As a confirmed miniaturist, everyday is DIY day. I've shared my mini projects before, but here's a different twist.
The miniature below is based on an important scene in a well known movie. Can you guess which one? A prize to anyone who can name the movie and describe the scene in detail. An independent panel of judges will choose the winning entry. :)
Ellen Kirschman has big news! She has signed a contract with Oceanview Publishing for the third in her Dot Meyerhoff mystery series. Working title is The Fifth Reflection. Pub date is July 2017.
Happy Homicides 4: Fall into Crime book launch is August 29. Grab a bountiful harvest of cozy mysteries, including six novellas and seven short stories, plus a special bonus file of recipes and crafts. Carole Price's first story, The Glass Birdhouse, is included.
Back to school! All classes start for Camille Minichino this week. “Science, Technology, and Social Change,” online for Golden Gate U. on Sunday, and “Writing” in person at Diablo Valley College, San Ramon, California, on Tuesday. Details at www.minichino.com/classes.
Margaret Lucke joins authors JoAnn Smith Ainsworth and Kate Jessica Raphael for a fun and informal panel about writing mysteries and crime fiction. Sunday, August 28 (today!), at 2 pm, at Barnes & Noble, Hacienda Crossings, 4972 Dublin Blvd., Dublin, CA.
Mysti Berry is sequestered in a house near Bodega Bay for the weekend to finish her next short story. She won’t emerge until the workplace murder story is finished.
One thing I like about reading crime fiction is that no matter what mood I'm in, there is a mystery novel out there to suit me.
Sometimes I choose a book that echoes my current mood. But at other times I prefer contrast to compare.
For instance, if I'm feeling happy and lighthearted, then a comic novel or a cozy mystery might be just the thing. But that also might be the time to enjoy something darker -- a thriller, a hardboiled detective story, a noir tale -- since I'm less susceptible to the fear or sadness that the story could evoke.
Suppose I've got the grumps or the blues. In that case an upbeat book might be just what I need to lift my spirits. But a grim story can often do that too. After all, most of the victims in crime novels -- and often the protagonists and the villains, for that matter -- are going through situations far worse than anything I'm subject too.
If I'm reading a novel and find I'm not in the mood for it, I have no problem with setting it aside and picking up a different one. Fairly often I consume what I think of as a reading sandwich -- I'll set down a book when I'm half done with (the first slice of bread), read a different book all the way through (the filling), and then return to the first one (the bread on top). Now and then, I admit, the sandwich is open-faced, in that I never return to the original book, no longer being in a receptive mood.
What's important to me is a book that pulls me in and immerses me fully in the story. It has been said that the purpose of fiction is to give readers an emotional experience. When a story pulls me deep inside its world and gets me fully involved in what's happening there, then whatever is going in my real life fades away.
I'm always in the mood to read a really good book.
You know you’ve read a good book when you’ve turned the last page and feel a little disoriented, maybe at a loss because you want more, or maybe you’re not ready for the story to end. I mostly read books of intrigue, no matter what my mood is. But if I’m hyper—nervous, jumpy— sometimes I’ll turn to one of many Agatha Christie books on my shelf. I don’t have to concentrate to enjoy them. Like music, books give me a sense of well-being. I don’t have to purchase expensive anti-depressant medications to feel better.
But when I’m in a nostalgic mood, I’ll reread one of Philip Craig’s books, known for his Martha’s Vineyard mysteries. I have maybe a dozen of his books. His protagonist, J. W. Jackson, enjoys the simple things of life: freshly caught seafood, cooking, good friends, and family. And, of course, I can reminisce about my vacations on the island. Anne Rivers Siddons is another author for when you’re in a nostalgic mood. One doesn’t just read her books, one dwells in them. Her books include Nora, Up Island, and Peachtree Road. She writes stories set mostly in the south. They’re mesmerizing and totally unforgettable.
If I’m clueless, paranoid, disgruntled, or confused, which I’m likely to be at times, and I can’t find something to read from here,
“The library was a little old shabby place. Francie thought it was beautiful. The feeling she had about it was as good as the feeling she had about church. She pushed open the door and went in. She liked the combined smell of worn leather bindings, library paste and freshly inked stamping pads better than she liked the smell of burning incense at high mass.” ― Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
As I’ve said before, I used to look forward to the summers when I was in college so I could read whatever book I wanted, and not be required to wade through an uninteresting (and unreadable) so-called “classic.” For me, a “classic” was synonymous with “boooorrring.” Inevitably, I gravitated toward mysteries and thrillers. My tastes still lie in those areas, but I do pick up an occasional “classic” every once in a while. A few years back a professorial friend of mine gave me a book on disk of The Iliad, by Homer. Well, I at least gave it a try before putting that first disk back in the box and returning it to him… I also make it a point to read at least one nonfiction book a year. I’ve also explored other genres ranging from sci-fi to mainstream to westerns to romance. Choosing my next read depends on my mood.
I know what you’re thinking… Romance? Hardly the stuff a guy like me would be seen reading, right? Not to worry… If the mood does strike me, I have a selection of wrap-around paper covers displaying pictures of generic tough guys and semi-clad babes that I can temporarily affix to the book so as to hide the romantic cover. After all, I have an image to uphold.
Just teasing. I feel no need to hide my reading preferences. As I’ve said many times before, good writing is good writing. It all helps you in developing your writing style. There’s a lot to be learned from reading everything you can get your hands on, including the type of books you wouldn’t normally read. Bringing back my college day reading lists, I have no regrets about being forced to read some of the books on them because it was a learning experience. I truly hate some of them to this day, like Moby Dick, for instance, but wading through it (or at least trying to do so before I reached for the Cliff’s Notes) is all part of becoming a better writer. As a student of language, I try to learn from whatever I read, be it entertaining or not much so.
By the time I enrolled in graduate school I’d been reading what I liked for a good number of years, and I had a lot of life experience to go with it. I’m sure many of my grad school professors found my unabashed criticism of some of their assigned classics a bit unsettling, but college is a place of learning and being exposed to new ideas. To that end, I’m sure the Profs emerged more educated for the experience. I know I certainly did. Is it any wonder why many of them still cringe at the mention of my name? ;-)
I just finished my latest Executioner novel (working title, Fatal Prescription) and I feel in the mood to pick up a good book and relax. This can be an arduous task, however, since my “to read” stack is just a few books shy of touching the ceiling. Lately, the book that’s been calling to me is one that I read before, a long time ago: The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer. Although I struggled to master the Middle English of the original text back in my undergrad days, I came across a modern English translation that I used to help get me through that class in college. But I can still partially recite that opening line in the flowing Middle English:
Whan that aprill with his shoures soote,The droghte of march hath perced to the roote, And bathed every veyne in swich licour, Of which vertu engendred is the flour…
Close enough, I guess, but aren’t you glad we don’t talk like that anymore? Now, where’s that modern translation? The Canterbury Tales is basically a collection of short stories, and many of them are rather humorous. The cast of storytellers are traveling through the countryside and every night they gather around the campfire and one of them tells a story. As I said, some of the stories are humorous, and some are downright ribald. I always get a good belly laugh from “The Miller’s Tale.” I guess Chaucer’s goal was to say that the type of story told should depend on the mood of the teller and the listener as well. That’s good advice for readers of any era.
Margaret Lucke joins authors JoAnn Smith Ainsworth and Kate Jessica Raphael for a fun and informal panel about writing mysteries and crime fiction. Sunday, August 28, at 2 pm, at Barnes & Noble, Hacienda Crossings, 4972 Dublin Blvd., Dublin, CA.
Ellen Kirschman is keeping her fingers crossed about a contract for my third mystery. She doesn't want to jinx herself before everyone signs and the ink is dry. Hard to type with crossed fingers.
Do you choose your books based on your mood, or does the book you choose change your mood? Both? Join us next week as we explore the relationship of the books we choose and the feelings we have as we read them.
This is my first Lady Killers blog and the topic is politics. I mean, couldn't I have started with something simpler like sharing my favorite recipes (I don't have any) or what my writing schedule is like (I don't have one)? I was so pleased to be invited to join this luminary group I never asked about the topics. So here goes.
You may recall from Ann's lovely introduction of me on 8/7 that I am a working police psychologist who writes both non-fiction and mysteries. It's absolutely impossible to work in law enforcement and not get involved in politics. Unless you've been visiting another planet for the last few years, you are aware that our country is undergoing a wave of social unrest, much of which, excuse the expression, takes aim at law enforcement. I took on one of the most volatile topics in my second mystery, The Right Wrong Thing. It's the story of a white woman police officer who kills an unarmed, black, pregnant teenager and tries to apologize to the girl's family. I had two goals. I wanted to write a good story and show my readers what they weren't seeing in the news. How the suffering generated by such a tragic event is felt, not only by the dead girl's family, but also the officer, her family, and her therapist.
These are troubled, fear-filled times for police officers and their families. I'm under contract to write another edition of my first book, I Love a Cop: What Police Families Need to Know. This second edition will contain new chapters written to help police families cope with the current volatile, political atmosphere. It's no easy task to keep the book from becoming a bully pulpit for my personal point of view. That would be inappropriate. My job as a psychologist and an author is to serve the needs of my readers. (Click on the link below to read an open letter to police families).
I feel the same way about social media. It's a great vehicle for exchanging information and staying in touch. But it has become a bully pulpit for polarizing, often uninformed, ideas. I'd rather see pictures of your cat playing in a box than read a diatribe about why anyone who doesn't think the way you do should commit friendicide (I just made that word up.) In fact, the FB noise got so upsetting, I had to take a break. I love my friends and my family, but I don't always love their opinions or even need to know who they're voting for.
So Lady Killers, I'm going to wheedle out of the topic about jumping in or staying away from politics and say it depends on the situation. Can I have an easier subject next time?
While I try to stay current when it comes to political happenings, I avoid discussing them at all costs.
I watch the debates (although I must confess that my attention wanders when the candidates start repeating themselves), read the newspaper, and try to keep up with what’s going on in the elections. I even make a concerted effort to find out which side each candidate is on with the big issues like abortion, gun control, and taxes, and even the smaller issues, too. But when it comes to talking about these things, I’m out.
The problem is that I’m simply not that passionate about politics. I have opinions, but I have no interest in debating them with other people. In fact, I’ve found the people who most love to debate politics are the ones least likely to actually listen to the other side. They already have their opinions cemented in stone and have no intention of budging. If I agree with their opinion, that’s great. But if I don’t, why would I waste my energy arguing with them?
Fortunately, I’m married to a like-minded person. That’s not to say we always vote the same or are affiliated with the same party, but he is as disinterested in talking about political issues as I am. We watch the debates together and might make a comment or two on what the candidates are saying, but we never get into heated arguments or stay mad over each other’s opinions. We simply agree to disagree and let the matter drop. In this current political climate, I think that’s a good strategy.