Sunday, June 25, 2017

A Library Visit Close to Home--Exeter

Exeter Library, 230 East Chestnut, Exeter, CA. Tuesday, June 27, 6:30 p.m.

This library visit came about a totally different way. The librarian asked for local mystery writers--and of course I responded, as did my friend, Gloria Getman.

Something most interesting has come out of this--the library has a book club and they chose to read the first book in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series, Deadly Omen. I gave them the books, and the librarian told me to expect the book club members to ask questions about it. That should be fun.

The only problem I see is that I've written so many since I wrote that book--and I believe my writing has improved substantially. Hopefully, one or two will buy one of the later books that I'll bring with me.

I've always loved the cover, and it's all about an Indian Pow Wow. One of the Indians from our local reservation called me after he read it and told me I'd gotten all the Pow Wow stuff right. 


Friday, June 23, 2017

Sandra de Helen Gives Insights into Her Mystery Series

My mystery series featuring Shirley Combs and Dr. Mary Watson is set in modern day Portland, Oregon. Shirley and Mary met at an EST-like Forum in Seattle and became fast friends when Shirley declared her dream of becoming the world's best detective, and Mary introduced herself. Several years have passed, and they are now working together in a downtown office with a receptionist named Lix. When they go to the Portland Police Bureau to consult -- or to gain information -- they frequently bring along a pink box of Voodoo Donuts.

Readers are treated to the Pacific Northwest scenery, culture, and politics as they follow Shirley and Mary on yet another case. The first case to result in a novel  (The Hounding) involved the timber industry and the loss of old-growth forests. A rich heiress had declared she would use her money to save old growth, and she died a mysterious death. In the second book of the series (The Illustrious Client) the women are handed a case of a wealthy international pop star whose parents fear an older nouveau rich lesbian is taking advantage of her. Mary hopes for exciting international travel, but their trip to France is a brief one, followed by a complicated case of murder on the home front.

I'm currently writing A Valley of Fear, in which Shirley Combs meets Dr. Moriarty. But first, she falls down a well in a ghost town, where Mary has to rescue her.

Throughout their journey, Shirley Combs remains asexual, acerbic, and analytical. Their friendship evolves, as does Mary. Mary discovers to her surprise that she is a lesbian when she falls in love with her realtor in The Illustrious Client. They are engaged at the opening of A Valley of Fear. 

The books are peppered with characters all along the LGBTQQIA scale, as well as the usual number of cis gendered heterosexual folks. Sex is not the focus of the books, murder and mystery are. Some of my biggest fans are Sherlockians, who read everything Sherlock. I have been a Sherlock fan myself since I was about nine or ten years old. We had the Complete Sherlock Holmes in the house, and I read the stories and novels many times growing up. I love every Sherlock movie, television show, and hat I see. I have my own deerstalker and magnifying glass. I wish I had the coat, although as I now live in Southern California, I wouldn't get to wear it often.

I hope my readers enjoy the mystery as much as they do the references to the original Sherlock canon. Each book I write is descended from the original stories but is a story of its own.

Please leave your email address in the comments if you'd like a free copy of The Illustrious Client, and I'll send you a link to Book Funnel where you can pick it up.

More about The Illustrious Client:

Book Two of the Shirley Combs and Dr. Mary Watson series, The Illustrious
Client, shows us the private investigator and her sidekick sharing an office, and
introduces their receptionist, Lix. They are hired to influence a young international pop star, Oceane Charles, to pry her away from her older, richer, player of a girlfriend. The cast is made up of people with various ethnicities and backgrounds, and of course the job soon includes solving a murder mystery. Along the way, Mary discovers her latent lesbianism. Set in Portland, Oregon on a super yacht, in a hospital VIP room, at Rose Festival, and other fun places.

Sandra de Helen, author of the Shirley Combs/Dr. Mary Watson series and the lesbian thriller Till Darknes Comes is a produced playwright, as well as a poet. Her full-length play A Missouri Cycle garnered her a residency for fall of 2017 at Firefly Farms; her play A Grave Situation was produced in 2017 by Athena Cats as part of their theatre festival in Santa Monica. Something's Got to Give was produced in Oregon in 2015 as part of the 365 Women A Year Playwriting Project. Singer Clashes with Cougar was produced in New York in July, 2014 by{Your Name Here} A Queer Theatre Company. Her poetry chapbook All This Remains to be Discovered is available at Another Read Through Bookstore in Portland, Oregon or online. Samples of her work are available at her website,

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Making a Visit to the Paso Robles Library

This is my year for library visits. I have many lined up.

It all began with the Clovis Book Fair sponsored by the Book Barn and the Fresno Library. One of the librarians stopped by my table and asked if I'd like to speak at a library. I must've been the one most willing or exuberant, or who  knows why, but he emailed and asked me to go to several. I've already visited the first one.

Another library speaking engagement came through the Central Coast Sisters in Crime group of which I am a member. I love going over to the coast, so I quickly agreed to be a part of a panel speaking about Writing a Best Seller. We will each be talking about different phases of writing and my main topic will be setting. And yes, I'll have handouts.

I'll also touch on the fact that age has nothing whatsoever to do with writing.

My fellow panelists are Diann Adamson and Cora Ramos.

We will be at the Paso Robles Library, 1000 Spring St., Paso Robles on Saturday, June 24th from 11-1. 

If you live in the area, do drop by and see what we have to say.

I'll have my book, Not as it Seems, with me. It's set in the Central Coast area, Morro Bay and surroundings. I'll bring some of the other of the latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree books too. 

And I'll also have a couple of the Rocky Bluff P.D. series mysteries as they are also set on the coast.

Hope to see some familiar faces.


Monday, June 19, 2017


by Robert L. Bryan

My latest book, Dark Knights, weaves together twenty years of funny cop stories to chronicle my career from patrol officer to captain.  Writing this book was fairly easy because of the dearth of available material to pick from.  After all, there is nothing quite like a cop’s sense of humor – or is there?  

When I was almost finished with the book I let a non-cop friend read a chapter to get his feedback.  I know I am a bit biased, but I thought the chapter I gave him was hysterical.  I was somewhat stunned when he told me that he found the story disturbing and sadistic, but not the least bit funny  So  how does this dark, non-mainstream, gallows sense of humor develop?  Do police officers bring this anything goes propensity towards perverse humor with them to the job, or is it a byproduct of the job?  The answer lies in the emotional and psychological challenges of being a cop.

Being a police officer is akin to constantly riding an emotional roller coaster, involving moments of intense action followed by emotional crashes marked by exhaustion and isolation.  Cops see people at their worst, operating in the chaotic and depressing underbelly of society.  Domestic violence, drug overdoses, fatal car crashes, child abuse, and an assortment of other criminal activities are on a cop’s daily menu for consumption. The dangers cops perceive is not limited to public interactions.  

It is very common in police culture to develop negative feelings and attitudes towards the government and department hierarchy due to a perceived lack of support.  Furthermore, there can also be a perceived lack of support from the law abiding public, as well as a perceived media bias against police officers.  Even family cannot fully comprehend the daily grind, social isolation and stress involved with police work.   This atmosphere cultivates the “us vs. them” attitude present in much of the police culture.

To cope, cops put on emotional armor through the development of a cynical, dehumanizing and hard-edged sense of humor that is an attempt to insulate themselves from the pain and suffering being witnessed on a daily basis.  This attitude and sense of humor is not callous.  To the contrary – it is necessary.  Police officers have to resist their natural revulsion to what they see and must do. Empathy must be held back too, since it can divert too much energy from apprehending suspects and restoring order. Developing gallows humor helps in this process. Through exaggeration and irreverence, they break the connection between a terrifying stimulus and an unwanted emotional response.

These tactics work very well on the job.  There is ample empirical data that supports the physiological aspects of laughter as being an excellent stress reliever.  The delicate balancing act cops perform, however, is separating the job and personal life, and keeping the dark humor exclusively for the job.  This is no easy task, as the usage of dark humor becomes automatic and unconscious, causing problems in private life. 

Soon, nothing is sacred. No working street cop, detective, crime scene investigator or emergency worker can function effectively without denial, suppression and black humor. Unfortunately, what works so well on the job can adversely affect communications with loved ones. Emotional issues are commonplace in relationships. Hiding normal feelings means not recognizing them when they arise and not talking about them. Avoiding, dismissing or laughing them off on a consistent basis means that many important issues may go unresolved.

Robert L. Bryan is a law enforcement and security professional with over thirty-five years of experience.  Robert spent twenty years with the NYC Transit Police and NYPD, retiring at the rank of captain.  He worked a wide variety of patrol, administrative, and investigative assignments, including police academy instructor, narcotics division squad commander, and internal affairs bureau squad commander.  Prior to the NYPD, Robert began his career as a member of both the United States Coast Guard and the United States Border Patrol.  He is currently the chief security officer for NYC Transit’s division of revenue.  Dark Knights is Robert’s third non-fiction book.  C-Case, chronicles his two year assignment as a squad commander in the internal affairs bureau, and Conductor, traces the history of one of America’s most storied professions – the railroad conductor.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Am I the only Crime Writer out there Addicted to Spider Solitaire?

Am I the Only Crime Writer out There Addicted to Spider Solitaire?

I can sit at my desk with the current mystery I’m working on open in one screen, and all too easily switch screens, and say that I’m going to allow myself only one game. Then two. And so it goes. I’m addicted.

When I’m feeling generous to myself,  I call my obsession with Spider Solitaire a kind of thinking, plotting, planning, letting my mind run on idle while I think up the next brilliant twist in my new Santa Monica mystery.  But I know different. I’m addicted. Something about lining up the cards in an orderly row soothes me.

After all, it’s not as if I feel the world is breathless with anticipation for my next mystery.

My brain gets itchy and restless after I’ve focused down hard on writing. I’ve already twitched back and forth from my Facebook pages to Twitter to email just to see what’s going on. Like there’s ever anything going on with Twitter.

In an effort to limit my Spider Solitaire addiction, I placed a five minute timer on my desk, the old fashioned kind where sand runs through from one compartment to another. Of course, you have to set it to run. And remember to do it.

Yes, I know there is software which helps you limit the amount of time you spend on internet gambling, cybersex, video game addiction, and surfing for porn.  But I’m not that bad!

I tell myself Spider Solitaire is a procrastination tool. And so is Facebook and Twitter. I must have some modicum of self-discipline because I’ve stayed away from Pinterest and any other latest internet craze.

Anything to delay the agony of writing. Perhaps you’re familiar with that great yawning space on the page below your last good sentence?

While I’m trying to work the plot kinks out of my next crime fiction novel, I’ve written
5 10-20,000 word EBooks on the topic of “Writing Your First Mystery. They include Plotting, Editing, Creating Killer Characters, Finishing…and now “Writing Backstory in Your Mystery Fiction.”

I’m working on a first draft of two mysteries; one set in Santa Monica, one set in the tranquil village where I live in the mountains in Central California. I’m working on two at once because the theory was that when one got hard I could turn to the other. That’s what they say at least.

Guess what?  They’re both hard.

In the end, after three or four games, it all comes down to self-discipline, rooting myself in my chair, opening the document file and reading over the last horrible bit of stilted writing that lays there inert on the page. I poke at it for a while.

I know that if I dig through the mess long enough, something will catch fire. I will find myself inserting a comma. Then I’ll rearrange a sentence, and maybe the next paragraph isn’t that bad.

Oh! Something twitched in my brain. Ah, an idea. And sometimes off I go. If I can just drag my fingers back from Spider Solitaire.

I’ve written six mysteries now. I can do this again. It’s not hopeless.

See, what--despite my nasty little Spider Solitaire addiction--I’ve accomplished so far. Visit my page and check me out.

Thursday, June 15, 2017


Creating A Buzz (Building A Platform)

Branding yourself as an author—highlighting the types of books you write—can help you increase book sales. Create a campaign message and write a synopsis of your book tailored for marketing and PR activities in order to create buzz about your book.

Author Branding
Determine what distinguishes you as an author. Consider promoting yourself as an expert on a particular subject. For example, if you are a mystery writer, share information about police methods of a murder investigation or the science of forensics. Develop two or three speaking concepts that focus on a topic rather than just your book. Also, identify personal contacts who might refer you to potential speaking venues.

Book Launch
Start to execute your book marketing actions at least three to four months prior to publishing date. Determine the best day/time to have an in-person launch; consult bookstore owner. Invite people you know: friends and family, co-workers, the media, librarians and fellow authors to celebrate the launch. Consider offering an advance purchase discount.

Orchestrate online launch actions on Goodreads, Amazon, Personal Facebook and Facebook Author Fan Page (See “Social Media/Online Marketing” section.) Promote a mystery book to mystery book stores and mystery book reading groups.

Publicize all speaking/book-signing events through the media and on your website. Incorporate public-relations actions including media outreach. (See “Public Relations/Advertising” section.)

Send a book-launch announcement to your email list, including personal and professional connections. Ask your connections to forward the launch announcement to their contacts.

Utilize cross marketing, which can be very successful. For example, work together with other authors, particularly in your genre. This can be effective and cost saving.

Be consistent with your message and image and maintain a continued presence in front of your target audiences through the various actions and opportunities available to you as an author.

“Dying To Be Beautiful” Mystery Series Books 1-4 
Available at Amazon, B&N, and Independent BookStores

“The Senior Sleuths” 
(Dick and Dora Zimmerman with Zero the Bookie) Fall, 2017
M.Glenda Rosen 

Marcia Rosen
Award Winning “My Memoir Workbook”
“The Woman’s Business 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

My First Library Visit This Year

Saturday, June 17, at 11 a.m., I'll be visiting the Gillis Library, 629 W. Dakota, Fresno CA.

This is the first of a series of library visits.

If you come--and hope some of your will--this is what some of what might happen.

I'll introduce myself--hopefully I'll make some people laugh.

Next, I'll want to learn how many in the audience are writers, and who are strictly readers.

I'll tell about my two series--including about some of the books I brought with me.

And I'll answer any questions anyone has about me, my books, or writing.

The books I'll bring, will be the latest in both series, though I'll bring more of the Tempe books than the Rocky Bluff P.D. books.

No, I won't be doing a reading as I don't really like to do those--or listen to them either. One exception, I probably will read the best first line in any of my books.

If you are in the area, do come and visit me.

This month, I'll also be going over to Paso Robles for a group presentation at the library there, Saturday, June 24--11-1 p.m. More later.

And in my own neck of the woods, Tuesday June 27, I'll be at the Exeter Library with good friend, Gloria Getman, at 6:30 p.m. 

Hoping to see some familiar faces.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Finished the next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery---but not exactly.

Yes, it's done--but finished? No, there's a lot more to do.

First, my critique group needs to hear the whole thing and give me there feedback.

As with all my books, I need to start at the beginning and go through it, do some editing and rewriting.

I don't have a title yet--need to come up with something, maybe my critique group can help there too.

Once all that's done, I need to send it off to the publisher. It is very late, I usually have the latest Tempe Crabtree book sent off by this time--but a lot has happened to slow it down, and I must confess, I've slowed down too.

I could blame it on the fact that I keep taking on other jobs--I'm in the throes of judging a writing contest, and agreed to do another--I've done both of these for several years.

There's been lots of family activities too--and I enjoy those.

Anyway, I'll accept the blame and just get busy.


Friday, June 9, 2017

Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane

To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure how I feel about this book.

It's not promoted as a mystery or thriller--just a novel.

The first half is definitely that as it explores the psyche of a woman named Rachel, her mother, and the father whom she's never known--not even his identity.

Of course, the whole book is wonderfully written, literary, as are all Lehane's books. I was compelled to keep reading--though as I got into the second half--I read much faster. Because the whole story takes a turn around, becoming mysterious, sometimes outlandish, and definitely thrilling. There are so many twists and turns, at times it was hard to grasp.

However, I was terribly disappointed by the ending--unless of course, Lehane plans to write a sequel.

I read some of the reviews written by others on Amazon--most readers gave it five stars, some only one or two. 

As for the writing, I'd give it five stars, for the complete story, I'm not sure.

I'd love to hear from other readers and see how they felt about Since We Fell.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Introducing My Literary Twin

While imagining the protagonist of the Gilda Greco Mystery Series, I realized she could be my literary twin. In fact, I like to tell people that Gilda is 70 percent of me. As to how I came up with that particular number, let’s just say my well-honed left brain did all the work while vivid images and plot twists floated through my right brain.

Here are some similarities:

1.      Born and raised in Sudbury, Ontario, Gilda and I lived in the Italian section of town.

2.      We love to read and could spend hours curled up with our favorite books. We have a special fondness for cozy mysteries.

3.      In school, we were high-achieving, happy nerds who majored in mathematics and then decided to pursue teaching careers.

4.      In spite of our mathematical knowledge of probability, we buy lottery tickets. Gilda hit the jackpot and won $19 million in Lotto 649. As for me, I’m still buying tickets and hoping! BTW...the probability of winning Lotto 649 is 1 in 13,983,816.

5.      We spent the early years of our teaching careers in Sudbury and later relocated to Guelph in Southern Ontario.

6.      We practice Hatha Yoga and enjoy attending holistic fairs.

7.      We completed the Career Development Practitioner program at Conestoga College. I had hoped to pursue a second career as a career counselor but personal and health circumstances intervened. Instead, I am living vicariously through Gilda who has set up her own ReCareering office in Sudbury.

8.      We love our zebra colors. Black pantsuits are staples in our wardrobes.

9.      We are non-foodies. That’s right, we don’t like to cook or bake. But we have an appreciation for all foodies who possess that special gift.

1   We have a special fondness for Greek food. But only Gilda has the financial resources to launch Xenia, the Greek restaurant featured in Too Many Women in the Room.

When Gilda Greco invites her closest friends to a VIP dinner, she plans to share David Korba’s signature dishes and launch their joint venture— Xenia, an innovative Greek restaurant near Sudbury, Ontario. Unknown to Gilda, David has also invited Michael Taylor, a lecherous photographer who has throughout the past three decades managed to annoy all the women in the room. One woman follows Michael to a deserted field for his midnight run and stabs him in the jugular.

Gilda’s life is awash with complications as she wrestles with a certain detective’s commitment issues and growing doubts about her risky investment in Xenia. Frustrated, Gilda launches her own investigation and uncovers decades-old secrets and resentments that have festered until they explode into untimely death. Can Gilda outwit a killer bent on killing again?

“I’m a nobody here,” David said, glancing down at his plate. “And with my credit rating, none of the banks would endorse a loan. I’m screwed.”

“What if I backed you?” I couldn’t believe I was speaking so casually, all the while my heart beat at an alarming rate.

David rubbed a hand over his chin and flashed a grin at me. “Gilda, darling, you’re sweet to offer, but I don’t think you know what’s involved here.”

Susan nodded in agreement.

Were they playing me, I wondered. Since winning nineteen million dollars in Lotto649, I had encountered many sharks who hoped to prey on my easy-going nature. A quick Google search would have revealed my three-year-old lottery win. Old news, but still there on the second and third pages.

“Would one hundred thousand dollars be enough?” I asked. “In case you don’t know, I won a major lottery several years ago.” Since winning, I had received many proposals from across the province and had backed three local ventures. In each case, I had chosen to remain a silent partner.

David’s right hand trembled as he poured himself another glass of wine. Susan’s mouth dropped open, and she gave a little gasp.

“I take it that’s a yes,” I said.

More mild protests followed, and another bottle of wine disappeared. We were all a bit tipsy when we shook on the agreement. And so Xenia was born. 

Book Trailer
Buy Links

Amazon (US):
Amazon (Canada):
The Wild Rose Press:
Barnes & Noble:

In 2008, Joanne took advantage of early retirement from a 31-year teaching career and decided to launch a second act that would tap into her creative side and utilize her well-honed organizational skills. Slowly, a writing practice emerged. Her articles and book reviews were published in newspapers, magazines, and online. When she tried her hand at fiction, she made reinvention a recurring theme in her novels and short stories. A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes cozy mysteries, paranormal romance, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.

Where to find Joanne...


Click on the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Oh, My Nothing Like Great Grands Graduation to Make you Feel Old

We've had three big graduations this year-- and they are our great-grandchildren.
Olivia Van Scoy graduated from high school in Temecula. In the photo she's with her cousins, Peyton, her aunt Genie (granddaughter) and Garrett. She is my oldest grandson's daughter.

Of course they are both great-grands and moving through school and life far too quickly.

The second graduation was from our great-granddaughter, Kay'Lee Meredith who graduated from 8th grade. She also gave the final speech. Kay'Lee is our youngest son's oldest granddaughter. She is in the blue dress in the front of the group photo--and that's everyone who came to the graduation, both sides of the family.

And the third is Ethan Van Scoy, Olivia's little (only because he's younger than she, take a look at their photo below) brother also from the 8th grad.

My, oh, my. And as the grow, we've had new great-grands and great-grands added to our family too.

 'The graduate, Olivia, with my other great grands and their mom, granddaughter, Genie.
Peyton, Olivia, Genie and Garrett. Love them!'

Friday, June 2, 2017

What I Do for Fun

Anyone who follows me on Facebook knows what I do most of the time:

Work on projects for others
Put out two newsletters for organizations I belong to.
Write my own newsletter
Promoting my books whether on line or in person.
Teach Sunday School and go to church
Grocery shop and cook dinner (almost every p.m.)

Though a lot of that is fun for me, I know it doesn't sound like fun to others. 

Reading--I don't get to do enough of it anymore.

My two great-granddaughters who share our home (with their parents) keep me entertained. They always want to know what I'm doing, and sometimes play school in my office--when I'm working here.

Spending time with my big family--just visiting, birthdays, traveling to where some of the far away ones live.

Going to an occasional movie with my hubby--or just sneaking away with him to have lunch, usually at the Thai Kitchen.

Eating out anytime--meaning I don't have to cook.

Going to the PSWA conference--coming up next month. I used to attend as many mystery and writing conferences and conventions I could afford in a year--but I don't fly anymore nor have the budget to do that. 

Attending Sisters in Crime meetings

Hubby and I watch a lot of movies and TV series together on our Roku. Something we can enjoy together.

Not the most exciting life--much tamer than when we were young.

What is your favorite fun thing to do?


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Moving into June

Can you believe it? This is the last day of May!

This was a busy, busy month, and the next one promises to be even busier. Though I have two weeks where it looks like I can concentrate on my writing, I have three library presentations.

The first one is not until the 17th, 11 a.m. at the Gillis Library in Fresno.

On the 24th, I'll be on a panel about Best Sellers at the Paso Robles Library at 11 a.m. (In Paso Robles--a long way to go, but I need my Central Coast fix. I lived close to the Pacific Ocean for over 20 years, now I'm in the foothills of the Sierra and I love it here--but I do miss the coast.

The last public appearance of the month will be at the Exeter Library at 6:30 where I'll be speaking with Gloria Getman about our mysteries. That library's book club is reading the first in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series, Deadly Omen. I was told to be prepared for questions so that ought to be a fun visit.

I love speaking at libraries--you never know what kind of crowd you'll have, but usually the folks are people who love books and that's what counts.

If you will be in any of these places in June, I'd love to see you.


Monday, May 29, 2017

Reunion by Carl Brookins, a review

How many of us have had mixed emotions about attending our high school class reunions? What if you went against your better judgment and during the first event one of your old classmates was found murdered?

That’s what happens in Carl Brookins Reunion. Lori Jacobs receives an invitation to her high school reunion and convinces here significant other, Jack Marston to accompany her on this visit to her hometown of Riverview. Like with many reunions, Lori is warmly welcomed back by some with others not quite as friendly.

After the body of one of Lori’s classmates is discovered during the first event of the reunion, the local law enforcement recruits Jack to help out with the investigation since he’d once served as an investigator in the Navy. Neither Jack nor Lori were enthusiastic about his recruitment. And the more involved they became it was soon obvious the town’s people weren’t happy about it either.

Inevitably, the more Jack and Lori learned, they realized that along with other class members, they were now in danger too. The small town of Riverdale has an undercurrent of secrets, lies, dirty dealings.

Reunion has plenty of actions, plot twists and surprises to keep the reader turning pages. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I’ve read and enjoyed other books by Brookins and this is one of my favorites.

(Before he became a mystery writer, Carl Brookins was a counselor and faculty member at Metropolitan State University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He and his wife are recreational sailors.  He also write the sailing adventure series featuring Michael Tanner and Mary Whitney,Old Silver, and a private investigator series featuring Sean Sean, a short P.I.,The Case of the Greed Lawyers.

When I still attended mystery cons and in particular, Mayhem in the Midlands, I ran into Carl quite often. He was articulate on panels and a generous conversationalist.)

Marilyn Meredith

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Intriguing Thoughts from John Beyer

I enjoy reading quotations from famous people -- other writers in particular -- and someday I would enjoy people quoting me or one of the characters from my stories. Perhaps they do already and I do not know about it – wouldn’t that be a hoot and a half?

But here’s one of my favorites from Somerset Maugham: “If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write.”

For a writer, that could not be plainer. Write on a napkin. Write on a wall. Use a pencil or pen. Perhaps just strike the old typewriter keys daily or punch the keyboard an hour every other day. The bottom line is that you just need to write – that is if you are a writer and if not then you must read what the writer writes.

That was a plug for all writers out there – we write so others will read.

Again with a quotation. This time one of my favorite authors, Ernest Hemingway: “When writing a novel, a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.”

Now this is where I get in trouble. I’m currently working on my fourth novel, (the other three were released by Black Opal Books over the past few years), but my ‘people’ are not doing what they are supposed to be doing. I am not insane and invisible entities do not talk to me while I write or go about my daily life chores but the people in my novels do what they do. Yes, there is an overall theme I am working on when sitting behind my desk in my office but the letter after letter minutiae is up to those I am including on the pages.

My spouse, lovely Laureen, thinks I’m nuts. She happens to have a Ph.D. in Brain Research and perhaps she knows something I don’t but then again, I have Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. My degree negates hers, or at least I’d like to believe that is the case whenever my wife disagrees with me. I’m certain every husband understands this struggle.

Okay, my characters – sorry, Ernest – my people move about the pages of my writing like nymphs in the forest. Darting here and there and sometimes I will actually stop the movement of my fingers on the keyboard and wonder what the hell is going on.

Jonas Peters – one of two of my main protagonists – ends up in Peru and threatens an admiral of the Peruvian Navy. That wasn’t in the plans at the beginning of my latest novel but it’s there now. Frank Sanders – the other protagonist – ends up killing a couple of bad guys one dark and not-so-stormy night. Again, wasn’t in the plans but it’s there now.

The point of this that is sometimes writing just happens and however it works is fine. Characters are not real but may feel that way when you spend months upon months creating the lives they lead, the pain they experience along with the occasional joys bestowed on them.

Maugham was correct – as long as you write with sincerity and passion you cannot go wrong. Writing comes from the heart or should. That will be evident with your readers.

Hemingway was also correct – your ‘characters’ must be real people and not just fictional creatures. One dimension does not work for the mind and should not for any sort of writing. Readers must believe that person they view on a page in a novel should be someone they could recognize on a street corner.

One day, while Laureen was waiting for a plane in Dallas she called and said: “Yuri is in the airport. He’s here.”

Yuri is a fictional person from my novel – Soft Target. She saw him sitting at a bar.

I just smiled and told her to have a safe flight.

Characters can be real – not just for the writer.

Just saying.

John Beyer Bio:

Former street cop, training officer and member of SWAT John Beyer has been writing most of his life. He’s traveled to at least 23 countries (and was actually shot in the head in Spain in 2000 during a march between Neo Nazis and Communists two days after running with the bulls in Pamplona). He was caught in a hurricane off the coast of east Baja (Bahia de los Angeles) while kayaking and lived to tell about it. Essentially, it’s hard to tell where experience leaves off and fiction takes over. You’ll want to read his books.

Twitter: @Drjohnrbeyer
Operation Scorpion buy link: