canadian publisher that publishes suspense, mystery, thriller, paranormal, horror, romance, fantasy, young adult and select non-fiction. They will be open for submissions April 2017, so keep your eye on the website if you’re looking to submit a novel this year.

Mystery Mondays: Damon L. Wakes on Planning Your Novel

It’s Monday again, and we’re here with Damon L. Wakes author of Ten Little Astronauts.

Planning Your Novel by Damon L. Wakes.

Personally, I don’t like to plan my books in too much detail. Knowing (at least in your head) how you get from beginning to end is essential, but for me summarising individual scenes seems excessive: I feel as though I might as well just write the scenes themselves.

What I find does help is to take a pack of record cards and note down all the major plot points, one per card. This makes for a really quick way to put together an outline of the story, and you’re free to add or remove cards as necessary, even while you’re working. There are other advantages to this sort of plan too, but I think those are best left for another post.

I first tried this approach when writing my prehistoric fantasy novel, Face of Glass, but it proved especially handy while plotting out the twists and turns of my sci-fi murder mystery, Ten Little Astronauts, which has since been accepted by Unbound!

 

 TEN LITLE ASTRONAUTS

engine-roomThe U.N. Owen is adrift in interstellar space. With no lights, no life support, no help for ten trillion miles, it seems as though things can’t get any worse. Then, Blore finds the body.

Ten Little Astronauts is Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None set in space. The novella takes the essence of Christie’s murder mystery and condenses it down into a tense, hard sci-fi thriller.

Ten astronauts are awoken from suspended animation to deal with a crisis on board their ship. Selected from a crew of thousands, none of them knows any of the others: all they know is that one of their number is a murderer. And until they work out who it is, none of them can go back to sleep.

With the environment of the ship itself acting as an added threat, the story progresses at a faster pace with a more rapid series of twists. Setting the mystery in interstellar space – where a radio message could take years to reach anybody – also offers an immediate explanation as to why the characters can’t simply call for help, eliminating a lot of the introductory scene-setting of Christie’s original.

Despite the futuristic setting, the world of Ten Little Astronauts conforms as closely as possible to the scientific understanding of the present day, based on extensive research drawing on everything from the ion thrusters of NASA to the vessels preserved at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum. Grounded in reality, the science fiction acts as a backdrop to a mystery that can be broken down and solved by conventional means. The characters and premise will be well familiar to fans of Agatha Christie, but the story itself is brand new.

Pledging to support Ten Little Astronauts at Unbound is more than just buying a book: it’s an opportunity to bring that book into the world. The novella is already written, but it needs your help to make it into print. Of course, there are also rewards for supporters, ranging from digital copies of the book all the way up to a writing workshop with the author.

Book Cover:

Not available yet, as that’s one of the things that the crowdfunding campaign aims to cover. However, there is this video filmed on board HMS Alliance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXjvSRTPDRs .

 

WHO IS Damon L Wakes?

unbound-portraitDamon L. Wakes was born in 1991 and began to write a few years later. He holds an MA in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of Winchester, and a BA in English Literature from the University of Reading.

Every year since 2012, Damon has produced one work of flash fiction each and every day during the month of July. He usually writes humour and horror, occasionally at the same time. Tackling so many stories with such a short word count has given him a knack for well structured narratives formed of tight prose.

When he isn’t writing, Damon enjoys weaving chainmail. He began making chainmail armour ten years or so ago, but quickly discovered that there was no longer much of a market for it and so switched to jewellery instead. He now attends a variety of craft events, selling items made of modern metals such as aluminium, niobium and titanium, but constructed using thousand year-old techniques.

Damon’s other interests are diverse. He has at various times taken up archery, fencing and kayaking, ostensibly as research for books but mostly because it’s something to do.

Links:

Website: www.damonwakes.wordpress.com

Blog: https://damonwakes.wordpress.com/posts/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authordamonwakes

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DamonWakes

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6560972.Damon_L_Wakes

Newsletter: https://damonwakes.wordpress.com/newsletter/

Ten Little Astronauts: https://unbound.com/books/ten-little-astronauts