Sometimes life is like a puppy’s dilemma.

Sometimes life is like a puppy’s dilemma. I use that phrase with a touch of humor this week. A lot happened. My good friend and author, Nick Johns agreed to read and provide feedback for Death at Ashford Castle. This is the second time Nick will spin through all 70, 000 words. He’s detail oriented so I know he’ll provide valuable feedback. And, if you like to read survival, apocalyptic type novels, check out his book The Darkest Winter on Amazon.

While Nick is busy with his review, I printed out all 245 pages and began reading them aloud to Bill. I’m using post-its in a variety of colors to make notes on each page. Next week I’ll update the current version with what I found during the read through. By the way, Bill likes it so far!

Then, the cover designer, Robin Vuchnich, sent me two cover design options to consider. It’s a difficult decision! Both of them are absolutely beautiful. As an Indie author, I’ve been told that cover design makes a big difference in readership. So I’m really taking my time with this decision. A few of my friends looked at them and so far it’s a tie. Dang! I was hoping for a tiebreaker to make my life easier.

And, we are noodling on an image for each book cover that would alert readers immediately that this is a Star O’Brien mystery. I have an idea that’s related to Star’s search for her mother. Maybe it will work. By the way, you can check out Robin’s web site at: www.mycustombookcover.com.

So, as depicted in my puppy’s photo here. There’s a lot to do and decisions to make. It ain’t easy. As Turlough’s face seems to say: do I stick with the sock or my avocado stuffed toy? It’s a dilemma. And, it’s also all something I’m grateful for and love to do!

Turlough seemed to have a dilemma. First, he was caught in the act! Second, he had to choose: the sock or his avocado toy.

In the meanwhile, keep the love going.

Martha

There’s a New Character in Town

I’m late in posting this week due to other commitments. I’m a member of a local Sisters in Crime Chapter and we had our monthly meeting today. Ruth Owen, an award winning romance author, was the guest speaker. She did a wonderful job of explaining what to do when developing characters. She also provided a wealth of resource books to look into regarding plot versus character.

Speaking of which…I write mysteries that I plot out before I begin writing. There’s a notebook for each of my stories. There are character descriptions, motivations, and hidden agendas. I call it my Star O’Brien Bible. Sometimes I write just one or two paragraphs that describe the scene which becomes a chapter. Other times, I’ve used mind mapping and diagrams with circles and arrows to plot out relationships between characters, their emotions, and motivations.

This week when I was editing the draft of the second book in the Star O’Brien mystery series, something happened that hadn’t been mind-mapped or decided upon ahead of writing: a new character showed up. Her name is Maeve Baldwin. She’s an older woman. She wears pearls. I like her. She has a minor appearance in this book but I suspect she’ll show up in one of the next books in the series.

In other exciting news, the book cover design phase for this second book kicks off tomorrow. I’ll be sharing updates in the next few weeks.

In the meanwhile, keep the love going,

Martha

What are you doing for the next hour?

“The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.”

William Wordsworth

That poem “The World is Too Much With Us” has been a favorite of mine since high school. I’ve muttered those first two lines to myself many times throughout my life. Always wondering if I’m following my heart…doing what feeds my soul.

This month is National Novel Writing Month (otherwise known as NaNoWriMo). Taking the advice of a writing colleague, Valerie Willis, I decided to signup this year. Now, the goal is to write 50,000 words in one month which sounds gargantuan until you do the math. It comes out to somewhere around 1600 words a day. For me that equates to about four hours a day which is an amount of time that I don’t usually have at my disposal. So….I’d decided that this wasn’t for me.

But then I received the NaNoWriMo kickoff email from Anne Lamott. She wrote a wonderful book about writing several years ago: Bird by Bird. Her email challenged everyone to put aside one hour a day to write. It can be any kind of writing, a journal, a blog, a novel, play, poetry…So, that’s my goal this month. At least an hour a day. Some days that might mean 200 words; other days it might just be 50.

But that hour is not a waste of my power. It gives me the perspective I need to care for the people in my life; to do the things that I am responsible for.

So, my question to you Dear Readers: What is it you want to do with an hour a day? What feeds your soul? What gives you power? Do it. Take an hour. And, let me know how it goes.

In the meanwhile, keep the love going,

Martha

Rainy Days

“But peace and quiet were the last things we were to have.”

Narrator in “The Moving Finger”

Raining here today in Florida-one of those peace and quiet days. It’s the kind of day I like because we’ll be indoors so there’s lots of time for writing. I’m working on the synopsis for Death at Ashford Castle. The cover design project kicks off on November 11 and the designer wants the synopsis as input to her work.

A rainy day on the walk around Loch Corrib, near Ashford Castle.

I also love rainy days because I get to catch up on reading. Today it’s Agatha Christie’s The Moving Finger. I love the Miss Marple novels. Although Star O’Brien is no Miss Marple, Star does get pulled into some murder cases.

What are some of your Miss Marple favorites? I’d love to hear from Star’s fans.

In the meanwhile, keep the love going.

Martha

The Mystery Genre ain’t Easy

“Ideas are easy. It’s the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats.”

Sue Grafton – Author of the Alphabet Series

I had the privilege of attending two writing workshops this weekend. On Saturday, Valerie Harris, (www.willisauthor.com) presented a two-hour workshop about how reader expectations of a genre drive things like writing style, story themes, cover design, and the overall look and feel of a book. Valerie’s presentation was amazing.

Then on Sunday, I was at the Citrus Crime Writers (a Florida Chapter of Sisters in Crime) meeting. I’m a member. Yea!! Today’s guest speaker was Luci Zahray, also known as “The Poison Lady”. What’s your poison? Strychnine? Arsenic? Let’s just put it this way….I wouldn’t want to eat anything Luci baked. (JUST kidding). But Bill was with me and he didn’t want the pumpkin zucchini bread I baked tonight. Oh my! Is it the zucchini or something else?

Here I am enjoying “The Poison Lady’s” Presentation

It was a fun weekend. All in pursuit of becoming the best mystery author for Star O’Brien’s fans. I’m thankful to everyone involved: Valerie, Luci, and the Citrus Crime Writers for sharing their love for writing and reading. I hope you all had a great weekend too.

Keep the love going,

Martha