Sheltering in Place – Day 72

Okay, so you want to write a novel. You’re excited, filled with energy, hope, and something to say. You can’t wait to start the process, do the research, meet the characters, and create a spiffy plot, all that good stuff. If you’re a mystery writer like me, you pretty much know what the ending is going to be, but the ‘how’ of getting there! It’s elixir for the soul. In the beginning, you’re open to all the possibilities that will spur you on during the forthcoming, never-ending months. Writing a novel – at least at the start of it – is a wonderful adventure. Just you, your ideas, a computer, and buckets of strong coffee. But at some point in the process, trying to reach eighty-five thousand words with what you often suspect is pure, unadulterated drivel is another matter. You become bogged down, overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. You discover you need more than just a fire in the belly (which could also be labeled as heartburn). For me, that’s the place where ‘talent’ and ‘craft’ need to cohabitate. The craft of writing is a practiced art, much like learning to play tennis. The more you practice, the better you get. You also need the tools that make the process more doable. Where would tennis be without a racket? So I’ve learned – and continue to learn – certain tricks to help me get through the arduous parts of completing a novel. I’m in the throes of writing my 14th novel, Casting Call for a Corpse, Book Seven of The Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, so I’d better have learned a thing or two. Some things could be called obvious, but often the obvious gets overlooked along the way. Better to repeat them endlessly than lose sight of them. Here’s a few of…

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Sheltering in Place – Day 68

I am a crazy writer. I admit it freely. Even though I try to write every day, I got thrown off my stride by the silliness of trying to write a romance novel, which was a kiss of death for me. I fell behind on my self-imposed deadlines and have yet to catch up. Christmas Trifle was the culprit. Once I turned it into a romantic suspense novel it came out all right, but it took me 18-months to do it. I used to pride myself on turning out a new book every year or so. I’m still trying to catch up. It’s been 2 years since my last Alvarez book, and my fans, the ones who are still with me, are chomping at the bit for me to finish the new book in the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries. Okay, maybe not quite chomping at the bit. But one or two have inquired about it. This series is my bread and butter. So I am breaking my neck to get Casting Call for a Corpse finished. Frankly, writing a novel is hard. I keep expecting each one to get a little easier. After all, this is my 14th some such endeavor. But they are never easy. Let’s face it, eating is easy. Writing is hard. Furthermore, I promised myself a deadline of June 1st to get it to the editor. I am writing frantically trying to live up to that. Every waking moment I can, I devote myself to this stupid book. I have neglected my friends, my cat, my hubby. Hubby has even taken up the slack in the housework department (the one bright spot in all of this). And still, I don’t know if I am going to meet this self-imposed deadline. I could just let it go.…

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Sheltering in Place – Day 44

Today I started the final chapter of the latest Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, Casting Call For a Corpse. This novel has taken a really long time, probably close to 18-months. It’s not any more complicated than the others, but I’ve been a little busy, what with one thing and another. Let’s face it, just trying to decontaminate groceries from the possible contamination of COVID19 takes me awhile. I keep forgetting what I did and when I did it. That means I have to start all over again. But back to my books.  I can’t say I crank them out, anyway. It usually takes 10 to 12 months to finish one to my liking. Then I turn it over to my content editor and friend, Baird Nuckolls, and then the line editor, Paula.Grundy. That’s another month or two in the hopper. When writing, I often hang myself up on research and details. Take today. The protagonist and her husband are flying to Paris to celebrate their 6-month wedding anniversary. Sounds romantic and glamorous, right? Truth be told, it didn’t take long to check out nonstop flights, how long it takes to get from San Francisco to Paris, the time difference, and stuff like that. But I needed to know what time they had to leave Calfornia in order to get to Paris to make their 8 o’clock dinner reservation the following evening. I just couldn’t get it. It’s an 11-hour flight with a 9-hour time change. My math skills, which are challenged to begin with, couldn’t get what time they arrived in Paris. After about 20-minutes, I gave up and dashed into hubby’s office for a little help. Well, by counting his fingers and my toes we worked it out. They leave San Francisco at 8:50 pm (that’s a real flight…

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“Sheltering In Place” – Day 1

So here I am with a Type A Personality husband being told we are to Shelter In Place for the next three weeks to help prevent the spread of CV19. In some ways, it has been made easier by the fact that almost every place near and dear to hubby’s heart has been told to close, as well. There’s something about a fait accompli that sort of settles things. And as a musician, he has seen his gigs canceled right and left for a couple of weeks now. Even his gigs at senior and assisted living homes, which he worked hard to acquire, have been put on hold. So he has nothing to do but wait this out. As for me, I am a writer. This hasn’t touched me in the ways it touches many people. I live in my mind. Right now, my latest book, Casting Call for a Corpse, Book seven of the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, is nearing the denouement. I am busy, busy, busy dealing with a burning building, rescuing people, cats, and capturing the villains. Naturally, because I write cozies, all’s well that ends well. But still, it’s pretty dramatic stuff. So I am busy and happy. But let’s get back to the Type A Personality husband. First of all, he enjoys living life. He likes eating out, going to plays, walking busy, lively neighborhoods, things like that. Not happening. He’s stuck with me, Ellie the Cat, and Netflix.  As husband and wife, and best friends, we have become tethered inmates. On Day 1 I got the brilliant idea we should learn how to play Contract Bridge online during our incarceration. He was enthusiastic, so we sat down to watch a Youtube lesson. The lesson lasted for, and I timed it, four minutes. Then he…

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History of Slavery in California

I am doing research for my latest book, Casting Call for a Corpse, Book 7 of the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, and came across a very interesting article in Wikipedia about slavery in California which led to yet another article, Uncovering California’s overlooked slave past, updated 2/16/2004 6:21:25 PM ET by Deborah Kong for NBC during Black History month.  As the article doesn’t always respond to the link, it is below in its entirety. In the picture above, Mary Ann Carlton-Wyatt shows pages from her family Bible, dating to the late 1800s, to Joe Moore at the campus library of California State University in Sacramento. Before I go any further, let me say I love living in California. I love the lifestyle and the people. However, I was born and raised in the south and, YES, Florida is part of the south. I’ve lived in Manhattan for a time and traveled somewhat. This has given me an appreciation of all the states. I am including Wyoming, which I cannot personally say exists because I’ve never been there nor met anyone from Wyoming. Yoo-hoo! Are you there? Raise your hand. I would love to meet you! Anyway, back to California. While the Golden State is wonderful, there are a few things about it I don’t like: 1 – A lot of people drive like they are the only person on the road. That can be dangerous and annoying. 2 – there is a snobbery with some that Californians were and are above such horrors as prejudice (Internment of the Japanese during WWII is often glossed over, for instance). So imagine my surprise when I came across these articles on the existence of slavery in California, which not only included the indigenous population, but Chinese, African, and African-Americans. Does it bring California down…

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