Six. The number of times Tatum tells Gypsy that his father didn’t kill himself, in the first chapter. Not that Gypsy was counting.
1) I didn’t care if the kid lived with a tribe of pygmies. I had my own problems.
2) Johnnie Walker. Black. I’m a picky drinker.
3) Hail Mary, full of grace…blah blah blah…Jesus Christ, why couldn’t I remember that simple prayer?
4) I stared at the number scribbled in the palm of my hand, thinking of a thousand reasons not to call. And a thousand and one why I should.
5) I wasn’t used to looking like a geek.
6) Not that I could do anything with my hands still cuffed behind my back; it was the psychology of knowing what was coming.
7) There were so many bells and whistles, I didn’t know if I was having an orgasm or if I’d won the grand prize at the county fair.
I sat down on the edge of the bed wondering how I was going to explain this. The less she knew, the better. For her own sake. “I needed to get out of town for a little while.”
Her shoulders dropped and she blew a deep breath. “Oh God, Gypsy. What did you do?” She plopped down beside me on the bed.
“Nothing illegal. You’re not harboring a fugitive or anything so you don’t have to worry about that.”
“About that? What do I need to worry about?”
I looked at her for a moment, then stared at the boxes that held my life. “I’d never put you in the line of fire. You should know that. I’m the big brother, remember?”
“So, in other words, you can’t tell me why you’re here, who you’re obviously running from, or why they won’t track you down to my house. Great, just freaking great.” She leapt up and started out of the room.
“Rhonda—just trust me on this, okay? I’ll tell you the whole sordid story when the time’s right.”
She stood in the doorway with her back to me and slowly nodded. “You keep way too many secrets, Gypsy.”
9 days. 9 characters you’ll come to know:
1) Private Investigator Michael “Gypsy” Moran
2) Tatum McCallen – Gypsy’s pain in the butt sidekick
3) Burke McCallen – Gypsy’s pain in the butt sidekick’s grandfather
4) Rhonda Walker – Gypsy’s younger sister
5) Rodney Walker – Gypsy’s brother-in-law
6) Angie Moran – Gypsy’s mom
7) Gram – Gypsy’s pain in the butt grandmother
8) Sophia Ortez – smokin’ hot reporter
9) Claire Kinley – Gypsy’s pain in the butt old flame
I’ve recently discovered I’m a contradiction. I’d do good in a Coen Brothers movie because I can go from laughing my head off at the dark and twisted to awwww’ing over something cute and cuddly.
The contradiction really shows in my Twitter and Facebook posts.
See, there’s this thing we writers are supposed to do to advance our careers and gain new readers. We’re supposed to build a platform. A platform is the method(s) a writer uses to get their name in front of agents, publishers, and most importantly, readers. Social media has made building a platform much easier than years past. But still, it takes time, patience, and effort to not only get your name out there but to grow and nurture these relationships you’re building. One step at a time. A platform is ever-evolving. The more you grow as a writer, the more your platform grows.
A brand, on the other hand, is just what it implies. Unless there’s been a big mistake by a delivery driver, you’re not going to find a Coke in a Pepsi cooler. Thus, you’re probably not going to find a Stephen King novel in the romance section. A lot of writers do cross genres and many use pen names so loyal readers of one genre don’t rebel when they pick up a Sci-Fi/Fantasy when they were expecting a mystery.
So, where am I in all this? I’m still building my platform—as I said earlier, it’s an on-going thing. And the brand as a mystery writer is falling into place as I’m establishing relationships with other writers and readers. And here’s where the contradiction is coming in.
I post a lot on Twitter about crime, for a few different reasons. 1) The psychology behind it interests me, 2) as a research tool or plot idea generator for other crime writers, 3) some of it is straight out of a Coen Brothers movie and I just adore them.
But I also post a lot about dogs. I’m a dog lover. And I post a lot about the trials and tribulations of parenting and they’re often funny. My own kids didn’t have one or two kids, they had litters. And as the Granny Nanny to eight of them, I have an over abundance of toddler-related material ready at the whim.
So how can I follow up a too-funny tweet of a picture of Casey with a goofy hat on with a tweet about a horrific murder with all kinds of twists and turns. Beats me. I’m just as confused as you are.
Maybe my brand should be a dog loving, toddler fan, mystery writer?
On paper of course. In fiction. Like in a murder-mystery. Now that we’ve got that cleared up.
Crime shows like Castle, Bones, Blue Bloods, Southland, Hill Street Blues, and the list goes on and on…make up a good portion of most watched television. Why? Because they’re entertaining. Some aren’t entirely believable, but they are fun to watch. gmom is amazing and i love her very much – HA! – editorial comment inserted by granddaughter Ava. Back to the story…mystery writers love crime/detective/police procedural shows and that’s great. As long as you’re just watching to enjoy and not using them for your research. If you are, it’s a lazy way of writing. Stop doing it right now.
There are way too many resources available to help with your research for you to write your mystery using a television show as a guide. Because most of the shows on television get it wrong. Sometimes with cringe-worthy results.
Many moons ago when I first turned in a manuscript for critique, I was scolded for having a flower bloom at the wrong time in the wrong place. The critique partner wasn’t being picky—she was being thorough. I was being lazy and picked some random flower that didn’t even grow in my settling. I lost a little bit of my butt and a lot of my credibility.
And as writers, we know what happens when a you lose credibility with a reader. They put the book down and will hesitate, if not refuse to, read your next one.
Learn the difference between a revolver and semi-automatic. Learn the dynamics of what happens to a person when shot—no, they aren’t blown backwards like you’ve seen a thousand times on television. They drop straight to the ground. Learn terminology. Learn the legal system—no, you don’t have to study law but knowing when a warrant is needed and when it’s not is a good thing.
Two of my favorite resources are Crime Scene Writer Yahoo Group and the Writers Police Academy. The Crime Scene group is populated by experts in many fields and they’re more than willing to help with your questions. No matter how odd. Trust me.
And as a side note, I’ll be presenting a program for my Sisters in Crime/Murder We Write chapter on writing crime fiction and getting “it” right Sunday, Nov. 17 from 2-4pm at the High Point Public Library. I’ll be discussing some of the resources available to help you get it right.
Authors Joyce and Jim Lavene are living proof you can have your pie and eat it, too. Writing as Ellie Grant, they’ve just released their cozy mystery, Plum Deadly, to great reviews. The multi-published Lavenes are meeting the challenges of the fast changing publishing world head on by mixing it up. A little bit of traditional and a little bit of indie, read on to find out their thoughts on the whole process. Then read on a little bit more and meet Ellie Grant and Plum Deadly.
By Joyce and Jim Lavene
When our first book, a Silhouette Romance, was published in 1999, there was this little known publishing change going on. People called them ebooks. There were a few ebook publishing companies struggling to make a living. Mostly, writers and readers ignored them.
When we first heard about ebooks, we were thrilled. The possibilities were endless! We looked around for a reputable publisher, and found Awe-Struck Books. It was run by a brother and sister in Iowa. We talked and hit it off. They liked the book we’d written, which had been rejected by several traditional publishing houses. We thought: why not?
So we published Flowers in the Night with Awe-Struck. At that time, Romance Writers of America was accepting ebook authors into the fold. The world seemed poised and waiting for the new medium. Flowers in the Night was nominated for the Frankfurt Book Award that year, and sold very well. We were thrilled.
Then complications came up. The only ebook reader was expensive – more than $200, clumsy and heavy. No one wanted it. At the same time, the tech crash of 2000 changed the landscape of advertising for small businesses on the Internet. The money pool vanished, and the enthusiasm for online publishing went with it. Romance and mystery writing professional groups decided that ebooks were a fad and that the writing wasn’t professional enough for their standards.
It looked as though ebooks were doomed. Still, a spark remained, and a few publishers hung in there. The ‘fad’ continued until a little company, Amazon Books, began to show writers and readers that there was still life in that idea.
Today, ebooks are where we saw their potential in 1999. They are big business for Amazon and other companies. Even traditional publishers are now pushing their own lines that are just ebooks.
And yet, a fan of ours asked just the other day; “Are you going to publish that book as a REAL book, or just an ebook?”
Perceptions are slow to change, and the recent glut of ebooks on the market which haven’t been edited, hasn’t helped. Readers have become wary. Some have shied away. Unedited ebooks have also made the big, professional writing groups stand their ground on keeping non-print published writers out of their hallowed halls and conferences.
Only time will tell if the ebook market continues to grow or if they are just the fad they were predicted to be.
We have enjoyed being what has become known as ‘hybrid’ authors – publishing books with traditional houses and writing ebooks we publish ourselves. Ebooks have spread our name to tiny corners of the earth and have afforded us a more comfortable lifestyle so that we can write fiction full-time now.
All in all, everything we had imagined they would be. Not a bad for a fad, huh?
And now a quick look at
Unjustly accused of cooking the books, Maggie Grady is forced to retreat from her high-flying New York financial career to the town where she grew up. Her aunt Clara greets her with open arms and a job at the family-owned business that has baked the best pies in the South for over forty years. Unfortunately, while Maggie is determined to return to banking, her reputation there seems permanently in the pits. That is, until her old boss, Lou, visits with news that he’s found the real crook. Before he can reveal the details, though, Maggie finds his body right behind the pie shop.
With only her own word that Lou planned to exonerate her, Maggie is in the spotlight. The police seem to suspect that Aunt Clara’s damson pie may not be just dangerously delectable, but downright deadly. Maggie doesn’t just have her own name to clear; she has to make sure that her aunt’s beloved business isn’t harmed, either. Yummy local reporter Ryan Summerour appears eager to help, and Maggie can’t help hoping that it’s not just the police who find her a person of interest—but Ryan, as well. She’d thought it challenging to make the perfect pie crust that Aunt Clara demands, but that turns out to be nothing compared with finding a murderer. . .
Ellie Grant writes award-winning, bestselling mystery fiction as themselves, J.J. Cook and Joyce and Jim Lavene. They have written and published more than 60 novels for Harlequin, Berkley, Amazon and Gallery Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. They live in rural North Carolina with their family. Visit them at Ellie’s website