What’s your favorite first line?

I’m excited! Hank Philippi Ryan, bestselling and award-winning author, is the guest speaker at my Sisters in Crime chapter (Citrus Crime Writers) meeting this afternoon. (Don’t worry, we aren’t meeting in person; we’re all on zoom).

Bestselling and award-winning author, Hank Phillippi Ryan

Ryan’s speaking topic is compelling first lines! And, she will provide feedback to those of us who are brave enough to share one of our first lines. Do I dare? Me, who suffers from imposter syndrome? Yes, I’m going to do it! I’m going to risk looking silly or stupid. I’m not going to be my usual shrinking violet, just keeping my mouth shut all the while wishing I could stand confidently and shout my first line to the world.

Photo by Irina Iriser on Unsplash

What is your favorite first line? Mine is “Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderley again” from Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca.

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Did St. Valentine Have Irish Roots?

St. Valentine may not have had Irish roots but nowadays his remains are rooted in Dublin, Ireland. Yes, that’s correct. In the 1800s an Irish Carmelite priest requested Valentine’s remains to be exhumed and moved to Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, Ireland. And, the pope agreed. So….it’s official. Valentine, the heart of hearts, has a place in Irish hearts.

St. Valentine shrine Whitefriar Street Church

Happy St. Valentines Day.

Until next time, keep the love going, Martha.

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Mystery, Thriller, or Suspense?

Are you a mystery, thriller, or suspense reader? And, why should you care?

Photo by alexey turenkov on Unsplash

It matters when you go to online book sellers to purchase your paperback book. If you are looking for a paperback mystery and mistakenly purchase a book that’s been categorized as a thriller or suspense novel, you might be a disappointed reader. And, unfortunately you might blame the writer for not meeting your expectations.

Whether you are a reader or an author, you need to know your genre. Mystery novels fall into several categories like: cozy, master detective, historical, paranormal, police procedural, and hard boiled. In a mystery novel, the inciting event (a murder) has occurred. And you, the reader, take on the challenge, along with the book’s main character, to solve the mystery. The pacing of the novel is slower than a thriller or suspense novel. The slower pacing allows the reader to examine the clues, determine the red herrings, and solve the “whodunit”.

In a thriller, the event hasn’t occurred yet or it has and more horrible events are about to unfurl. You and the novel’s character are in a race to stop the perpetrator. The pacing in a thriller is much faster than in a mystery novel. There is a race against time. The clock is ticking.

In a suspense novel, the reader knows the main character is in danger before the main character does. The reader’s heart is beating fast; you are in a sprint to get to the finish line where the main character is triumphant and the horrible events are stopped.

I write mystery novels that typically fall into the cozy mystery genre when categorized on Amazon. There are certain expectations that I commit to meeting for my readers. Each of my novels contains a stand alone mystery which must be solved by the amateur sleuth, Star O’Brien and the readers. Readers also get to work along with Star as she resolves to find out what happened to her mother. Star O’Brien is a likeable character. My books are professionally edited and formatted.

My professionally designed book covers focus on the setting, County Mayo, Ireland.

So, what kind of reader are you? I’d love to read your comments.

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Daffodils Again, Please

My kind neighbor arrived at my home a few days ago with a daffodil plant. All in an effort to make me smile. Here’s a picture of the cheery and elegant gift.

A cheerful reminder in my kitchen

A few weeks ago, I posted a picture of daffodils (taken a few years ago) in Cafe Rua’s window.

The daffodils are my way of thinking about spring, light, new birth, lengthening days. Whenever I’ve been fortunate enough to be in County Mayo, in February or March, the sight of daffodils pushing up everywhere put a lilt into my step and hope into my heart.

The feelings of hope are important to me right now. And, I imagine to many of us. For me, I’ve been most saddened to have to place my mom into a memory care home. I’m trying to face this with grace, courage, and strength. Thus, my neighbor’s act of kindness in giving me the daffodil plant.

So, on this first day of February, I wish you lots of daffodil moments in the coming months.

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Sneachta in Ireland

Sneachta is forecast in parts of Ireland today. No, I’m not talking about snacking or being snarky. Sneachta is the Irish word for snow. Snow rarely happens in Ireland’s fairly moderate climate. So, when it does snow, sneachta gets thrown around a lot. Because why not? If you live in a country where it rarely happens, you’ve got to make the most of the word when you can. Here’s a picture from a few years ago. We were in County Mayo in French Hill cottage. We woke up to sneachta!

December 2017 The View from the kitchen doorway

Later in the day when the temperature warms up and it’s safer to tackle the snow or ice covered roads, a brisk walk along Barney Road is most enjoyable. Just don’t forget to wear your wellies.

Barney Road with dusting of snow in French Hill

Thank you so much for reading my blog post today. I hope you enjoyed it. Please use the buttons below to share with your friends. If you haven’t already, sign up for my newsletter with stories and updates about Star O’Brien’s adventures in County Mayo, Ireland.