Scariest Book You Ever Read

This article is part of the Monday roll for the Rolling Mystery Blog Tour Ink group. Below the article is a list of other participants with articles on the same subject.  Please take the time to visit their sites and get different opinions on the topic of the Scariest Book You Ever Read.  Here is my answer to that question:

This is a simple one for me. Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi is by far the scariest book I ever read. I was a teen when the Tate/LaBianca murders took place. Charles Manson and his followers scared the @#$^$%^  out of me.

I read the book when I was in college, living with two small children in a townhouse. I couldn’t go upstairs for weeks because that left the downstairs without anyone  to make sure no one got in. I wrote a report on the book and the crime as part of one of my Administration of Justice classes.

I still cringe when any news of Charles Manson or any of his group is shown on tv. There’s something about true crime that’s just scary–more so than Stephen King, Dean Koontz, or any other horror genre book. I don’t worry too much about vampires, zombies, werewolves, extraterrestrials, ghosts or goblins, but Charles Manson is a whole different animal.                                                                                                                                                                   

#Point of View and The Writer’s View

I’ve been working on a literary romance and it’s driving me crazy. The plan is to write from the points of view of each of the two main characters–hero and heroine in the normal vernacular, though I don’t think these labels fit so well. Both characters are doctors, specialists.

I want to write in first person present for one, and third person past tense for the other. I know this will probably be hard to sell, because it’s not the ‘normal’ way. But I have a very good reason for doing it this way, and I think when I finally get it sold, it will be a big hit. I have a deep belief in this story.

My current publisher doesn’t publish this kind of work, and I have agreed to write book two of the Trey Fontaine Mystery  trilogy, so working on this is postponed, though it fills my mind at times.  But I’m wondering how other writers deal with this process of deciding when to fulfill the vision of the story, and when to do what you know editors and agents want.

Laptop vs. Desktop

I’ve wrestled with this issue for years. I started with a desktop, but I couldn’t take it with me and by the time I got home I was too exhausted to really use it for writing.
Then I got a laptop, which was great for carrying around, though back then they were a lot heavier than nowadays. But I found I did not like getting online with it. And then there was the issue of repairs. My laptop lost a key and I quickly learned that there was no way to repair it. It was cheaper to buy a new one.
Again I bought a desktop, knowing I could always get another keyboard, or monitor, or whatever, if something broke. But I was very uncomfortable at the desk. I bought a great ergonomic chair, which helped, but the desk would only fit in the living room, and I didn’t usually spend a lot of time there. So I bought a laptop.
Now I have a desktop at my desk, which sits in my bedroom. And I have a laptop. The desktop is for online research and communication. I rarely use it to write. I use the laptop for writing only. I have a great lap desk I made to my own specifications and when I have weeks where I just can’t sit in the chair, I can do some writing on my laptop.
A few years back I met a very famous writer who did a speech at a conference. She talked about how she had an invisible disability that had made her bedridden for a year, and it just happened to be a year when she’d just signed a contract for book two in a series. Her hubby bought her a laptop and she would work in tiny increments in bed. She managed to make her deadline, and also worked on her health, which eventually helped her get up and get somewhat better.
I love that I have both a desktop and a laptop. Both get used. I never have to worry about viruses that will destroy my work because my laptop is never connected to the net. And I know that I have a way to get in touch with other writers, teachers, and friends via my desktop. It’s the best of both worlds. I hope I never have to pick just one.
I’d love to hear about the experiences of others. What do you think?

What Do #Readers Want?

This is part of the Monday roll for the Rolling Mystery Blog Tour Ink group. Below my article you will find a list of blogs belonging to other members who are participating in this roll and writing on the same subject. Please take time to stop by the participating blogs and see what others have to say about What Readers Want.

And now for my article: What Do Readers Want? 

I think one thing writers don’t think about when we are writing is that readers want value for their money. The economy is tough and money is hard to come by.  Books can be borrowed from libraries, and friends, and purchased used, so to lay out hard-earned money for a new book means something to the reader. They expect to really enjoy that read. If it’s a mystery, they are expecting to help solve it. If it’s a thriller, they are expecting to be scared. If it’s a romance, they expect to fall a little in love with a character, and be very pleased by the ending.

Readers are expecting to be really entertained, to spend hours with characters they care about, and to be fully satisfied when they put that book down. Entertainment these days is very expensive. A movie and dinner for two can easily cost sixty dollars, or more. Tickets for the theatre, baseball, football, and basketball games, or a night of dinner and dancing is  just outrageous. But some people will pay those prices because they are being entertained. It’s tough for a writer to compete with that.

As writers, we have to work harder than ever before to make our books brilliant, our characters real, our plots big, and our writing unique. And then we have to make sure the price is competitive, the marketing is as exhaustive as possible, and the entertainment value the biggest bang for the buck. Other than that, writing these days is a piece of cake!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

What’s More Important: Character or Plot?

This article is part of the Rolling Mystery Blog Tours Ink group. To read articles on this subject from other members of the group, see the list of participants and their blog addresses below.

And now for my article on Character vs Plot

There was a time when it was normal and acceptable to write novels with strong plots and flat characters. Back then it was really all about plot, and that was especially true for the mystery genre. I personally think writing has evolved into something deeper that now requires great characterization. Plot is important in the typical novel, but readers want to love the characters too. Mysteries and thrillers require good characterization because the reader needs to identify with the characters, to feel the fear, and anxiety, and solve the mystery.

There are whole books and classes dedicated to plot, and the same is true for characterization. Some writers create a believable plot and then people it with believable characters. Some writers create great characters and write a story in which they fit. Both kinds of writing works. There are genres that lend themselves to more characterization and less plot, like literary and romance. And there are genres like the mystery and thriller, where the plot has to be strong no matter who the characters are.  But in the end if a novel doesn’t have a strong plot with great characters, it’s probably going to sit on the shelves for a long time.

If you’re a writer, you have to work hard to make the reader happy. That can’t be done with mediocre characters or plots. Learn what you have to learn so  you can create a masterpiece that includes both plot and character. If you don’t write, but you’re a reader, let authors know what you like. Go to the websites of authors whose books you’ve read and tell us exactly what you enjoyed about out novels, and what we could improve upon. It doesn’t matter if the author is Jame Patterson, Karen Robards, Jennifer Blake, or me. We need to know how to please the readers so let’s hear from you.

Below is a list of blogs where you can find more articles on the subject of Plot vs Character.

Crime of Passion, Opportunity, or Premeditation?

This article is part of the Mystery Writer’s Rolling Blog Tours Ink. Other bloggers involved in this roll are listed below my article and will be blogging on the same topic.

And now for my article on Crime of Passion, Opportunity, or Premeditation?

This is such a fun topic! I don’t know that I’ve ever written a story involving a crime of opportunity. Crimes of passion fit into my writing well, because I like to write about the psychological aspects of crimes and criminals. I like to get into the heads of crazy people, evil people, strong people, weak people, killers, cops,good guys, bad guys, and nutzos.

But I enjoy reading all kinds of mystery, from cozies and comedies to thrillers. From Janet Evanovich to Stephen King. I truly enjoy reading something where I get to try to work out the puzzle. I’m the same way with movies and TV series. I don’t enjoy the open format where the reader/viewer knows more than the protagonist. I have more than 400 novels in these sub-genres.

I’m always open to reading and viewing suggestions, so please feel free to leave comments with your favorite mystery/suspense/thriller/cozy/mystery/police procedural, your favorite authors, shows, movies, etc.


Please take time out to visit the following blogs:

Maggie Toussaint–

Ryder’s Journal–Thursday, October 6, 2011

I’m wishing right about now that I had the chutzpah I had fifteen years ago. I keep making plans and beginning the implementation, but managing to keep up the pace just doesn’t happen.

I haven’t had a vacation for five years and it’s taking its toll. I’ve decided not to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. I need to focus my energy on the book I’ve already started. And I need to find a way to create when my brain is mushy.

At least the weather has become comfortable. I never recognized how much the weather affected me until the last year. I’m learning a lot about myself. I thought I knew me, but it turns out I don’t really.

People change. I’ve always known that. I just didn’t see it in myself. That would make a great subject for a book–recognizing the changes in self long after the changes have taken place.