Mystery Mondays: Nick Rippington on Being Persistent

screen-shot-2017-01-21-at-8-43-04-amMystery Thriller Week is an annual event that celebrates the Mystery, Thriller genre. Welcome to all writers, published or unpublished. The Kickoff begins Feb.12-19, 2017!

Mystery Mondays is helping celebrate by hosting mystery writers leading up to this exciting week. The first up is Nick Rippington.

Being Persistent by Nick Rippington

MY OFFICE was a crime scene. I envisaged my computer cordoned off by yellow and black tape, the words DO NOT CROSS boldly emblazoned on it, hinting at torturous punishments if the message wasn’t heeded.

In my over-active imagination I saw figures in white paper suits pouring over the contents of my desk, wondering at the significance of the fantasy football teams I had scribbled down in my notebook, whether there might be a hidden code lying dormant among the seemingly innocuous set of names.

I studied the building, its harsh lights glaring out at me amid the uniformed greyness of the docklands office development. Feeling like one of those Watergate reporters, Woodward or Bernstein, I waited in the car park for my contact to arrive, jumping within my skin every time an engine revved or lights flashed.

Eventually Jonesy arrived, handing me a black bin liner. Opening it, I stared at the macabre contents: a half eaten chocolate bar, some chewing gum, a box of staples, a pair of blunt scissors, yellowing paper – lots of it – boasting hard-hitting headlines which had once filled me with pride.

“Sorry about this,” he said. “No one’s allowed in the building. They’re trying to find a smoking gun, I guess.”

I nodded. Two years into my dream job and I faced up to the truth – I was out of work because of ‘crimes’ committed long before I joined The News of the World as a sports journalist.

Having been on holiday, I’d almost missed Rupert Murdoch’s announcement that he was closing the paper in the wake of a stories of celebrities having their phones hacked. A friend phoned to tell me and I would only believe him after seeing it confirmed on the 24-hour TV news.

I never set foot in the building again. For the first time in my life I had been made redundant, not a nice feeling when you have a wife and a one-year-old daughter depending on you.

I had always fancied myself as a closet author, but never seemed to find the time. Now, with Indie and digital publishing exploding on the scene, I decided I would give it a go. I went to conventions, joined author and publishing groups and worked out how to set about the task.

With more than 30 years experience in journalism I had plenty of material to fall back on and began with a simple premise: How would a big city newspaper hack handle a move to a small provincial operation? One particular character sprang to mind, a dyed-in-the-wool cockney who thought the world didn’t exist beyond the boundaries of the M25 motorway.

I nurtured this germ of an idea, grew it, had my original story critiqued and rubbished, went back to square one, hardened it, added elements of thriller and mystery, drew on teenage experiences of being a member of a “gang” and came up with Crossing The Whitewash, which I published in August 2015.

Sales were a slow burn but the key is not to give up. Though most of us would rather write than get involved in marketing, my recent progress with Facebook Ads has been highly encouraging, leading to a big surge in sales over Christmas and the New Year. I broke into the top 20 hard-boiled mysteries category in the UK, my name alongside the likes of Phillip Kerr, Gordon Ferris and Stuart MacBride.

With over 30 reviews across the UK and US, many of them positive, readers have suggested they would like to see more of my characters, so the prequel is on the way. I was hoping it would be out in time for MTW but that may be ambitious. It is with the editor now, will then go to Beta readers and finally to my wife Liz, a qualified proofreader (and very good, I must add; quick plug you can contact her through her website http://lizripp01.wixsite.com/heresproof).

During that time I have been lucky to make contact with some pretty successful authors. One of the best tips came from Kerry Wilkinson, who published his first books independently before success on Amazon earned him a 10-book deal with MacMillan.

He read my first three chapters and steered me in the right direction, telling me that dialogue was key, and to let my characters tell the story. Now, whenever I get writers’ block I write a conversation between two characters. It doesn’t matter if it never appears as long as it gets the creative juices flowing again.

Thank you, Kristina, for the chance to write this. I hope your readers find it intriguing enough to take the plunge and read a Rippington.

A Little About CROSSING THE WHITEWASH:

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Young football prodigy Gary Marshall and his best mate Arnie Dolan spend their teen years battling adversity and rival gangs on the tough London council estate where they live. Then a series of events occur with massive repercussions for both boys, forcing them apart.

Eight years later Arnie is desperate to revive their relationship and has a secret to impart he has harboured all his life.

So why is Gary hiding away in Wales as a sports reporter under a false name? And why is he so keen to let the past stay in the past?

Who is Nick Rippington?

2016-01-01-12-25-08-1NICK RIPPINGTON wrote his debut novel, the urban gangland thriller Crossing The Whitewash, after losing his job at the News of the World in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.

Published in August 2015, the novel recently received an honourable mention in the 2016 EBook Awards competition run by prestigious American magazine Writer’s Digest. The judges described it as “evocative, original, unfailingly precise and often humorous” and considered one of the leading characters, gang leader Arnie Dolan, as “terrifying”.

The judge in the 2016 self-published eBook competition went on to say: “I was impressed with the development of all the characters, major and minor. Arnold is terrifying but never comes across as a two-dimensional villain. By the end, the reader can see that all of the characters have changed.”

A career journalist now working on the Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday while continuing with his writing adventure, in a previous life Nick was an Executive Editor at Media Wales – the organisation that produces the Western Mail, South Wales Echo, Wales on Sunday and Wales Online in Cardiff.

In his spare time he is a big fan of the England cricket team and home town football club Bristol Rovers. He has mapped out his writing story, from first draft to eventual publication, in his blog imgoingtopublish.wordpress.com

He is married to Liz and has two daughters, Jemma, 34, and Olivia, 6.

CONTACT DETAILS:

Email nickrippington@yahoo.co.uk

Website: www.theripperfile.com

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/buckrippers

Twitter: @nickripp

Blog: http://www.imgoingtopublish. com

BOOK LINKS:

Available in Kindle and in Paperback from Amazon UK

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Crossing-Whitewash-Nick-Rippington/dp/1514362171

Amazon in US:

From Kobo at https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/crossing-the-whitewash

Nook books http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/crossing-the-whitewash-nick-rippington/1122462405?ean=2940150913486

iBooks:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/crossing-the-whitewash/id1039407605?mt=11

Category: This is a difficult one. I am having a lot of success in the urban category with Amazon but notice you don’t have one. For now perhaps thriller or contemporary fiction. Certainly if there was an urban category I would place it in that.

Mystery Mondays: Bill Engleson on Setting, Plot, Problem, Solution

Mystery Mondays has become such fun for me. It’s a place to discover mystery writers that I wouldn’t otherwise know about. This week, I have the pleasure to host Bill Engleson, author of Like a Child to Home and Confessions of an Inadvertently Gentrifying Soul.

So over to Bill.

Setting, Plot, Problem, Solution by Bill Engleson

cover-of-lacth-with-badgeMy novel, Like a Child to Home, is a telling, in a slightly noirish style, or so I tell myself, of the final working weeks of Child Welfare Social Worker, Wally Rose. As I was a recently retired Child Welfare Social Worker when I began the book in 2004, there is little mystery to my research style.

In Early 2004, I was contracted by my previous employer, the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development, to write a report detailing a framework for an MCFD Ethics Committee. That report, Through a Kaleidoscope, was completed in May 2004.

Like a Child to Home, or, as I called it then, Next of Kin, began with that report, with that intensive exploration of ethical practice. I am probably sounding too pompous here. What I wanted to do, in a fictional form, was describe, as best as I could, what my experience of working with at-risk kids and families was like. At the time, I had a long-shelved, since dusted-off detective manuscript, Bloodhound Days, whose main character was Wally Rose. I transposed Wally’s name into this new novel.

Borrowed character name notwithstanding, It wasn’t such a leap to view child welfare as having many of the key elements of mystery fiction.

People in crisis are the characters, humans in need. I hope I am not lessening the very real issues people face as opposed to the somewhat imaginary situations characters in novels find themselves.

Family, or loss of or estrangement from family, is frequently the setting.

The plot…how the lives of children and families are unfolding.

The problem…abuse, neglect, death, financial need.

And the solution…usually temporary…always open to interpretation.

So, with this rather generic similarity, I wrote my novel. Initially, the best I could do was write two character studies, two chapters. It was probably at this point that I actually decided to write a full-blown novel. Which I did.

Back Story of Like a Child to Home


November on the Canadian West Coast; it’s often wet, miserable and dark. Lives get messy; streets are unsafe.

Wally Rose is a brooding, sporadically up-beat, old-time social worker. Carla Prentice is an overwhelmed, single mother of two teenagers, one who has lost his way, another who may be losing hers. The Prentice family, paralyzed by fear and silence, can barely keep a lid on their out-of-control lives.

Wally is juggling a convoluted caseload of youth, each coping with more than their fair share of adolescent struggles, the taxing muddle of leftover family distress, and a baffling child welfare system they are submerged in. An old file comes back to bedevil Wally. A habitual line-crosser, he may have pushed his luck one too many times.

Wally has been “nurturing” kids and fellow workers for decades. He has little patience for red tape and is a thorn in the side of his employer. He is also running out of gas. He hopes he can fill his tank one more time, not only to save himself, and those he cares for, from a capricious system, but also to draw his career to a close on his own terms.

Since

I write daily. Something. Anything. Lately, Monday mornings have required the writing of a haiku. Admittedly, the output is numerically minimalist but the satisfaction is almost acceptable.

In the past couple of years, my regular weekly writerly routine has involved the creation of a number of pieces of flash fiction for a variety of sites. Some of these inspiring sites have closed, proving a burden to the hosts, most of whom are not only authors themselves, but working stiffs.

Aside from a prequel to Like a Child to Home, and the resuscitated P.I. novel (with my protagonist re-christened), and the occasional poem, my principal writerly activity at the moment is shepherding a second book, a humorous creation of literary non-fiction, Confessions front cvr1.jpgConfessions of an Inadvertently Gentrifying Soul, released in early October by my publisher, Silver Bow Publishing, along the path of success.

Additionally, a short story, Hell is a Holiday was included in the recent Centum Press anthology, One Hundred Voices.

A recent writing highlight has been the announcement in November’s online CQ magazine that I have won their 2nd Short Story Challenge. The story will be printed in the February edition. Here is a link in case people are unfamiliar with CQ. https://issuu.com/ramblingawaymagzine/docs/cqnov16v2

I am also part of my community. At the moment I am in my final year as Chair of the Hornby & Denman Community Health Care Society. It is a fine service oriented organization.

http://hornbydenmanhealth.com/about-us/people/

 

Awards

Few, I’m afraid.

This year, Like a Child to Home received an Honourable Mention at the inaugural Whistler Independent Book Awards.

Reading Inclinations

These days, I enjoy Michael Connelly, Philip Kerr and Lawrence Durrell to name but three.

Links

www.engleson.ca

@billmelaterplea

http://www.silverbowpublishing.com/confessions-of-an-inadvertently-gentrifying-soul.html

http://www.centumpublishing.com/product-page/5f32c1aa-3309-3fa5-8aa7-319051d5436f

AND A LITTLE MORE ABOUT BILL

Autobiography

bill-engleson-in-a-reflective-momentOn the day I was born, or thereabouts, my parents pulled into a dock at Powell River and made their way to the hospital.

I am pretty sure it went that way. They never actually spelled out the details and I never asked.

I can’t imagine we lingered more than a couple of days in that seaside town after I was delivered.

The next year and a half was spent on their fish boat. I am told I developed sea legs. I assume that is true. I never fell into the chuck. They never mentioned it anyways.

We finally came to shore in Nanaimo. A Pulp Mill had to be built. My father signed on.

I came of age in Nanaimo. In my later teens, I left, had a truncated Canadian military encounter in Kingston, a tail-between-my-legs return to High School to repeat Grade 12 (after signing a behavioural contract,) and a second, more permanent exit into my own wonky version of maturity and liberation.

I attended SFU as a charter student, dropped out whilst remaining within, immersed myself in student politics, had a six month flirtation with Frontier College and spent more than a decade living in the CRCA, a New Westminster Co-op/Commune which is celebrating its 50th Anniversary in August, 2017.

For a career, I spent twenty-four years with MCFD, initially as a family support worker and, post-Solidarity, 1983, as a child protection social worker.

In 2002, I accepted early retirement but after a couple of months of mind-numbing sloth, went to work, for 1 ½ years, with the Lower Mainland Purpose Society headquartered in New Westminster. Previously I had served on the Board of Directors for many years.

All along the plan, our post-work life plan, was for my partner and me to live in the country, preferably on an Island.

Devil’s Island or Denman Island. It didn’t matter.

Well, it mattered some.

Life on Denman has been full, mostly with writing, volunteering, table tennis and, of late, Pickleball.

To keep as active as is befitting a retired social worker who writes, I maintain a blog, www.engleson.ca, and occasionally post both musings on writing and observations on the state of Child Welfare.

There is an intensity to rural life yet, all the while, a comfortable detachment exists, can exist. The community struggles, yet comes together.

I like to think that my writing hasn’t hindered its intermittent coalescence.

 

 

 

 

 

Mystery Mondays: Linda Barton On Being An Indie Author

It’s Monday again, and we welcome Linda Barton, author of  Saying Goodbye: The Christmas Gift – A Christmas Novella. So let’s hear what Linda has to way about her life as an Indie author.

THE WORLD OF INDIE PUBLISHING by Linda Barton

The day in 2011, when I decided to dive into the world of Indie Publishing, I must admit that I had no idea what I was doing. I spent hours doing my research online and started asking questions. I was surprised at all the so-called Professionals who promised the world for a fee. They said they would get your masterpiece ready and out there for the readers to enjoy. However, I have never trusted someone selling a product or service that sounds too good to be true.

When you spend, endless hours writing your book, the last thing you need is to hand it over to someone who doesn’t have your best interests at heart. Over the years, I have heard so many horror stories of first-time authors paying thousands of dollars on the promise their book will be the next bestseller. Then only to learn it was all a lie. So often, I’ve heard of long fights to get the rights to their book back, only to have to hire someone to edit and reformat the book before they can publish it on their own.

Now, I’m not saying that being an Indie Author is a cakewalk. No, it’s hard work because everything falls on your shoulders. It’s your responsibility to see the book is properly edited, formatted, and you need to have a killer cover. However, having been in the beginner shoes myself, I know it’s something worth doing. Nowadays, there is so much help available for the first-time author. There are groups all over Facebook for Authors. Some are helpful more than others, but I know you’ll find one that suits your needs.

Another bit of advice to save yourself some money is to learn how to do as much of those things needed to publish your book as possible. To save myself some money, I have learned how to format and create my own covers. However, if you’re not so inclined, there are people such as myself who will perform those duties for a reasonable price.

So, there are some pearls of wisdom for the person wanting to take the path so many others have today. Don’t let anyone tell you cannot be an Author. With platforms, such as Amazon, B&N, and iTunes, the literary world has opened for those who have dreamed of sharing the stories swimming around in their minds. So, sit at your computer and just start writing.

WHO IS LINDA BARTON?

author-pbotoLinda L Barton is a Multi-Genre Author. Publishing her first book in 2011, Linda started out by writing Dark Thrillers. Since then she has branched out by writing YA Fantasy, Women’s Romantic Fiction, and even Children’s Books.

One of the high points of Linda’s writing career was when Next Move, You’re Dead: The Trilogy Bundle was chosen as 1 of 100 pre-loaded Kindle Fire ebooks given away in the 2013 Emmy Awards VIP Swag Bags to over 600 of those in attendance at the awards that evening.

Linda is also the Founder of Deadly Reads, Deadly Reads Author Services, and the Host of the Deadly Reads Radio Show – Journey into the Night, which airs live Thursday evenings on Blog Talk Radio.

Linda is also blessed to be married to a wonderful man, Bob for more than 30 years. Bob is her writing muse and has created several of the plots for her books. Together they have a daughter and son, as well as 5 beautiful grandchildren; all of whom are the joy of their lives.

Linda never thought she would become a published author, but now she cannot imagine doing anything else.

book-coverSaying Goodbye: The Christmas Gift – A Christmas Novella

Sometimes life doesn’t go in the direction we’ve planned for ourselves. We believe we have everything all figured out then something happens to flip our world upside down. Molly had always believed her life was on track. She figured she would graduate from Medical School and then go on to have a fulfilling career. However, life sometimes has other plans for us. Saying Goodbye takes you on a journey of discovery as Molly learns a powerful lesson we all try to avoid. As Molly comes to terms with her painful past, she finds the joy of learning how to say goodbye.

Where you can find Linda:

Facebook
Link to blog http://lindalbarton.blogspot.com/

Mystery Mondays: Elaine Cougler on Linking History and Fiction

When I first started blogging, long before I was published, Elaine Cougler was one of the first author’s I met online. She’s been encouraging me ever since, so it’s a great pleasure to finally have her on Mystery Mondays.

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Linking History and Fiction Through Theme

by Elaine Cougler

One of the things I like to do in my books is to show the strengths of ordinary people, fictional though they may be. Putting them in ever more dangerous and extraordinary situations allows me to do just that. In The Loyalist Legacy, for example, Lucy has to find a way to get her husband released from jail where he has been wrongly imprisoned with not so much as a charge against him. Oh, she learns why those in power are holding him. He has helped far too many simple settlers with legal problems over their land in the burgeoning Niagara communities, all too often going against the rich and powerful. In a rough country where democracy is still just an idea, the high-and-mighty rule.

A good shot with her very own rifle, Lucy is the mother of a grown family with grandchildren on both sides of the Niagara River. On more than one occasion she has shown her mettle, but now she yearns for what she had thought would be quiet years with her husband. Instead, she and John are still struggling, this time with their own British government in Upper Canada.

The day John was seized from their mill near Fort Erie, she rushed to Niagara (present-day Niagara-on-the-Lake) thinking John would be released immediately. It didn’t happen. This circumstance gave me, as the author, the chance to have Lucy meet Richard Beasley, the real person who owned the land on Burlington Bay, which the British actually seized as a marshalling station and army camp during the War of 1812.

Beasley’s mostly true story became one of the subplots in this third novel in the trilogy.

Here is the scene where Lucy meets Richard Beasley.

 Lucy lay on the lumpy bed as the snow beat against Aaron’s newly installed glass windowpane and tried to keep the tears from coming again. John had told her to forget about him. He worried that her constant running back and forth from the inn to the jail would aggravate her paining joints. “Go back home, Lucy,” he’d said week in and week out the past three months.

“But I can’t!” Her voice echoed in the bare room. How she ached to have him with her. She rolled over once again, taking care with her right knee. Her latest patchwork quilt at least kept her warm and reminded her of better times.

In the morning she would try to get the jailer to let her bring food to John. His hands were so bony and his trousers so loose, she knew they weren’t feeding him much at all. She would make that jailer listen to reason!

The rebuilt Angel Inn, burned with almost every building in Niagara that December of 1813, this morning bustled with travelers and local hangers-on, all slurping their steaming bowls of porridge and gulping tankards of ale as though they hadn’t eaten or drunk for days. Aaron was back in the kitchen dishing up orders while Lucy rushed as best she could from table to table, side-stepping the boots protruding into the aisles and the arms flung out to emphasize some important point in a customer’s harrowing story.

Her mind was on her plan this morning. That jailer would listen or she would—well, she didn’t know what she would do but she would convince him to let her give John the bowl of porridge she would carry with her. Maybe she’d take two and bribe the jailer with his very own. Ah, that’s a good idea.

“Watch what you’re doing, woman!”

She tripped and fell right into the table, upsetting the bowl of porridge she carried all over the men’s food. “I’m so sorry, gentlemen!” With her cloth she wiped up the mess. “I’ll get more. I wasn’t thinking…Please forgive me.” She couldn’t stop talking and felt the heat spread from her face all down her front, adding to her embarrassment.

“Madam, do not worry.” The well-dressed man’s voice soothed as he spoke. “This is just a trifle. Do not concern yourself.”

She looked up. The speaker was the ruddy-faced, white-haired man she’d noticed when he came in. He smiled at her. He still had most of his teeth. The table put back to rights, she picked up her cloth and curtsied quickly. “Thank you, sir,” she whispered in a voice so soft she wondered if he could even hear it.

But he did. “Landlord! Give this woman a shot of brandy. She’s pale as a ghost.”

The Loyalist Legacy.

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When the War of 1812 is finally over William and Catherine Garner flee the desolation of Niagara and find in the wild heart of Upper Canada their two hundred acres straddling the Thames River. On this valuable land, dense forests, wild beasts, disgruntled Natives, and pesky neighbors daily challenge them. The political atmosphere laced with greed and corruption threatens to undermine all of the new settlers’ hopes and plans. William cannot take his family back to Niagara, but he longs to check on his parents from whom he has heard nothing for two years. Leaving Catherine and the children, he hurries along the Governor’s Road toward the turn-off to Fort Erie, hoping to return in time for spring planting.

With realistic insights into the challenging lives of Ontario’s early settlers, Elaine Cougler once again draws readers into the Loyalists’ struggles to build homes, roads, and relationships, and their growing dissension as they move ever closer to another war. The Loyalist Legacy shows us the trials faced by ordinary people who conquer unbelievable hardships and become extraordinary in the process.

Praise for Elaine Cougler’s writing:

elaine-photo-2-from-paula-tizzard6203edit

“….absolutely fascinating….Cougler doesn’t hold back on the gritty realities of what a couple might have gone through at this time, and gives a unique view of the Revolutionary War that many might never have considered.”

Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews.

“….an intriguing story”                                             A Bookish Affair

 

“I highly recommend this book for any student of history or anyone just looking for a wonderful story.”

Book Lovers Paradise –“Elaine’s storytelling is brave and bold.”                       Oh, for the Hook of a Book

Oh, for the Hook of a Book

BUY THE BOOK LINK: https://www.amazon.com/Loyalist-Legacy-Trilogy/dp/1539451283/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1478040721&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Loyalist+Legacy+Elaine+Cougler

ABOUT THE AUTHOR + LINK TO MY SITE http://www.elainecougler.com/news/author-bio/

VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR LOGO AND SCHEDULE http://www.elainecougler.com/

Elaine Cougler can be found on Twitter, Facebook Author Page, LinkedIn and on her blog at http://www.elainecougler.com/blog/

Mystery Mondays: M.H. Callway on Short Stories Vs Novels

It is my pleasure to welcome fellow author M.H. Callway to Mystery Mondays. Madeleine and I met online and have since become friends. Her novel Windigo Fire was a finalist for the Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis Award. She writes both short stories and novels, and she’s here to tell you about that.

SHORT STORIES VS NOVELS

I often give talks on how to get published to aspiring writers. One tip I pass on is to start writing shorter pieces. As an author, I found great encouragement when one of my stories was accepted for publication and/or became a finalist for an award. The boost gave me the will to continue and to believe that I had enough talent to pursue my writing dream.

That’s not to say that writing a short story is easy although it is easier than tackling a novel. To use a running analogy, it’s like preparing for a 5K as opposed to a marathon. You need good basic cardio to run a 5K and most people can finish, but running a marathon introduces a whole new level of complexity. It requires far more endurance, experience and will power – and you won’t be able to complete one without the right training.

Would that I had followed my own advice!

I had always wanted to write a novel so that’s where I started. In 2002, I began my learner novel. Ignorance was bliss so I wrote and wrote and wrote. I ended up with 140,000 words of mishmash. Patient author friends ploughed through my verbiage and gave me excellent advice. I revised the draft several times, reduced the length to 100,000 words and mailed it off to multiple rejections and a few near misses.

By now, it was 2006. The Crime Writers of Canada announced a short story contest and several of my friends planned to enter. We are always advised to write what we know and since I’d spent most of my career working in the civil service, I wrote a comic short story about two hard-working civil servants saddled with a new Boss from Hell. To my great surprise and delight, “Kill the Boss” won first prize.

“Kill the Boss” was picked up by Silver Moon Magazine and reprinted in Mouth Full of Bullets. It proved to be a turning point for my writing career, mostly because I’d devoted four years to improve my writing skills.

I spent the next few years writing short stories. In 2009, I decided to try novel writing again. That work eventually became my first published novel, Windigo Fire. Writing and publishing short fiction kept me going through Windigo Fire’s ups and downs and continues to do so while I wrestle with the next book in the Danny Bluestone series, Windigo Ice.

My short fiction starts with a simple idea. When I write a short story, I’m a complete pantser though I usually know how the story is going to end. Often I have the closing line in mind. What I don’t know is how long it’s going to take to get to the end. I simply write until the story is fully told.

I find the process of writing short fiction immensely freeing. Also since I tend to write long, I’ve started exploring the novella form. In our digital age, we aren’t as constrained to rigid word limits as we once were because of the mechanics of print publishing. Nowadays, too, readers have less time, so I believe that the novella form has potential to become popular.

Readers can now find my published stories and novellas together in my new book Glow Grass and Other Tales. It’s available on Amazon in print and digital form.

I love to hear from readers. Do visit my website and leave me your comments at www.mhcallway.com. Or you may contact me at mcallway1@gmail.com.

M.H. Callway’s Books:

 

12000831_10154197942864018_1649104801334232488_oWINDIGO FIRE

A  Canadian noir thriller.

Danny Bluestone, a young Native man, overeducated and underemployed, is drawn into an illegal bear hunt to escape his stultifying hometown of Red Dog Lake in Northern Ontario.  Things quickly go violent and he must fight to survive both the killers and the wilderness.

 

 

glowgrassGLOW GRASS and OTHER TALES:

Revenge, guide dogs, cats big and small, beleaguered ladies of a certain age and a cop with a tarnished heart, meet them all here in Glow Grass and Other Tales.

The characters in the seven stories and two novellas fight for justice even when their sense of justice is warped.  The tales include winners of The Bony Pete and Golden Horseshoe awards as well as the finalists for the 2015 Derringer and 2016 Arthur Ellis Best Novella Award.

 

 

Mystery Mondays: Raquel V. Reyes on Networking

Thinking of going to a Writing Conference? Raquel Reyes, author of JEWELER’S MARK, will tell you how to make the most of a conference.  Welcome to Mystery Mondays and another fun filled blog.

Networking Pointers by R. V. Reyes

 

rvr-sf-16Why should you go to writers conferences? There are many answers to that question, but for me, the best answer is networking. Yes, one also goes to better one’s craft or to hear the headlining guest of honor. And you will get both those things just by attending and sitting in your seat. But if you want to get the most from the conference then you need to go in prepared to network.

I attend SleuthFest in South Florida. The conference is three days of panels, mini- workshops, and demonstrations. There are four tracks: beginning craft, advanced craft, career advancement, and forensics. An add-on called “Third-Degree Thursday” is offered that provides more in-depth workshops. Put on by the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, it is volunteer run with a twenty-plus year history. This will be my third year as a volunteer and since I am a chapter member I’m also on the planning committee. But before I was behind the scenes, I attended several times as a newbie knowing no one. The people I met those first years are in my network to this day and have provided me with support, advice, back-cover blurbs, agent leads, commiseration, hope, and laughter. When you network at a conference the results are long lasting.

Here are my tips for networking.

Introduce yourself to your neighbor. “Hi, I’m Raquel. Is this your first SleuthFest?”

Curb your ego. Or rather let the other person speak. You’re having a conversation not selling a car.

Be confident in where you are in your career. Don’t worry if you are not published yet. Be honest. Try this: I’m a beginning writer or my work-in-progress is a suspense set in Glasgow. This year I’ll be saying, “I’ve recently published my first full-length cozy, Jeweler’s Mark.”

Have business cards with your name, e-mail, website, social media accounts, and some unique identifier. Mine say Latina Mysteries as all my stories have a Latina protagonist.

Have your elevator speech or log-line at the ready. “A Miami jewelry designer runs into the Russian mafia, murder, counterfeiting and romance while trying to save her brand and best friend.”

Give yourself opportunities to meet people. At SleuthFest there are plenty. 101 Dinner, Mystery Trivia at the bar, Agents & Editors cocktail party, the coffee stand in the bookstore— Don’t run to your room and hide whenever there is a break in the schedule.

Respect the headlining authors, agents, and editors. They are there to meet you but not while they are reading the morning news in a quiet corner of the lobby. Wait until they are mingling at an event then introduce yourself. Sometimes, they’re the first one to break the ice. One time, I was in the hot tub and didn’t know I was sharing it with an agent and her fiancé until she made introduces.

Volunteer. Not only will you be helping the sponsoring organization but you’ll be meeting people by default. Example, volunteering at the registration table guarantees you will know people’s names and they will remember your face.

Relax. When you are genuine, authentic relationships develop. You will find your tribe.

I hope you’ll attend SleuthFest. It’s a quality conference and you won’t meet a friendly group of people anywhere. Plus, I hear South Florida is lovely in February. You’ll find me behind the registration table or milling about selling raffle tickets. Find me and introduce yourself. I’ll be wearing a pink boa. 

WHO IS RAQUEL REYES?

r-v-reyes-head-shotR.V. Reyes lives in Miami, Florida with a dog, a cat, a rabbit, a husband, and one delightfully, snarky teen. Like the protagonist in her Love & Diamonds Mystery series, she works in her family’s jewelry business. When not crunching numbers there, she interviews other Florida Authors on her blog, Cozy in Miami.

Jeweler’s Mark- A Love & Diamonds Mystery

ebookGigi Santos, wedding ring designer and diamond appraiser, is looking forward to her ten-year high school reunion. She is trying to be a better, less gossipy person, but Lourdes, her BFF since forever, has not matured past teenage pettiness. Cover boy–handsome Detective Carlos Garcia comes into the picture to investigate a year-old burglary at Gigi’s jewelry business. They flirt, and sparks fly. Gigi is sure she will have him on her arm as her reunion date. That is, until her BFF becomes the prime suspect in the murder of the reunion’s organizer. Gigi knows Lourdes is innocent and she is determined to prove it. When Gigi’s sleuthing puts her and the people she loves in danger, Detective Garcia tries to keep her out of harm’s way. But she wants a date, not a hero. Will Gigi and Carlos dance under the Miami moonlight? Or will fake diamond rings send them all to jail? Find out in the first of the Love and Diamonds mysteries.

Where to find out more about Raquel:

Website: http://rvreyes.com/
Blog: http://rvreyes.com/blog/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CozyinMiami
Twitter: https://twitter.com/writerRVR

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8834980.R_V_Reyes
Book Links: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1536939501

 

Mystery Mondays: Christine Verstraete on Entertainment and the Big Crime

Just under two weeks ago, Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter was released, and now I have the pleasure of hosting the author, Christine  (C.A.)Verstraete on Mystery Mondays.

Entertainment (and the Big Crime) of 1892 By Christine (C.A.)Verstraete

Developing and fleshing out a character means researching what their life would be like: where and how they lived, what they liked, what they wore or ate, and even the music they listened to or their entertainment interests.

It’s a bit different when your character is based on a real person, especially one as well known as accused murderess Lizzie Borden, lizzie-sm2who was arrested, tried and then declared not guilty of murdering her father and stepmother in August, 1892.

The problem is that even though much is known about her via newspaper reports and crime information of the day, most of it isn’t too personal. There are a few snippets which have come out or can be gleaned from blogs or publications, but much of it is based on conjecture or distant observation, not on first-hand knowledge.

Writing fiction, however, gives you more leeway. After all, giving Lizzie a new life as I did in my book, Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter, is certainly far from real. Yet, I did try to stay within the guidelines of her real life situation and the crime. The rest—her actions, likes, personality, even some supposed romantic interests, and of course, the zombies—came from my own imagination.

The interesting part of doing a project like this is researching the time period. There was plenty going on, with crime then as now, deaths (many from morphine abuse), and scandals (Lizzie’s trial becoming the OJ trial of 1892.)

But there also was a big interest in entertainment. Lizzie, of course, is mostly tied up with her trial—and avoiding the gallows—during this time period. But I imagined her also being a big newspaper reader, as most people of the time were then with no other way to get the news.

She not only follows the local papers like the Fall River Herald, but I imagined her reading reports from the nearby Boston Globe. She especially is incensed with the lewd attempts in some publications to heighten publicity about her and her trial. After all, this was “the” story and crime of the day (and the century), and newspapers followed it with a vengeance, seeing it as circulation bonanzas. Readers, if you will, devoured every detail they could get. It was sensationalism at its height. Even nationally, readers couldn’t get enough.

220px-daisybellFor entertainment, sheet music was big with families playing and gathering around the piano. Most everyone knew the words or the tune to songs like Daisy Bell (A Bicycle Built for Two), a big hit in 1892. And it still is a fun song, reminiscent of a much sweeter age, isn’t it?

The lively marches of composer John Philip Sousa had many toes a tapping. What always struck me about older music were the fun titles. You have to wonder what Daddy Wouldn’t Buy Me a Bow-Wow sounded like. (See more musical titles from 1892.)

Live theatre also was a popular pastime for those in better economic positions to buy tickets, just as vaudeville was the entertainment of the everyday person. By 1893, with Lizzie free from jail if not still untainted by scandal, she reportedly did find some solace and freedom in travel and supposedly enjoyed going to the theatre.

In my book, I’m guessing that one play I mentioned , Lady Windermere’s Fan, written by Oscar Wilde, may have hit Lizzie a certain way (or hit too close to home) since it satirized the morals of society. It continues to be produced even now.

Another big theater hit of the time was Charley’s Aunt, which involved an unexpected visit from a rich aunt. It opened in London, had a long Broadway run and enjoyed success worldwide. It still is put on today. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charley%27s_Aunt and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Windermere%27s_Fan.)

That’s the real fun of writing such a story, I think. It’s learning about, and getting lost in, the details of the time.

Where can you find out more about Christine  (C.A.)Verstraete?

verst-3bsm

Add it on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31553183-lizzie-borden-zombie-hunter

Website: http://cverstraete.com

Blog: http://girlzombieauthors.blogspot.com

Amazon: http://getbook.at/LizzieBordenZombieHunter

About Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter by C.A. Verstraete

lbzh-front-cover-4-sm2

Every family has its secrets…
One hot August morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden picked up an axe and murdered her father and stepmother. Newspapers claim she did it for the oldest of reasons: family conflicts, jealousy and greed. But what if her parents were already dead? What if Lizzie slaughtered them because they’d become zombies?
Thrust into a horrific world where the walking dead are part of a shocking conspiracy to infect not only Fall River, Massachusetts, but also the world beyond, Lizzie battles to protect her sister, Emma, and her hometown from nightmarish ghouls and the evil forces controlling them.