Posts Tagged ‘Mystery writing’

Is it really about redemption?

April 28, 2020

A number of years ago one of my favorite mystery authors, Carolyn Hart, was quoted as saying something about the relation of traditional mystery novels to redemption. I can no longer quote her exactly, but the link between mystery writing and redemption sure gave me a lot to think about.

I was just beginning my career as a traditional mystery author and had sold my first two novels to a publisher. Without thinking about it at all until Carolyn’s comment awakened me, my own interests, religious background, and motivations had created two mystery stories that did indeed lead to redemption in the lives of one or more characters. Not only that, I began to recognize a redemption theme or background in the work of other authors whose books I enjoyed most. It had been so subtle in both my own work and my enjoyment of other books that, until someone else brought it to my attention, I didn’t think about it at all.

And redemption solutions found or earned by book characters became a dominant idea in all my written work though I never struggled to make that happen or even, 90% of the time, attempted to make it happen in the plots.

More about this later on this blog, but, though it initially surprised me, not only have individuals in my stories been changed for the better by the end of a book, thoughts while creating these results have helped me personally.

More than once, remembering what my main female protagonist, Carrie McCrite, thinks while untangling human-caused danger and disaster has helped me find peace in less critical problems I have faced.

So, what do you think about redemption writing? Especially initially, I had no intention of writing for a Christian market. I do not preach. But I realize now that what comes out in my writing must be God-centered, though subtly enough that folks who are not church goers do not think of my books as “religious, ” nor, do a certain degree, do I. Comforting, yes, especially now in these disturbing times.

Comforting, most of all, to their author.

TAKE YOUR CHILD TO A BOOKSTORE DAY

December 6, 2011

The second annual national TAKE  YOUR CHILD TO A BOOKSTORE DAY was celebrated on  Saturday,  December 3.  TYCTBD was founded in 2010 by author Jenny Milchman.  Jenny is an active promoter and, in fact, went on a cross-country “vacation” tour across the USA this past summer, calling on bookstores all the way from her home in New Jersey to Portland, Oregon to promote the special day.

The idea caught my attention from the beginning and, this year, I contacted bookstores in my area of Arkansas about taking part. Four independent booksellers ended up joining with enthusiasm, bringing in children’s authors, holding special events like in-store  scavenger hunts,  and  story time.

Since the stores are in four different towns, I could only be at one. I presented the TAKE YOUR CHILD TO A BOOKSTORE DAY program for Trolley Line Books in Rogers, AR.

On that day I was afraid few would come since it had been raining, the weather was cold,  and Christmas parades were scheduled in several towns.

Though Trolley line is not a large store, the owner had set up space in a comfortably furnished back room and provided snacks and juice.  The program was scheduled for 10:00, and until almost ten we had one active girl and her grandmother.  I was talking to Chloe (the child) when a bustle from the front of the store interrupted us, and I looked out to see a crowd of people, children with moms and grandmoms flowing toward us.

We ended up with a good-sized group of children ranging in age from five to thirteen, and I wondered how children with such a wide spread of ages would respond to my program.  I soldiered ahead, and began by reading one of my published short stories suitable for children. The two youngest in the group were bored, I think, but their grandmother stayed with them in the room and managed to offer a bit of side entertainment.   From the reading, I moved on to telling a bit of child-oriented information about writing a mystery story. All the older children understood about having a main character, a “mess up” problem for them to solve, and an interesting place for the mess up to happen. I also talked about writing an opening sentence that invites a reader to continue with the story.   After I shared a few more child-size examples,  everyone was given a booklet with blank pages, a clip board, and a pencil.  Most of the children spent a short time thinking, then all but the youngest began to write.  (Grandmother got the two young-uns to do their story by drawing pictures. Bless her!)

There were questions, plus a bit of conversation and discussion during the writing time, but we were all engaged for maybe twenty minutes while a newspaper photographer moved around taking pictures. (He showed up early, and stayed for the entire program.  Distracting, but nice to be noticed–right?)

Now, I’d like to share with you the charming story written by one of the participants. She honored me by giving me her completed story at the end of the program.  (Side note:  The emphasis in many schools today is not necessarily on spelling or punctuation.  That isn’t this child’s fault. Her creativity is awesome, and her opening sentence definitely a hook.  Watch for her touches of humor!)

I present here  Christina Marshall’s story, THE DRAGON  (Written in twenty minutes with no chance for the author to go back and  edit.  Could the average  adult first draft  short-time writer do much better?)

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The Dragon is gone agian.

My Dragon keep’s geting away. Well I should tell yoo who my Dragon is he is a Dragon and his name is Bod. Bod all was gets away then come’s back for food. I try to keep him here but he keeps geting out and he needs to stay here because he Is not allow to be here because he’s a Dragon and the town is not a big fan of him.

I try to keep him here in my back yard because they try to take him away but I want to keep him. He is a baby a big baby. Here he come’s flying over my house and into my back yard.

He’s a good Dragon but people don’t know him so they are scard of him so when they see him they tell on him and the people will try to kill him but he know’s I willn’t hert him so he come’s to me when he is in troble. When he stays here I feed and give him a bath and keep him warm.

I have been trying to build a big back yard an inside yard well right now I have to feed him and he is geting mad at me because I have not got him something to eat.

By Christina Marshall, 6th grade, White Rock
Congratulations, Christina!  And may you become a best-selling author some day.

Let’s go to a convention….

April 15, 2009

There’s more fun to reading for fun than just the reading part.  (Did a professional writer really create that sentence?)

Book discussion groups, book reviewing, writers’ clubs, conventions….

Conventions.  I know they happen in most genres, as well as for poets, and for literary writers covering all areas of life.  There is at least one convention in New York specifically for women writers (and probably some for men).

I write in the mystery genre and there are dozens of fan/author conventions available to us around the United States each year. A few are huge, drawing thousands of people and offering a bewildering array of author panels, talks, and other writing-related events  for attendees to enjoy over several days. (Bouchercon, Malice Domestic.)  Most are smaller, expecting attendance ranging from a hundred or so to, maybe, five hundred. These are scattered all over the USA and most of the guests will be from a nearby area of the country.

Example?  Mayhem in the Midlands, held in Omaha, Nebraska each May.  Ever been to Omaha?  If not, you have a treat in store. It’s one of the most delightful cities my husband and I have ever visited.  The convention itself is held in an Embassy Suites hotel located in the heart of the city’s restored historic district. Brick streets lead tourists into fascinating shops with merchandise you aren’t likely to see anywhere else. (Much of it hand-fashioned in Nebraska.) My favorite is a shop carrying hand-made hats. There is a huge selection of restaurants for the hungry, and lots of entertainment otherwise. While at the convention, all of this is within easy walking distance. No struggle for parking.

A short ride will take you to a world-famous art museum, a superior zoo, and other attractions to fit individual interests.

Mayhem in the Midlands opens with a cocktail party and complimentary buffet on Thursday evening, May 21.  Make new friends and meet old ones.  There’s plenty of time to sit and chat, usually about the favorite topic– mystery writing.

The convention itself begins Friday morning with panels covering several topics. At 9:00 I’m moderating a panel titled “Not just a royalty check: What you need to know about being published.”  I’m also taking part as a panelist in “What difference does age make? Senior v. younger sleuths,” (Friday at 1:30), and “Causes and Casualties: Issue-driven fiction” at 10:00 on Saturday.

My husband John (who, thus far, has published only non-fiction) is also a panelist on “Marriage is a mystery: Meet the spouses” at 9:00 Saturday.

There are numerous special events as well, including a mystery dinner on Saturday night (actors chosen from conference attendees) and a fabulous Sisters in Crime breakfast buffet (included in registration) on Sunday, featuring Dana Stabenow and Jan Burke, both top-selling mystery authors.

What’s not to like?  Read the list of authors and all about the convention itself at http://www.omahapubliclibrary.org/mayhem

See you there?           Radine