Rocky Mountain Writer #49

Jennifer K 3Jennifer Kincheloe & The Secret Life of Anna Blanc

Last week, Jennifer Kincheloe found out that her first mystery, The Secret Life of Anna Blanc was nominated for a Macavity award in the historical category—one of the top prizes in the mystery writing field.

Just a few years ago, that same novel was a winner in the annual Colorado Gold contest for unpublished novelists. .

This time on the podcast, Jennifer talks about her path to publication and how she goes about researching her books, set in the early 1900’s in Los Angeles and southern California. She also talks about how she developed the Anna Blanc character and her interesting approach to social media.

This podcast includes a recording of Jennifer reading a selection from The Secret Life of Anna Blanc.

Jennifer holds a Masters degree in Public Health from Loma Linda University and a PhD in Health Services from UCLA. She spent 11 years conducting research to inform health policy.

She is a member of RMFW, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime and other groups.

She lives in Denver with her husband and two children.

Jennifer Kincheloe

Seventh Street Books

 

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For suggestions about content or to comment on the show, email Mark Stevens. Also feel free to leave a comment about the podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast provider.

Host Mark Stevens: http://www.writermarkstevens.com

Rocky Mountain Writer #48

Lisa AdamsLisa Adams - Nuts & Bolts of Tax Law (For Writers)

The guest is writer and attorney Lisa Adams, who is giving a master class at Colorado Gold conference in September called Avoiding Real Life Drama, The Nuts & Bolts of Tax Law.

Lisa Adams is an Arizona-based attorney. Her expertise is in federal tax law, federal Indian law, criminal law and procedure, and complex business transactions. She is also the author of Bound Justice.

As a writer, do you know the basics of what counts as income or how to track expenses? If you’re going the indy route, do you draw up contracts when you hire a graphic artist or an editor? Do you think you should?

Lisa’s got some great advice—and experience.
 

 

Lisa Adams
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For suggestions about content or to comment on the show, email Mark Stevens. Also feel free to leave a comment about the podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast provider.

Host Mark Stevens: http://www.writermarkstevens.com

Backstory Feeds Frontstory

Whack me upside the head – go ahead.

I was putting together a presentation recently for a workshop about writing mysteries and I wanted to make the point that the variety of ideas for mysteries—setting, characters, plots and themes—is endless.

I thought it might be insightful and instructive (maybe even interesting) to look at recent Edgar Award Winners.

So I made up a nifty PowerPoint slide for three books and included, verbatim, the description of each story.

JuneBlog2016LouBerneyThe first was Lou Berney’s The Long and Far Away Gone, winner of the Edgar Award for best paperback original.

(What a great title.)

Summary: In the summer of 1986, two tragedies rocked Oklahoma City. Six movie-theater employees were killed in an armed robbery, while one inexplicably survived. Then, a teenage girl vanished from the annual State Fair. Neither crime was ever solved. Twenty-five years later, the reverberations of those unsolved cases quietly echo through survivors’ lives. A private investigator in Vegas, Wyatt’s latest inquiry takes him back to a past he’s tried to escape—and drags him deeper into the harrowing mystery of the movie house robbery that left six of his friends dead.

 

JuneBlog2016LoriRoyThe second was for Lori Roy’s Let Me Dies in His Footsteps, winner of the Edgar Award for best novel. (Best novel!)

Summary: On a dark Kentucky night in 1952 exactly halfway between her fifteenth and sixteenth birthdays, Annie Holleran crosses into forbidden territory. Everyone knows Hollerans don’t go near Baines, not since Joseph Carl was buried two decades before, but, armed with a silver-handled flashlight, Annie runs through her family’s lavender fields toward the well on the Baines’ place. At the stroke of midnight, she gazes into the water in search of her future. Not finding what she had hoped for, she turns from the well and when the body she sees there in the moonlight is discovered come morning, Annie will have much to explain and a past to account for.

 

JuneBlog2016LoriRaderDayThe third was Lori Rader-Day’s Little Pretty Things, winner of the Mary Higgins Clark Award. (Love this title, too.)

Juliet Townsend is used to losing. Back in high school, she lost every track team race to her best friend, Madeleine Bell. Ten years later, she’s still running behind, stuck in a dead-end job cleaning rooms at the Mid-Night Inn, a one-star motel that attracts only the cheap or the desperate. But what life won’t provide, Juliet takes. Then one night, Maddy checks in. Well-dressed, flashing a huge diamond ring, and as beautiful as ever, Maddy has it all. By the next morning, though, Juliet is no longer jealous of Maddy—she’s the chief suspect in her murder. To protect herself, Juliet investigates the circumstances of her friend’s death. But what she learns about Maddy’s life might cost Juliet everything she didn’t realize she had.

I haven’t read any of these books—but I want to read them all!

Right?

In putting together the presentation, it was easy to spot the fuel for each fire.

Berney: Twenty-five years later…

Roy: Two decades before…

Rader-Day: Back in high school…

I know it’s obvious.

It’s a simple point.

But characters are nothing if not for their backstory.

Brighton - Michael HarveyCharacters don’t walk onto the page without having been bruised or beaten or worse. They have had a life.

If your character’s past is dull, gray, bland, flat, flavorless, vanilla, and drama-free, you may not have a character. Or much of a story.  Sure, it’s what happened to your character but it’s also how your character responded to those key moments. That’s where character—and your story—is forged.

Now I see backstory everywhere I look. “Happy Valley”—the best Netflix thing I’ve seen in a long, long time. The writers backed up a dump truck full of backstory and piled it on West Yorkshire sergeant Catherine Cawood. (The "happy" in Happy Valley isn't so happy.) And I just read a taut novel called Brighton, by Michael Harvey, and backstory drives “front” story like a seamless Mobius strip of tension and action.

As I said, an obvious point.

But if you’re struggling with a plot or the “now,” you might take a look at the past.

Rocky Mountain Writer #47

Heather Webb
Heather Webb

Heather Webb - Nailing an Agent-Grabbing Opening  

 

Writer Heather Webb stops by the podcast to give a sneak peek of the four-hour master class she'll be giving at Colorado Gold, RMFW's big three-day conference in September.

Her class is called Nailing an Agent-Grabbing Opening and it will give participants a chance to learn what makes an opening grabby, or trite, and how to win an agent's eye.

Heather also catches us up on all her projects, including a short story collection she spearheaded that was recently reviewed in the New York Times.

Heather Webb’s novels Becoming Josephine and Rodin's Lover are published by Penguin Random House and have sold in six countries. Both books have received starred national reviews and Rodin's Lover was a Goodread’s Pick of the Month in 2015. Heather’s works have been featured in national print media including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, Elle, France Magazine, Dish Magazine, the Washington Independent Review of Books, and more

 

 

 

Heather Webb
On Facebook
On Twitter

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For suggestions about content or to comment on the show, email Mark Stevens. Also feel free to leave a comment about the podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast provider.

Host Mark Stevens: http://www.writermarkstevens.com

Rocky Mountain Writer #46

Susan Spann
Susan Spann

Susan Spann - Writing a Killer Mystery 

This time on the podcast we welcome back RMFW Writer of the Year Susan Spann, author of the forthcoming The Ninja’s Daughter.

Susan is giving a master class at Colorado Gold in September and she’s here this time to give us a sneak peek of that class, Writing a Killer Mystery.

Susan talks about the key elements every mystery writer needs—the crime, the sleuth, clues, the setting, how to ramp up tension and much more.

 

 

 

Susan Spann

Seventh Street Books

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For suggestions about content or to comment on the show, email Mark Stevens. Also feel free to leave a comment about the podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast provider.

Host Mark Stevens: http://www.writermarkstevens.com

Rocky Mountain Writer #45

Stuart Horwitz
Stuart Horwitz

Stuart Horwitz - Finishing Your Book in Three Drafts

This podcast is the first in a series of conversations with key presenters who are coming to Colorado Gold, RMFW’s big annual three-day writing conference, in September.

This time the guest is Stuart Horwitz, who is leading a master class on Friday, Sept. 9 and that workshop follows the approach in his new book, Finish Your Book in Three Drafts: How to Write a Book, Revise a Book, and Complete a Book While You Still Love It. That book is set for publication on June 6 and it’s the third in Horwitz’ Book Architecture trilogy.

Horwitz is founder and principal of a company called Book Architecture. He’s spent over fifteen years helping writers become authors, signing with top literary agencies, sealing deals with coveted publishing houses and forging a successful path through indie publishing.

Stuart Horwitz is an award-winning essayist and poet. He has taught writing at Grub Street of Boston and Brown University. He holds two masters degrees—one in Literary Aesthetics from NYU and one in East Asian Studies from Harvard with a concentration in Medieval Japanese Buddhism.
 

Book Architecture

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For suggestions about content or to comment on the show, email Mark Stevens. Also feel free to leave a comment about the podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast provider.

Host Mark Stevens: http://www.writermarkstevens.com

Rocky Mountain Writer #44

HEADSHOTcrop 2000x2000Corinne O'Flynn - Getting Ready for Colorado Gold

Registration for Colorado Gold, RMFW's big three-day conference in September, is now open and this podcast provides a thorough preview from conference chair Corinne O’Flynn.

There are several new features to the conference this year including “Hook Your Book” sessions, new options on the master class schedule, an expanded author signing sessions, additional author readings, the mentor room and more. Corinne talks about the two keynote speakers who are on the way and offers suggestions for first-time conference goers.

Corinne O'Flynn is a native New Yorker who now lives in Colorado and wouldn't trade life in the Rockies for anything. She's the author of The Expatriates fantasy series and the Half Moon Girls mystery novella series.

When she isn't writing, Corinne works as the executive director of a nonprofit. She is a member of RMFW, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and ALLi, The Alliance of Independent Authors.

Corinne O'Flynn

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For suggestions about content or to comment on the show, email Mark Stevens. Also feel free to leave a comment about the podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast provider.

Host Mark Stevens: http://www.writermarkstevens.com

Rocky Mountain Writer #43


cropped-linda-hullLinda Joffe Hull

This podcast is about getting involved.

Specifically, it's an interview with former RMFW Writer of the Year Linda Joffe Hull about her journey of getting involved in both Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and Mystery Writers of America.

Last week in New York, Linda was one of the co-presenters at the Edgar Awards for the best novel in juvenile fiction. Her work with writing organizations, however, started with becoming active within RMFW.

Linda Joffe Hull is the author of two standalone novels, The Big Bang (Tyrus Books) and Frog Kisses (Literary Wanderlust). She has also written three books in the Mrs. Frugalicious Mystery series (Midnight Ink) featuring bargain hunter and sleuth, Maddie Michaels: Eternally 21 (2013), Black Thursday (2014) and Sweetheart Deal (2015).

Linda currently serves on the national board of Mystery Writers of America. She is a longtime member and former president of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and was the 2013 RMFW Writer of the Year.

Linda Joffe Hull

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For suggestions about content or to comment on the show, email Mark Stevens. Also feel free to leave a comment about the podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast provider.

Host Mark Stevens: http://www.writermarkstevens.com

Linger & Mingle

Last Thursday Night at the Edgar Awards in New York City.
Last Thursday Night at the Edgar Awards in New York City.

How did I get here?

That was my question last Thursday night as I sat at the banquet at The Edgar Awards in New York City.
Technically, I got to the banquet because I’m president of Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers of America (RMMWA).

That slot puts you on the national board for Mystery Writers of America and that means you get to attend a quite swanky event and watch mystery writers pick up the top award in my favorite genre.

But the RMMWA gig only came about because I also previously had the chance to do lots of things with RMFW.

But how did that come about?

Years ago, I’d started going to the monthly workshops on a regular basis. I started asking more questions. I started hanging out. I lingered. And, well, mingled. I started getting to know a few people. And then someone asked if I would like to serve as monthly workshop coordinator. Maybe? Would I?

I won’t belabor every step but suddenly I found myself in the flow of the organization. After a few board meetings, I started to see how the organization functions. Who wouldn’t be impressed by watching so many give so much?

(Don’t worry—this isn’t a ‘please volunteer’ pitch.)

(Of course, it would be fine if you did. RMFW is always in need of new voices. It would give you a chance to linger and mingle.)

By chipping in a little time and effort, showing a bit of care for how RMFW did its thing as an organization, I found it felt good to chip in and help. And then the next thing you know, I’m helping out with the mystery writers group and there you go.

So hold that thought for a second and now see if you agree with me on this (or not).

Writers are friendly people.

True? Yes?

As the Edgar Awards banquet was winding down, I hung around. Yes, lingered.

A guy who is, in my world, a pretty darn big name in the mystery writing field came up to say hello. He has won a “best novel of the year” Edgar. His new book (comes out in a few weeks) has already been optioned for film. He’s heading out soon on a national tour.

I’d met him once before at mystery conference, but I mean that “meeting” was 3.5 seconds and done.

Last week the chat was five minutes. Um, maybe ten. He said he knew my name. What? Seriously?

The banquet hall.
The banquet hall.

I handed him my business card, which has the cover for Lake of Fire on it and he was surprised. It turns out that was going to be the title for one of his books, a few books ago.

(So glad I beat him to it.)

Well, after chatting for a few minutes he said something along these lines: “If there is anything I can ever do to help you, please let me know.”

So pitching in to help run a few workshops about 10 years ago led me to this conversation with this very well-known writer who is offering me help.

???

I was telling a non-writer friend about this exchange the morning after the banquet.

She said: “Well, it makes sense, you know, it seems to me that writers have to like people. I mean, if they are going to write about people they have to like them first, be interested in what makes them tick.”

Boom. There it was.

Yeah, writers are generally good people.

We are, generally, interested in people.

Don’t we have to be?

Rocky Mountain Writer #42

13045561_592692214239930_883249832_nAimie K. Runyan & Promised to the Crown

Aimie K. Runyan's first novel, "Promised to the Crown," launches this week. The novel is set in 17th Century France and New France, a.k.a. Canada.

The idea for the book started for Runyan in third grade when she took an instant interest in the French language and soon, an even deeper interest in everything to do with France.

Her interest in France stayed with her through high school and college and it was while working on her Master's thesis on the women who helped found French Canada that she won a generous grant from the Quebec government to study onsite for three months, enabling the detailed research necessary for work on her novel.

On the podcast, Runyan offers tips for guarding your writing time and how she fit work on the novel around raising two small children. She also talks about how she found her agent following a session of Pitch Wars on Twitter and the steps to finding her publisher.

The podcast includes Aimie reading the opening of Promised to the Crown.

Aimie K. Runyan

Kensington Books

On Amazon

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For suggestions about content or to comment on the show, email Mark Stevens. Also feel free to leave a comment about the podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast provider.

Host Mark Stevens: http://www.writermarkstevens.com