Monday, November 4, 2019

Painting, Books, and Personal Storms

Recently I have had to deal with some painful health issues that make it truly difficult to write. I don't know it its the frustration or the fact that I can't seem to focus on writing that is the culprit. Doesn't really seem to matter. The end result is the same. I can't write at the speed and quantity that I am used to and that really puts a damper on the whole 'love of writing' thing.

I have been enjoying some really motivational and encouraging blogs as of late. Most of them have to do with writing or reading because that is my bread and butter. But there are some that are of my other loves like gardening and watercoloring.

I find often that having a creative outlet other than writing can sometimes remedy writer's block even if I end up painting stormy clouds or lonely asteroids floating in dark space.

As I concentrate on healing and on giving myself grace for not writing like a madwoman All. The. Time. I have also promised to better manage the other aspects of my writing life that I do have control of right now. Like time and stress and social interaction.

For one, I have chosen not to participate in #NaNoWriMo this year because if I add any additional pressure to myself I fear I will blow a gasket. However, I do encourage you to try it if you haven't as the community is outstanding. Encouraging, engaging, and tons of fun! Plus there's t-shirts!

Secondly, I did sign up for a giveaway earlier in the year and yesterday my daughter and I had a lot of fun doing the "photo shoot" for the book I'm giving away. I think it turned out pretty nice...

If you're interested, its a HUGE multi-author event with tons of books and a $100 Amazon gift card!

Heading into the holiday season, I hope to get back into the groove of writing. Despite all the social engagements and shopping, I am determined to stay on task...most of the time. And give myself permission to procrastinate if I have to.

Hopefully, the words will start flowing again.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Revisiting Old Haunts

When I was younger, maybe high school, I discovered detective novels. Not modern ones. The old-school, hardboiled detective thrillers like Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Agatha Christie -- crime fiction fraught with drama. I was immediately addicted.

My book heroes moved from the curious teens of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew storylines to the grizzled detectives, the private eyes with snappy wit, the keenly observant yet horribly vain inspectors. My love for a good chase led me deeper down the suspense rabbit hole to Gothic mysteries where I discovered the deliciously brooding Victoria Holt and Du Maurier.

My husband and I recently started on another reading aloud kick. We previously went through a few of Connelly's books. But this time I was in the mood for something nostalgic. Something that elicited the forlorn notes of a lone jazz trumpet or visions of hot steam rising off a dark street. So, we're reading The Maltese Falcon. My husband has never read it or seen the movie and I'm excited to see how he reacts to the twists and turns.

As a suspense writer myself, I love to see genuine surprise or worry at a turn of events in any story, not just my own books. We're having a blast!  I wonder what other books are worth another read through...and another. What are your favorites that you return to again and again?

Or better yet, what books do everyone love that you just couldn't get into? I'd love to know.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

The Secrets Beneath the Streets

Photo by Yohei Shimomae on Unsplash
As an author, research is the icing on the book-writing cake for me. On top of feeding my thirst for newer and newer hobbies, it helps me to feel like I am writing in the most authentic way possible. For instance, I took gun and skip trace lessons to write my private investigator heroine in Purple Knot. I learned shorthand and found the courage to woman-up and eat alligator for my journalist character in the southern suspense, Bayou Blue. Its one of the best parts of writing because it forces you to stretch into the story. To learn something you might never have wanted or needed to study. That's why I love it.
This is even more true when it comes to the setting and location of my books. To better understand the local lore for Gothic mystery, Secrets at Crescent Point, I took underground walking tours of Seattle's "haunted" spots, learned about the mystifying lights seen off the shore of Orca's island, and of course, visited the famous Pike Place Market. Those fish mongers throwing massive fish over your head is a must see!
So when I began my current WIP, a Sci-Fi thriller set in near future Silicon Valley, I was super excited to use every part of my beloved state. From the aromatic and bustling China Town to the gleaming bastions of high tech innovation in southern San Francisco Bay, Veridian truly revels in the sights and sounds of California.
Photo by Randy Jacob on Unsplash
Something that truly piqued my interest were the stories and images by urban explorers of the abandoned tunnels and ghost stations that spiderweb undetected throughout the area. 

Apparently, there is a vast unknown commotion just beneath our feet. Closely guarded are the entrances and location to keep them from being sealed off by the cities, these places are fascinating to me. And in fact, are featured prominently in my upcoming novel. My heroine, Elara Savoya, tracks stolen tech wherever it goes no matter what. It takes her to some dangerous and breathtaking places.
If you are ever in California, I encourage you to slip in some exploration between Disneyland and the beach. All along the state but particularly from San Francisco to LA there are places to see that will definitely make an impression.
For instance, Los Angeles has underground sublevels that drill down as much as three stories beneath the street and once housed creepy veteran's hospital overflow rooms, dank storage space, and even fallout shelters. Needless to say, I was hooked on the legends and ghost stories surrounding these abandoned places, especially after seeing some of the elaborate d├ęcor of some of the abandoned stations. I wondered who would choose to live there as I've heard some do. I wonder why and what they were like.
What about where you live? Are there any places off the beaten track that just spark your imagination? I'd love to hear about them.