Category Archives: Crime Fiction

A History Book Disguised as a Debut Novel

Today, I am interviewing Sheena Macleod author of Reign of the Marionettes, a historical novel set in the Highlands in Scotland.

Welcome, Sheena!

Q: Would you please tell us a little about yourself?

A: I live in a small seaside town in Scotland with my family, and two dogs – Lola a Dalmatian and Missy a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  My working life was spent in mental health nursing, first as a practitioner and then as a specialist practitioner (Cognitive Behavioural Therapist). Around this time, I moved into nurse teaching, gaining an MSc in Advanced Mental Health Nursing and then a PhD.  After taking early retirement from the University of Dundee, I combined my love of history with my passion for research and set out to write a series of historical fiction novels. Reign of the Marionettes, a historical drama based in Restoration London, is the first of these books and my first published novel.

Q: When and what made you decide you wanted to be a writer?

A: I love to read and have since childhood. I became interested in the Highland Clearances and started researching the life of the Duchess of Sutherland – Elizabeth Sutherland Leveson-Gower – who is regarded as one of the principal agents involved in clearing tenant farmers from the internal straths and glens of the Highlands in Scotland to make way for sheep.

I traced Elizabeth Sutherland’s family back through the generations, trying to understand her background and role in the Highland Clearances. The main character in Reign of the Marionettes, Elizabeth Herbert, is a distant relative of the Duchess of Sutherland.

Q: Where do you get your ideas for your books?

A: From history. Fact is sometimes stranger than fiction.

Q: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

A: I write historical drama and enjoy including small details of the time. Despite writing historical fiction, I try to keep a current feel as if events are happening now.

Q: How are your books published?

A: Reign of the Marionettes is published by Dark Ink Press.

A short story, “Ghosts of Culloden”, was published in a fiction anthology in March this year by the One Million Project. Over a hundred authors from around the world contributed short stories to form three anthologies- Fiction, Thriller, and Fantasy. All proceeds, less costs of publishing the anthologies, will go to help Cancer Research UK and homelessness.

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The Writing Lesson – a guest post by C. Hope Clark

The Writing Lesson

By C. Hope Clark

 

“Use the senses in every single scene,” I emphasized to the adult writing class, only for a rebound of clueless stares to bounce back at me.

A middle-aged, bottled-brunette lady who I’d heard had two self-published books to her name already, asked, “In every scene?”

I smiled and nodded. “In every scene. You understand show don’t tell, right?”

In rote union, the class nodded, but I could almost smell the insecurity.

“Get rid of passive voice and you’ve halfway mastered show don’t tell, right?” Don’t plead, I reminded myself. They’re trying to learn.

Half the people in the class had self-published books yet didn’t understand what I was trying to instill into their eager, storytelling brains. They looked to their left and right, seeking validation from seat mates, confirmation that others weren’t understanding either.

We sat in a library meeting room, the accordion doors opened to accommodate tables for 35 students. Nobody chatted amongst themselves, meaning I had their attention, unfortunately accompanied by their confusion.

No point in advancing to the next topic if this one hadn’t sunk in. Not a person to enjoy presentations, much less adlibbing on the fly, my pulse quickened. I scrambled for an alternative, a new angle, anything that could give these students an AHA moment.

A deep breath, or was it a sigh? I should’ve brought more examples. Maybe vetted the students somehow.

Feet moved. One chair scratched the floor as someone shifted. The librarian sat in the back, scrutinizing, sending another jolt of adrenaline into my system as our eyes met, hers querying, They’re waiting, before shifting uncomfortably off me.

A seed of a half-thought took root. “Everyone pick up your pen.”

They did, anxious to be proactive and not so lost. The librarian didn’t, but she watched with interest.

Impromptu on anyone’s part snares interest. Most of us can’t do it. I wasn’t so sure I had it in me, either, but what did I have to lose other than my credibility? I reminded myself what I always did when speaking to groups, a mantra that I didn’t readily tell other about. If this doesn’t go well, remember you’ll never see these people again.

“Write down five things you see,” I said. “Remember, you’re a creative person so don’t just say tables, chairs, walls, and people.”

To show how united I was with their effort, I grabbed a pad and wrote as well. Once done, I waited until half had returned their attention back to me.

“Now, list five things you can touch and how they feel.”

Eyebrows raised on that one, and they began stroking anything within reach. They saw where I was going, and the body language told me some clearly accepted the challenge.

Heads up again.

“List five things you hear.”

The room went silent. I had to laugh. Pens went to paper when I did.

“List five things you smell.”

Frowns all around. I closed my eyes and inhaled. Coffee, cologne, body odor. Was that paper? I recalled the air freshener in the bathroom next door and cheated, listing it. When I peeked out from my own reverie, others still had their eyes closed, sensing, too.

“Finally,” I said, “let’s do taste.”

Lips smacked, and I had to chuckle again. A laugh rippled across the tables. “List five tastes you had today.”

“Ahhh,” came the relief as pens met paper.

As people came back to life, I realized how much more relaxed I was. “Do y’all feel better?”

Nods and yeahs from around the room.

Shrugging shoulders for show, I sucked in a deep breath. “Wow, that was rather soothing.”

More nods. The librarian was practically tranquil.

And in that moment, I had a revelation.

As a nature aficionado, how many times had I sat at the lake and just chilled? Closed my eyes and attempted to count the types of bird calls? Told my four-year-old grandson to take in the smells, sounds, and feel of nature? Weeded my garden and taken the time to smell the dirt, the rotted leaves, the honeysuckle on the fence.

“What we just did,” I soothingly said to myself as much as them, “is a writer’s version of meditating. Take a moment to settle into a sense of nothingness when you’re writing, then fill it in with the senses, taking note of each one.”

They listened.

“This is also how you can overcome the pressure of deadlines, writer’s block, and the discomfort of whatever scene you’re writing that won’t unfold to your liking. It’s also how you can challenge your sensory perception. Wherever you are, the mall, the kitchen, the job. . . take five minutes and meditate, for no reason other than to define your senses. All five of them.”

Palms out, I lowered them gently. “In each scene, step back and insert yourself into the setting. Do the exercise we just did. Because by you becoming the character in all this sensory detail, you write such that the reader can become the character. The reader smells, sees, hears, touches, and tastes. And with the least little attention also to passive voice, you–” and I paused.

“Show don’t tell,” whispered several people.

“Some kid would call that virtual reality,” said a man in the front.

What a keen observation. And I thought he hadn’t been listening. “And why can’t we do that as people, too? When we aren’t writing. When we need to settle into a scene and out of whatever road block or irritation it is we need to depart from as people?”

The class went on, and I wrapped up the lesson on constructing a scene. Time quickly expired, and before long I was shaking hands from thankful students.

“Best writing class ever.”

“I get showing now.”

“I’m going home and telling my teenager about this.”

Once everyone left, the librarian commended me, saying she’d be inviting me back.

I almost cried.

Then alone, the lights flipping off around the library, I exited to my car parked in the corner of the lot under a streetlight, stepping gently, not wanting to break the specialness of the evening.

Rather than telling the reader what’s going on, my students could now make the reader experience what the character does, when the character does it, tallying the stimuli in an attempt to reach some sort of summation about that point in the story.

But in delivering that lesson, I’d realized I could choose to fall out of any negative in any part of my world, and step into the scene of my choosing via the practice of a writing exercise. Not only could I write like this, but I could live like this.

And I’d just helped 35 other people learn to love life more, too.

And a librarian.

 

BIO: C. Hope Clark’s newest release is Newberry Sin, set in an idyllic small Southern town where blackmail and sex are hush-hush until they become murder. The fourth in the Carolina Slade Mysteries. Hope speaks to conferences, libraries, and book clubs across the country, is a regular podcaster for Writer’s Digest, and adores connecting with others. She is also founder of FundsforWriters.com, an award-winning site and newsletter service for writers.  She lives on the banks of Lake Murray in central South Carolina with her federal agent husband where they never tire of spinning mysteries. www.chopeclark.com

 

 

 

 

Book Blurb:

Beneath an idyllic veneer of Southern country charm, the town of Newberry hides secrets that may have led to murder.

When a local landowner’s body, with pants down, is found near Tarleton’s Tea Table Rock – a notorious rendezvous spot, federal investigator Carolina Slade senses a chance to get back into the field again.  Just as she discovers what might be a nasty pattern of fraud and blackmail, her petty boss reassigns her fledgling case to her close friend and least qualified person in their office.

Forces to coach an investigation from the sidelines, Slade struggles with the twin demons of professional jealousy and unplanned pregnancy.  Something is rotten in Newberry.  Her personal life is spiraling out of control.  She can’t protect her co-worker.  And Wayne Largo complicates everything when the feds step in after it become clear that Slade is right.

One wrong move, and Slade may lose everything.  Yet it’s practically out of her hands…unless she finds a way to take this case back without getting killed

 

Be sure to check out all of C. Hope Clark’s book on her website www.chopeclark.com

Sign up for C. Hope Clark’s FREE newsletter FundsforWriters and get writing tips, lists of contests, and so much more!

 

Purchase Books Here:

Amazon link https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07BYD5T4P/

Kobo link https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/newberry-sin

B&N link https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/newberry-sin-c-hope-clark/1128369562

Google link https://play.google.com/store/books/details/C_Hope_Clark_Newberry_Sin

Apple link https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/newberry-sin/

Review Link (Amazon) https://www.amazon.com/review/create-review/ref=?ie=UTF8&asin=B07BYD5T4P#

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Looking for Authors to Interview

I hope those who read this blog post today will share with all your author friends.

I am looking for authors to interview in order to help them promote their books.

If you are interested, please contact me at cyannris at gmail dot com.

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Holiday Book Gift Guide

A while back I put out a call to authors to be included in a Holiday Book Gift Guide that I was creating.

WOW! What a turn out.

I really did not expect too many to participate, but am so happy they did.

You can view the Holiday Book Gift Guide here:

Be sure to take some time to visit all the authors who participated.  Some have special sales going on until December 31.  Others are offering free chapter samples and others, if you sign up for their newsletter, will give a free copy of one of their books.

I ask everyone who is reading this post to please share on your social media sites.

Note-authors were NOT charged a fee to participate in the gift guide.  This was FREE for all who participated.  And if everyone promotes this guide, the cross-promotion has a huge wide potential.

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Holiday Book Magazine

Hop on over to my Page “Holiday Magazine” and see the information I need if you wish to have your book(s) listed in the 2017 Holiday Gift Magazine I will be sending to all my newsletter subscribers.

If you participate by having your book(s) in the magazine, I will give you a pdf file of the magazine to share with your newsletter subscribers.

This is a great way to promote your book(s) FREE of charge…well, you will need to spend a little bit of time getting me the information for the magazine then sending it out to your readers.

The more that participate the more circulation your books will have!

And, I will feature a book a day on this blog throughout the Holiday Season!

 

 

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128 Words with Senses that Started out as Underworld Slang

This list of words is good for writers writing about the mob/mafia and want to use the correct wordage for the time period.

**********

From Daily Writing Tips, August 10, 2017

The slang senses of many words we use in conversation and in informal writing originated in jargon employed by criminals, often coined to disguise the activities they were describing when they spoke among one another. This post lists and defines a number of those words.

action: bet, or betting, or criminal activity
aggro: aggressive behavior
angle: approach, or plan
bananas: crazy (originally, “sexually perverted”)
beat: escape, avoid
beef: quarrel
blow: leave
boob: stupid person
boost: steal
bought: bribed
break it up: stop argument or fight
broad: woman
buddy: man (as in addressing a person the speaker does not know)
bum’s rush: act of being forcibly removed
bump/bump off: kill
bunk: nonsense
buy: bribe
case: check the site of a potential robbery
chisel: cheat
clam up: stop talking, or refuse to talk, to avoid giving information
con: scheme to trick someone into relinquishing money
con man: person who steals through trickery
cop/copper: police officer or private detective
crew: group of rank-and-file criminals subordinate to a leader; by extension, a group of people with whom one associates
crumb: worthless person; originally, a noncriminal
deep-six: bury
dive: low-quality establishment, such as a dark, dingy bar
doll: attractive woman
dope: drugs, or information
dough: money
dump: see dive
Feds: federal law-enforcement personnel
fence: trade stolen items, or one who does so
finger: identify
fix: situation in which law-enforcement personnel have been bribed to overlook criminal activity
fruit: homosexual (derogatory)
fuzz: police
glom: steal (by extension, “grab”)
go straight: cease criminal activity
goofy: crazy (by extension, “silly”)
goon: low-level criminal
graft: see con
grand: thousand (dollars)
grease: see buy
grill: interrogate
grifter: see “con man”
haywire: mentally unbalanced
heat: attention from law-enforcement personnel, or a gun (by extension, “psychological pressure”)
heel: an incompetent criminal (by extension, “a villain or someone who takes on a villainous persona or role,” as in professional wrestling)
hit: planned murder (by extension, “an attack on someone’s reputation”)
hood(lum): see goon
horn: telephone
hot: stolen
hype: cheat by short-changing, or hypodermic needle
jam: trouble, or a troublesome situation
jaw: talk
joe: coffee
joint: place
junkie: drug user
keister: buttocks, or a safe
kisser: mouth
knock off: see bump/“bump off”
knock over: rob
large: see grand
lay low: remain out of sight so as to avoid attention after committing a crime
legit: pertaining to legal business activities
lit: drunk
loan shark: one who loans money at high rates of interest
looker: see doll
lug: stupid person (by extension, “clumsy person”—often used affectionately and jocularly)
mark: person targeted to be a victim of criminal activity
marker: IOU, note acknowledging a debt
mitt: hand
muscle: force, or intimidate, or someone who forces or intimidates
mug: face
nail: capture
nick: steal
nix: no, or say no to something
on the carpet: situation in which a criminal is called on the carpet, or disciplined, by a leader (by extension, pertains to any similar event)
on the lam: moving secretly to avoid arrest after committing a crime
on the spot: targeted for assassination (by extension, pertaining to being held accountable for a failure or mistake)
packing heat: armed with a gun
patsy: person framed for a crime (by extension, “fool”)
paw: hand
piece: share of the proceeds from criminal activity (see action), or a gun
pig: police officer
pinch: arrest
pop: see bump/“bump off”
punk: see goon (originally, a submissive homosexual)
put the screws on: see grill
queer: counterfeit
rap: criminal charge
rat: give information about associates’ criminal activities to law-enforcement personnel, or someone who does so
ringer: fake
rub out: see bump/“bump off”
rube: easy victim
sap: stupid person
score: succeed in obtaining stolen money or goods
scram: see blow
scratch: money
sing: see rat (verb)
skip out: leave without paying
skirt: woman
slug: punch, or knock unconscious, or a bullet
snatch: kidnap
sock: punch
spill: see rat (verb), or talk (verb)
square: honest
stiff: corpse
sting: see con (by extension, “a law-enforcement operation to prompt and observe criminal behavior”)
stir: jail
stir-crazy: mentally disturbed because of incarceration
stool pigeon/stoolie: see rat (noun)
straighten out: resolve a dispute
string along: deceive
sucker: see rube
swag: stolen goods (by extension, “gifts offered to promote through publicity”)
tag: designation (by extension, “graffiti signature”)
tail: track a criminal’s activities, or a law-enforcement official who does so
take: share of profits from criminal activity
take a powder: leave
take (someone) for a ride: see bump/“bump off”
take the fall: be targeted for blame for a crime
tighten the screws: pressure
trap: see kisser
two bits: twenty-five cents
vendetta: vow of vengeance (by extension, “a passionate, sustained effort to avenge oneself or one’s family or group”)
yap: see kisser

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7 Upcoming Writers Conferences

Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Los Angeles
July 7-10, 2017
https://www.scbwi.org/annual-conferences/

Thriller Fest, Grand Hyatt, New York City
July 11-15, 2017
http://thrillerfest.com/

Romance Writers of AmericaWalt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort, Orlando, FL
July 26-29, 2017
http://www.rwa.org/conference

Writers Digest Conference, New York City
August 18-20, 2017
http://www.writersdigestconference.com/

Killer Nashville, Franklin, TN
August 24-27, 2017
http://www.killernashville.com

Creatures, Crime & Creativity, Sheraton Columbia Town Center, Columbia, MD
September 8-10, 2017
http://creaturescrimesandcreativity.com/

Historical Writers of AmericaSanta Ana Pueblo, NM
September 21-24, 2017
http://historicalwritersofamerica.org/

 

 

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Spring Forward Book Attack

Do you like to read? Do you like free books? Of course, you do! This is Goodreads!
Support for Indie Authors is proud to announce our first Free & Bargain Book event of 2017!

Load up your Kindle with more than 125 free and 99¢ book deals in a wide variety of genres!

Details: For three days beginning Friday, March 31st and running through Sunday, April 2nd, visit our event website to nab a whack load of free and 99¢ Kindle ebooks by our indie author members.

That’s it! No RSVP, no obligation, and best of all, no need to put on pants!* Some books will be offered all three days, but there are many one day only freebies, so make sure to check the site each day!

*Pants are only optional if you are browsing our event from the comfort of your home. SIAFBB is not responsible for pantsless readers wandering aimlessly in public spaces.

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3 Ways to Create Red Herrings in Mystery Novels

Red Herrings plays two important roles in a mystery novel.  One, they heighten the suspense and two, add challenges to solving the mystery by misleading the reader/sleuth.

A writer can create a red herring with characters, the setting, and with objects.

Characters.

In many classic mysteries, almost every character encountered benefited some way from the crime.  Therefore, give them all motives.

Provide a character with the means and opportunity.  If a person appears capable of committing a crime but has no motive, there are two possibilities created.  The person has a motive that has not been discovered or the person is working with someone who has a strong motive.

Setting.

Place – Where did the crime happen?  Did it happen in the city, country, a small village? During a New Years Eve party? During Mardi Gras?

Date –  Was the bank robbed on Friday before a national holiday?  If so, who had inside information?

Time – Did the crime happen around a holiday or while the characters were on vacation?

Weather – Was it rainy, snowing or hot outside?

Objects.

What object appear and what objects do not appear?

What does the detective see at the crime scene? What is not at the crime scene that one might expects to find?  Could someone have removed an item?  Do all the items belong?

Introduce objects with more than one explanation.  Various nuts may be a common item found in a victim’s apartment, unless it is revealed the victim is allergic to nuts.  Does the nuts implicate the killer or did the victim have a visitor who brought the nuts with them?

The more ways a reader can interpret an item, better the chance they will make the wrong assumption.

Caution.

Do not place “red herrings” in a story just to mislead readers.  Always have an explanation as to why the objects are in the story.  After all, the purpose is to make the mystery more challenging and exciting for the reader.

 

 

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What is a Red Herring in a Mystery Novel?

What is a Red Herring?

A red herring is something in a mystery novel or story that appears to be a clue but instead is a false clue that sends readers apprehending someone who is not the real villain.

An example of a “red herring” would be to choose an innocent character and give them a motive that makes them a strong suspect as the murderer.

 

To study “red herrings” read Agatha Christie who has been dubbed “the Queen of red herrings.”

 

 

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