7 Criminal Minds post 2017-10-03 – ADVICE FROM HERE

“If you could talk to the person you were when you were writing your first-published novel, what insights and guidance would you give yourself about the writing life?”


When I first read this question, I started compiling a list of all the MANY MANY things I could tell my young self as I started plunking away at Draft 1 so many years ago.

I’ve come up with moral support and technical pointers, assurances that all will be okay, in spite of the heartbreak, tears, crumpled up rejection letters, and the negative advice I kind of picked up in the vibes of anything I read about trying to publish: you never will. It’s impossible.

Joining the writing community earlier on than I did would be a good suggestion for the younger me. More so, learn the ABCs of plot development, which will save a ton of rewrites. Above all, keep submitting those manuscripts in spite of disappointment, because it will happen, I can tell you that assuredly from where I sit. So chill, girl!

But on further reflection, I guess it would be folly to try to change who I was, because who I was is who I am, and the road I travelled had to be travelled. I kept writing in spite of ignorance of the rules and my doom and gloom expectations. So now I can say it was steeliness, or gumption, or foolhardiness, or some such thing that got me here, rather than a promise dangled from a future self.

The only bit of advice I would be tempted to tell myself is: Open your eyes a little wider; explore, ask questions, listen, take pictures, make note of the geography. You may not be by this way again, and that person you’re talking to may be gone tomorrow ( believe it or not, people do die).

What you’re experiencing right now is pure gold. Live it!

I probably wouldn’t have listened, but that’s what I’d tell myself from here.

7 Criminal Minds post 2017-09-19 – On the Shelf

Q: If you were kitting out a holiday cottage (vacation rental) what would you put on the bookshelf for rainy days?

A: My new E-reader.

When I ask people if they read books on e-readers, their reaction is pretty clear: ugh!

I felt the same to a degree. Another modern convenience that seems to speed up and depersonalize life. You can’t feel where you are in the book (beginning, middle, end), you can’t commune with the author quite so well, and so on… There’s also remuneration; does the author get as much for an e-book as a hard copy? I’m not clear on the economics, but I’m sure it’s considerably less.

On the other hand, maybe ten people who wouldn’t have been able or willing to spend the money on that author’s hard copy will take a chance with the more affordable e-book, which brings the added value of  more readers.

Having an e-reader myself for a couple of months, I don’t find it as loathsome as I expected. I think accepting the e-book into my heart is key. I can still commune with the author – it’s the words, not the paper after all, though books are beautiful as objects. With my e-reader, the type gets larger as my eyes get tired — no more #@*$ reading glasses! It’s got a velvety case which is nice to the touch, and in the night its screen is like a little glow-worm. This coming winter I won’t freeze my hands trying to hold a paperback open in bed — I don’t know how many times a book has dropped on my face, knocking my reading glasses askew and losing my place — but instead will just reach out a finger now and then and flick to the next page.

Also I don’t have to find space on my many, many overcrowded bookshelves. And I can make notes, too, right on the page, which is coming in handier than I thought. Yes, with a paperback I could take notes on a separate notepad, but will I? Like reading instruction manuals — no.

There are more benefits. When I head off to my holiday cottage I can pack light, yet stock the shelves with all my past, current, and future reading thrills, AND have room left for a whiskey decanter and a couple of glasses.

For sentimental reasons I might take a few musty, dog-eared Ed McBains though.

Back to the real question, what will I read in my getaway cabin? Lots of Nordic crime! I haven’t really explored this niche until assigned to moderate a panel at the upcoming Bouchercon called “Northern Crimes”, and I thought OMG, I better start reading, fast. I’m not a fast reader, but I’m now on the fifth of the five panelists, and they’re all so excellent.

I’m reading
Kelley Armstrong (Canada)
Caro Ramsay (Scotland)
Antti Tuomainen (Finland)
Alex Gray (Scotland)
Ragnar Jonasson (Iceland).

For some reason, I seem to identify with books in which the weather is miserable — dreich in fact — and the landscape forbidding. Maybe being born in Britain did it.

Anyway, I’m happy to report I love these writers’ work and look forward to meeting and talking with them in person. There are so many other books out there to read that it’s daunting, but I feel like this moderating challenge has got me out of my reading comfort zone (aka rut), and I’m glad of that.

If you’re at Bouchercon in Toronto on October 14 at 1 pm, I hope you can attend. Let’s talk books!

7 Criminal Minds Post 2017-09-05

BUSINESS: Do you have a literary executor named in your will? What would you like (or loathe!) to have happen to your work when you’ve shuffled off this mortal coil?

A good question. I hope I live a good long while, but in the off chance that I don’t, it would be good to have this problem worked out in advance, now that I’ve gone and created this monster: a published series. These monsters (also sometimes known as assets) go crashing along on their own, but need their creators there with them. I can’t imagine what mine will do in this world without my company. What a sad thought!

But it’s a thought that must be confronted. Until this good question was asked, I actually didn’t know there was such a thing as a literary executor. Now I do, and have researched it a bit, and it seems that if you have a literary agent, that is the best person/firm to entrust with such legalities — so that is what I will do.

That’s the easy part of this question. The other part is, what happens to my unfinished series left hanging, all my protagonists and antagonists having skidded to the edge of the cliff and just kind of  left suspended there, mid-grapple, not knowing what will happen next.

I guess it’s just like life itself: c’est la vie. I write a series, with a backstory running through it. Would it be a good idea to write up a neat series summary, for anybody who wants to know what happens — or would have happened if I hadn’t popped my clogs without warning? Not really, as I don’t know what the end result will be myself, not a hundred percent, not yet. Probably best to take it with me.The better scenario is I wrap it all up before then, get my final copy edits in, and leave this mortal coil knowing that my monster is living peacefully in the clouds of somebody else’s imagination…