What Do You Think of Multi-Genre Authors?


Like many authors, I have ideas for books in different genres. My first two books are mysteries, but the real point of them is the psychological motives behind the actions of the characters. I like delving into the mind, asking why. I like writing about real people, facing real problems, and reacting as individuals.

I’m working on a literary novel, one that may become a series. The basis of it is the way people raised in the same household can turn out so different. They think differently, have different motives, etc. I’d love to be able to write such a book, and promote it right here, on this blog, which has so far only promoted my mystery books.

Of course, I do promote all kinds of books on this site, mystery, thriller, time-travel, fantasy, historical, romance, etc. But I’m wondering how my followers would feel about me promoting my own writing in different genres on this site. I’d love to hear from you. How do you feel about this subject? Would you rather not read about my exploits in different genres on this site? Or do you feel that as long as I stick with the psychological drama of life, it would still fit with your interests?

 

The Dangers of Research


As an author, I’m always doing research. But research for my work in progress, ULTIMATE GAME, A Trey Fontaine Mystery, has made me take a second look at using my own computer for internet searches. I mean, really, how many people research how to make cocaine, and human trafficking, and cargo planes used by drug lords? I had to find answers like, how far is it from Jamaica to Columbia? How much land in Columbia is used to grow cocoa? How much does a kilo of pure cocaine cost? What is the best route for flying cocaine from Columbia to America? Through Canada?

Makes me wonder if I”m on a watch list or something. I mean, I’m just a normal person, but this book has pulled me into the nastier side of humanity. When I was finished researching the world of drug lords and following the creation of cocaine from the fields of South America to the American teen, I had to start on human trafficking, prostitution, etc. What would a madame pay for a string of young, beautiful American girls? Who else might they be sold to? An Arabian sheik? A Japanese businessman? What would they pay to have an American girl as a sex slave?

Well, at least I’ve finished the worst of the research. I’m now working on the names of streets in France, and how the maid of a drug lord in Colombia might answer the phone. And a few Spanish words. Much milder stuff. Stuff that shouldn’t draw so much attention to me.

Maybe I should change my name. Or do my deep research at a large library. Or find someone I really don’t like, make nice, and then use their computer! Hey, anyone out there want to do research for my next Trey Fontaine mystery? It’s about child molesters.

She Was A Good Daughter


The following is an article that will run in the local paper this week.  The first four paragraphs are from the editor, and constitute a political statement. The rest is from me, and is a personal account of the loss of a  friend.

During a interview on October 10, 2012, with the Columbus Dispatch, the former Massachusetts governor said he would give people a window of time to make a “choice” to buy insurance — even if they had pre-existing conditions.

And for those who didn’t make the “choice” to pay for coverage and got sick anyway, “Romney minimized the harm,” according to the paper.

“We don’t have a setting across this country where if you don’t have insurance, we just say to you, ‘Tough luck, you’re going to die when you have your heart attack,’” he explained. “No, you go to the hospital, you get treated, you get care, and it’s paid for, either by charity, the government or by the hospital.”

“We don’t have people that become ill, who die in their apartment because they don’t have insurance.”

She was a good daughter. And a good mother. There were those years when things were really tough. When her husband deserted her and her children. When she had to quit school and get a minimum wage job to support her family. When the economy tanked and they had to move in with her dad because she’d been laid off.

It’s hard to find work without a good education. Especially when things are tough even for those with college degrees. But she never gave up.

She wasn’t perfect. There were those times when she needed a break, when she was so depressed she didn’t want to get out of bed. Those times were short lived. Her dad had worked his whole life, feel good or not. Sick or not. He’d taught her and her siblings to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get on with it. She wouldn’t find sympathy just because she’d had to quit school. Raising kids without their dad. Laid off because business was slow.

So after the kids were on the school bus, and the kitchen straightened, off she went. Putting in applications. Smiling. Hoping. Finally, she found work, as a housekeeper at a hospital. Not just any hospital either. The best hospital in Kansas City, one of the best in America. Her smile was so big when she got home with the good news.

A few months later she bought a used car, and shortly after that, rented an apartment. Things had to get back to normal now. The raise she received with her six month review wasn’t much, but she was proud of it. Ten months and she’d never missed a day of work. Two more months and she would qualify for a retirement package, health insurance for her family, vacation. She’d never gone on vacation, never had a job with benefits.

Then one morning she woke up with an upset stomach and a fever. A couple of aspirin and she was off. Had to work. No personal time or sick leave. Not yet. But someday soon. Just keep mopping those floors, scrubbing those toilets. Just keep going. That’s what she’d been taught and that’s what she did.

A week passed with no change. The fever refused to leave and the upset stomach became vomiting. She was achy, weak and fatigued. Just the flu. Everyone goes through it. She asked one of the other housekeepers to change days off for just this one week, so she could get herself well. A couple of days off. Some over-the-counter meds, and she’d be fine.

When she returned to work, she was still sick. She wanted to talk to her boss, to be moved to an area where she wouldn’t be around patients, but she was afraid. Losing the job was not an option. So, she grabbed a surgical mask, and gloves, and tried to fade into the woodwork.

Another week passed. Her stomach was better, but her body ached, especially her back. Then one day her boss was walking down the hall and their gazes met. That look on the woman’s face. She would never forget that.

“Are you okay, Darlene?”

“Yes, ma’am,” she responded.

“You’re looking a little…yellow.”

“I’m fine,”

“No. You’re not. I think you need to go home. You can return when you have a doctor’s note saying you can work.”

“But…”

“Have you seen a doctor?”

“No, ma’am. I’m just a little tired. I’m fine though.”

“Put your cart away. Go see a doctor.”

And that was that. What could she say? No insurance. No money. No doctor. It was a simple equation. Well, if she wanted to keep her job, she would have to come up with the money, somehow. The auto insurance was due. She could use that money for a doctor’s appointment. Then she could go back to work and pay the auto insurance out of the next check. When she got home, she looked carefully in the mirror. Make-up hid the color of her skin, but the whites of her eyes were no longer white. They were yellow.

It wasn’t easy to find a doctor who didn’t require insurance. And as it turned out, the money for the auto insurance was not enough. Dipping into gas money and food money was scary, but she had to have this job.

“How long have you been sick?” the doctor asked.

“A few weeks.”

“I’m going to order some tests,” he said as if he was talking to a rich person.

“I don’t have insurance,” she said, twisting a tissue in her fingers.

He stopped writing and stared at her as if some disgusting word had escaped from her lips.

“Darlene, you are really sick. Jaundice is a sign of liver problems. This is nothing to play around with.”

Fear had grabbed her heart and pulled it up into her throat. “Can I still go to work? My boss wants me to get a release from you, so I can work. I’ll have insurance soon. I’ve been at this job for almost a year. If I can just keep the job, I’ll be able to get the tests done then. I only came to get the release.”

“I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t order these tests.”

“Yes, sir.”

She waited in the lobby. Finally, the nurse came out with the work release and a handful of papers about the tests. Sitting in the driver’s seat, she looked everything over before dropping the papers in the passenger seat and hurrying back to work. The next morning she called the office where the tests were to be done to ask about fees. Payment was expected at the time of service. More than a thousand dollars.

She was a good daughter. And a good mother. Even when the weakness and fatigue became overwhelming. Even when the vomiting started again. And the pain worsened. Three weeks later she passed out in the hallway of the hospital where she’d been mopping. They put her on a gurney and rushed her to emergency. She could feel hands raising her up, could feel the gurney under her body. Her mind screamed that she had to get back to work, but she was too weak and too sick to get the words out.

“You have liver disease,” the doctor said.

“But why? I’m not a drinker.”

“You have a virus that has gone untreated for too long. The virus made your liver weak, too weak to filter properly. See, your liver is the filter for your body. Everything in your blood goes through the liver and, normally, is filtered out. But the untreated virus was too strong. The liver was attacked and damaged. These things happen. We can set you up for dialysis, but that’s only a temporary fix. You need a transplant.”

“What does that cost?”

“I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. You have to have it.”

Two more weeks and she’d qualify for medical insurance. If she could just hold on for two more weeks.

“I don’t have insurance,” she told him.

He thumbed through the chart. “Let me see what I can do.”

A few hours later, the nurse came in with a smile. “Good news. The doctor says you can go home.”

Good. I’ll go back to work, and in a couple of weeks, when I have insurance, I can see the doctor again.

The few days in the hospital had really helped. She felt stronger and more energetic. The boss was in her office when Darlene arrived.

“I’m back,” she said with a smile.

“Come on in, and sit down,” her boss said.

Let go. That’s what they call it. They had ‘let her go.’

Then came the paperwork. Applying for unemployment. Applying for Medicaid. Waiting. More papers. More waiting. Medicaid was finally approved, with a five hundred dollar per month spend down, money she would have to provide for her care before Medicaid kicked in.

Two weeks later, she died.

She was my baby girl. She was a good daughter. And a good mother. Who didn’t have medical insurance. This is a true story. I’m betting it would be accurate to say this story has been true thousands of times over.  And for those of you who don’t know, transplants are elective surgeries.

My Middle Is Sagging!


As all writers know, it’s that sagging middle of a manuscript that can make us crazy. My WIP has a great beginning and a bang up ending, but that darned middle looks like a string hanging down between two pieces of wire.

I don’t know how authors put out two, or three, or a dozen books a year!. How do they take the characters from safe and happy in the beginning, through a maze of problems, and bring them out the otherside? Well, I know all about bringing them out the other side. The ending of my WIP is kick butt rock solid. If only I knew what to do with those twenty chapters before the end, that keep the reader on the edge of his or her seat. Well I did it once, so I guess I can do it again. But for the life of me, I can’t remember how I did it the first time.

I’d love to hear from other writers as to how they manage to fill in that middle. I’ve found that it’s not so hard to get the characters in trouble, but getting them out in a believeable way is the trick.

I’m IT! A Game of Tag


My Work-In-Progress has been tagged by the funny and amazing Marion Allen. You may want to visit her at http://www.marianallen.com and read about her WIP. But first, since I’m IT, it’s my turn to answer ten questions about my WIP and tag five other writers.

Here are the questions:

 What is the working title of your book?

  Ultimate Game, A Trey Fontaine Mystery.  This is book two of the series.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Basically, I stole it. I watched a movie entitled Human Trafficking and my brain started firing on  at least half of its cylinders.

 What genre does your book fall under?

 It will be sold as a mystery but would easily fit into police procedural, suspense and thriller.

 Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

This is really easy because I use actors when building my characters, so readers can easily ‘see’                    them.

                 Alexis Claire Edwards (Angelina Jolie) FBI

                 Trey Fontaine  (Brad Johnson) FBI 

                 Roberto Fausto   Martinez Hopkins  (David Zayas) FBI MCVO

                 Olesia Kasztelewicz (Reese Witherspoon) UC FBI at casino

                 Russell Coleman (Morgan Freeman)  Retired Det/PI

                 Voletta Samantha Drake (Carmyn Manheim) Computer Geek

                 Joan Elizabeth Edwards (Jessica Alba) Victim of Human Traffickers

                 Joseph Dell Papillion (Michael Douglas) Casino Mgr/Drug Dealer

                 Willie Markray (Vin Diesel) Papillions’s bodyguard

                 Mela Klimas  (Jamie Lee Curtis)  JoDell’s Personal Asst

                 Snow Alcibiades (Uma Thurman) Buys women/sells drugs

 

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

 A sixteen year old girl trying to settle a score with the attacker of her FBI sister, becomes a victim of human traffickers and the main target of the Ultimate Game.

 

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I don’t have an agent but I do have a great publisher:  LL-Publications, who published the first book in this series—Ultimate Justice, A Trey Fontaine Mystery.

 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

 I actually wrote some of this book, while I was writing the first book in the series. Then it sat for a few years. And now I’m at it again. I’m hoping to finish the rough draft by my birthday, toward the end of the year. The editor is patiently waiting. Oh, wait! I didn’t answer the question. At least two years of actual work.

 What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

 Trapped by Greg Iles and Stalemate by Iris Johansen. I’m not comparing my skill to these authors, but there is an element in each of them that reminds me of what my characters are going through and how they react to the situations they find themselves in.

 

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

 When I wrote book one of the series, Ultimate Justice, A Trey Fontaine Mystery, this story started to intrude.  I blame it on the main character. He didn’t really have time to deal with this part of the story in book one, so  he’s left with finishing it now.

 

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

 Mothers and other relatives searching for their missing girls; the only Black detective on a police force in southwest Louisiana; a woman who makes Trey Fontaine absolutely crazy; and villains you love to hate while feeling compassion for them.

So, now that you’ve learned about my WIP, stay in touch, because later this week, I will reveal the five authors I have tagged, so you can learn about theirs.

#Ryder’s Journal–Wednesday December 14, 2011


2011 has been a long year. Yes, my book was published, which was wonderful. And yes, it’s getting great reviews. But personally, life has been hard. I was diagnosed with a third invisible disease this year. My husband’s decline has worsened. But my faith has increased and I feel blessed every day to have a home, and family and friends, and to know where my next meal is coming from–things that a lot of Americans don’t have these days.

The plan for 2012 is to finish book two of the Trey Fontaine Mystery series and get it published while promoting book one. I have been close to bed ridden for a while now, able to get up, but without energy or strength. So my health is going to have to come first. My plan for that is to increase my supplements, eat better, and move a little more. And I’m hoping to finally find a solution to the pain issue.

For now, I still want to add to my journal daily and will try again to do that. Please bear with me as I push forward.

Characters Run Amuck: What do you do when a character takes over and develops a mind of her own?


This article is part of the Rolling Mystery Blog Tours Ink blog hop for Monday, December 12, 2011. For other articles on this subject, see the list of other participants below the article.

And now for my article: Characters Run Amuck

Have you ever had a character hijack your story and run with it? I hate it when that happens.  In my debut novel, Ultimate Justice, A Trey Fontaine Mystery,  there is a character named Gemini Taylor who likes to be in charge. She kept trying to become the lead and push all the other characters out of the way. I can’t count how many pages she stole before I finally got her under control.

I think maybe this comes from being able to identify with the character. We see ourselves in that character and want her to succeed, and so we let her get away with stuff that no one else can. But ultimately, the writer has to make a decision and take back control. My way of handling it is to go ahead and write all those pages the character demands, then pick the best of the writing and put the rest in a folder to save for later, just in case. I find this works for me because I’m not eliminating the words, nor refusing to let the character speak.

I try to keep in mind the fact that I created this character, and ultimately, she is part of me. I must let her speak, but I don’t have to let her make the final decisions. I have a friend who is a writer. She told me that while she was writing a book that had a minor character in it, that character started visiting her and bugging her to write a book where he was the lead. She explained to him that in the next book, he would be the lead, but this book had to be finished first. That seemed to work for her.

Yes, we both sound a little nuts, but after all, aren’t most writers a little off? I mean, really, what kind of person can think up this stuff, create people out of thin air and make you believe they are real, and their stories are real? We sit for hours day dreaming, planning, creating, until we have the right people, in the right circumstances, to entice readers to spend hours with those people and care about their story. And don’t tell anyone, but some of us are…uh…wacko.

Take me for instance. I love to get into the heads of serial killers, rapists, molesters, and assorted fiends. I can live there for a long time. That can’t be the sign of a normal well-adjusted person, can it?

For another article on this subject, please visit: 

Kathleen Kaska at http://kathleenkaskawrites.blogspot.com