You are a VIP and I appreciate you from the bottom of my heart. Can you imagine what would happen if organizations like Red Cross and Meals on Wheels had to pay all their workers?
Last week I donated blood and a writer from the local newspaper was there. When she asked why I donated I told her that there were so many things that happened in the world that I couldn’t do anything about, but what I could do was give blood. (Btw, I have very good blood: O negative.) One Pint Can Save Three Lives
I’m on the Delaware River and Bay Lighthouse Foundation Board and we’ve been working hard to replace the dock on the Harbor of Refuge Lighthouse. On July 5, we took Senator Carper (DE) out to see our lovely lady. He asked each of us why we had gotten involved. I told him that it was because gone means gone. Without volunteers working on preservation many of our historic landmarks will simply go away.
There are so many of you doing such important work out there. You’re my rock stars!
I hope you’ll comment below to give your favorite charity or nonprofit a shout out. Go ahead and add in a web address for anyone who wants to know more.
Tiara Investigations Mysteries
Sisters in Crime, an organization of crime writers and readers, sponsored a conference last weekend to teach us the inner workings of the TV and movie industry. My takeaway is that Hollywood is like a blender of money that someone took the lid off and turned on.
The conference started with a presentation by Pam Veasey, executive producer of CSI:NY and CSI: Cyber, on how to pitch your book series to Hollywood. At the end of the day we would be pitching our series to producers and agents for possible adaptation to TV or a feature film, and she wanted us to be ready. She told us that producers, agents, studios would rather have a published book, than an idea. And that we’re storytellers, so we should tell a story, rather than outline a plot. Don’t pitch dialog. Pitch action.
All the panelists made it clear that they do not want anything coming in over the transom. Trust me, authors asked about that in each session. Remember the phrase, “have your people call my people”? Yep, that’s how it works.
I’ll jump ahead here and tell you my pitch went really well, if I do say so myself. She said she loved the premise of my series. (Three former Georgia beauty queens start a detective agency and, because they haven’t told their husbands, have to meet their clients at the local Cracker Barrel.) She even took the books to read. Then she emailed on Wednesday to say that my books were “a fun romp,” but not for her. Though my series wasn’t chosen, just pitching was a wonderful experience.
For successful projects, having your series or book optioned is the next step. The option buyer has a period of time to exercise the option and then begin production. By far most optioned projects never see the light of day. Some books are optioned 8 or 10 or 12 times, and never made.
Let’s say, your work will be going into production, the next step is hiring a screenwriter. Most contracts include some amount of collaboration with the author. EVERY speaker that covered this said that how the author communicated with the screenwriter and producer, and responded to their comments determined the extent of their involvement.
Some authors want to try writing screen plays themselves. Author, and now screenwriter, Megan Abbott, said that she didn’t read books on script writing because they made her anxious. Instead, she read all the high quality scripts she could get her hands on. However, another speaker recommended Pam Douglas’ Writing the TV Drama Series.
Hollywood is such a different world and it was fascinating to have a peek inside – but I wouldn’t want to live there. On the downside, I found how they ignored new media unsettling. Something about it felt familiar. Oh, yeah. Remember when Crown Books and Borders thought no one would ever be interested in that little Amazon thing? And then all the agents and publishers poo-pooing indie writers? Hmmm.
I loved hanging out with author friends I don’t see that often, and making new friends. We’ve promised to keep in touch and we meant it – because this isn’t Hollywood.
Last year 24 Cozy Cat authors wrote a group mystery, CHASING THE CODEX.
We were carrying on a time honored tradition in the mystery world. The Detection Club, with members such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers, published several mysteries written by multiple authors, each writing a chapter or two.
I wrote Chapter 15. Here’s a bit of it:
Detective Krill rubbed his forehead, and leaned closer to the man opposite him at the wooden table. He lowered the volume and spoke slowly. The flower child, well beyond his sell-by date, seemed unperturbed. “Mr. Rambler, or whatever your name is, we’re in an interrogation room at the Harpshead Police Station, not a courtroom. You cannot object. Let’s start over. The man you fatally shot in your van was named Holt?”
“Nah, man. That’s what I’m objecting to. He was Holt, but he wasn’t Holt.”
“I’ll need more than that. Who is this Holt?”
“First, what?” the detective asked.
“His last name.” Rambler rolled his eyes, then winced at the pain. His attacker had gotten in a few good licks with that pan.
“What is Holt’s last name?”
“Oh, my head.” Rambler put his head in his hands, and pressed his palms against his eyes.
“Do you want to get checked out at the hospital? We can finish this later.”
“Let’s keep going. It’s just that I can still see the look in his eyes when he knew he was about to buy it. Like I told you, I was asleep and he broke in and attacked me.”
“Why did he target you? Why your van?”
Rambler shrugged his shoulders.
“If you don’t mind my saying so, it didn’t look like you had much to steal. Other than your motorcycle, which he could have gotten without even waking you up.”
“Hey, my VW bus is classic.”
“You can’t think of what he might have been after?”
“Maybe some of your, let’s call it, agricultural imports?”
No way was Rambler answering that one. “Anyway, like I was sayin’, he broke in and we started fighting. He pulled a gun on me, but in the scuffle he was shot.”
There was a knock on the door and Krill got up to talk to a young uniformed officer. He handed the detective a paper and pointed to the middle of the page. This was just enough of a break to allow in the image he had been trying so hard to get out of his head. The guy was street tough, but Rambler was trained and, back in the day, had been disciplined. Both of their hands had been on the gun, pointed under Holt’s chin. Rambler realized all he had to do was move his hand. And that’s what he had done.
This year Larry and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary by going on a Viking River Cruise. At least, I think that’s why we went. Could have been I was brainwashed by the 3 or 4 a night commercials on PBS. Anyway, on December 5 we flew from Dulles to Frankfurt.
Christmas markets were in full swing, but the first morning’s sightseeing was on a much more sobering topic. We visited the NAZI party rally grounds. Until 1938 the National Socialists met for about a week each year. Some of Hitler’s largest crowds met here and in their 1935 planning meetings the Nuremberg Laws were developed, sowing the seeds for the Final Solution.
After that we did enjoy the Christmas markets. Each city has their own mug for mulled wine. Cobblestones and wine don’t mix, so I opted for hot chocolate.
We sailed along the Main-Danube canal each night. The canal was completed in 1992. Sixteen stair step locks allow boats to climb 1,332 above sea level. Here’s the view from our stateroom.
After a special performance of Figaro’s Wedding in Austria, we sailed to Budapest.
Viking really took care of everything. The crew was great! Here they are welcoming us back after a morning of sightseeing.
Happy Holidays, everybody!
Lane, Larry & Abby
The holidays are upon us. Let’s impress, without the stress! Here are 3 easy recipes to do just that-
Patricia Rockwell’s Family Favorite Green Beans
Someone once said Thanksgiving was turkey served with 17 carbs. I’m always on the lookout for a noncarb side dish. Here’s an easy one from Patricia Rockwell, author of the Essie Cobb Senior Sleuth Mysteries, GHOSTED.
Sauté chopped bacon and add some chopped onions and continue to sauté until browned. Add several cans of green beans with juice and simmer for several hours.
Susan Spencer-Smith, author of Corpse in the Cookery. These recipes are from her cookbook, THE PREACHER LADY’S COOKBOOK FOR THE HUNGRY HEART.
I love that the corn pudding can be made with frozen corn. Check out this punch recipe. For years it seemed like someone was always pregnant during the holidays. I got in the habit of having something nice as a nonalcoholic drink. I was happy to see this recipe for Cranberry Punch.
20 oz. frozen kernel corn, about 4¼ c.
4 eggs, beaten
2 c. milk or light cream
⅓ c. finely chopped onion
¾ tsp. salt
⅛ tsp. pepper
2 tsp. sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter large casserole dish. In large bowl combine all ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Pour into prepared dish. Bake 1 hour or until set.
4 c. cranberry juice
¼ c. sugar
4 c. pineapple juice
1 T. almond extract
8 c. ginger ale
In large container combine cranberry juice, sugar, pineapple juice and almond extract. Chill. Add ginger ale just before serving.
Here’s one of my recipes. These flavors really pair nicely with Thanksgiving’s usual suspects. Enjoy!
Oven Roasted Grapes with Salad Greens
3 cups seedless red and white grapes (about 1 pound), halved crosswise
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Small red onion, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or red-wine vinegar
4 cups mixed small greens such as baby kale, baby Swiss chard, red mustard, or red mizuna
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Arrange red and white grapes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon salt. Bake until grapes have shrunk to about half their size but are still juicy, about 1 hour 30 minutes. Let cool.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Cook onions for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and cook until onions are golden brown, about 2 minutes more. Add 1 tablespoon oil. Flip onions, and season with a pinch of salt. Cook, flipping, until onions are tender and browned on both sides, 8 to 10 minutes more. Remove from heat. Stir in vinegar and remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Stir in red & white grapes. Let stand for 20 minutes or more.Top greens with the grapes and onions just before serving.
More recipes from cozy mystery authors can be found in COZY FOOD. I have two super easy appetizer recipes in there.
For romance and romantic suspense readers-
As you’re reading this, I’m at Georgia Romance Writers’ annual conference, Moonlight and Magnolias. Most of the time, I’ll be in sessions on craft and on the state of the industry. To learn more go to, http://www.georgiaromancewriters.org/mm-conference/. Saturday, October 3, from 4:00 until 5:30 we’ll all be signing our books at the Book Fair & Author Autographing for Literacy. Authors include Chris Marie Green, Jana Oliver, Candace Havens, Beverley Kendall, and Lucy Silag. (Oh yeah, and me.) The book fair will be free and open to the public. A signed book makes a great Christmas gift!
Atlanta Marriott Northwest at Galleria
200 Interstate North Parkway SE
Atlanta, Georgia 30339 USA
For cozy mystery readers-
Malice Domestic is an annual fan convention which salutes the traditional mystery, and is held each spring in Bethesda, MD. My panel this year was called Cozy Noir. The photo below: Sara Paretsky, Elaine Viets, Marcia Talley (moderator,) Alice Loweecy, me and SheilaYork. For more info on MALICE DOMESTIC 28: April 29-May 1, 2016, go to www.malicedomestic.org
For ALL mystery, thriller, crime fiction readers-
Creatures, Crimes and Creativity, is held in September in Maryland. C3 is both a writers’ conference and fan get together. This as an opportunity for readers and writers to meet in an informal atmosphere. Both groups have fun learning about writing and hanging out together. Can’t attend the whole weekend? Then the Saturday night signing is for you. http://creaturescrimesandcreativity.com/?page_id=1340
A little something for everyone, right?
Stay in touch,
Time to say good-bye to summer. If you’re a movie lover like me, it’s also a time to look back at the second most important time of the year – summer movies.
My favorite was Ricki and The Flash. For me, this was a story about the incredibly high price you pay when you try to lead an authentic life. It’s hard and most people won’t understand you.
On the bottom of my list was Entourage. It was so bad I couldn’t get up and leave. Not clever, and even the bathroom humor was bad bathroom humor. Tomorrowland, however, I did leave in the middle of.
Among the action movies, I loved Mission Impossible, Rogue Nation. This franchise does what it does really well. Another fun movie was Man From U.N.C.L.E., which was part action movie, part period piece. Speaking of period pieces, Mr. Holmes was beautiful to watch but slooooow as molasses. The Gift had a classic scary movie vibe. Loved it, too. No Escape was exciting. Owen Wilson was seen as an unusual choice for the lead, but he pulled it off. Aloha starred Bradley Cooper, who never ceases to amaze me. I also saw Minions. Don’t judge me – I took pity on a friend whose wife was hosting her book club, leaving him with the two little girls. Sandra Bullock is such a good actress, even when she is only using her voice. Speaking of good actresses, Melissa McCarthy was wonderful in Spy.
Time to rest up for the Christmas movies!
Do let me know your favorite summer 2015 flick.
In April, 381 men and 19 women began Army Ranger School, at Fort Benning, GA, a U.S. Army base near the Georgia-Alabama line. Only ninety-four men and two women completed the three-phase, 62-day, ordeal. The graduation ceremony will be held today at Fort Benning, when all the graduates will be “tabbed.” On Thursday, the two women were publicly identified. Capt. Kristen Griest and First Lieutenant Shaye Haver are both U.S. Military Academy at West Point graduates.
However, the two women are not currently eligible to apply to join the 75th Ranger Regiment, an elite special operations force. Hmm. I grilled interviewed Lawrence Korb, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower, Installations and Logistics, and retired Navy Captain, aka my husband, about this.
Me: So what happens next for these two trailblazers, Captain Griest and 1st Lt. Haver?
Larry: They have to wait until Oct 1 to see which combat units the Army will open up to females. By that date the services must justify why women cannot serve in any particular unit. After October 1, if they open up the Ranger Regiment, they can apply because they’ve already earned their tabs.
Me: What is the difference in the next steps for the male graduates and the two women?
Larry: The men can apply immediately.
Me: What changes do you think the Army, and all the other branches of the military, should make to ensure true gender equality?
Larry: I think acceptance to any unit should be based on skills, rather than gender.
Me: What advice would you give a young woman to prepare for a career in the military? For instance, Haver ran cross-country in high school.
Larry: Physical fitness is important certainly, but these two women also exhibited mental fortitude. In interviews they have talked about not going into this with a chip on their shoulder. Serving your country at this elite level takes mental, moral and physical capacity.
Thanks, sweetie. You’re welcome.
Lane Stone Larry Korb