A Writer or a Storyteller?

Are you a writer or a storyteller? Since I write two different genres, this question came up into my mind. There does seem to be a difference. When I’m writing a mystery, I feel like a writer. I have to know the beginning and the end. I have to know ‘who done it’ right at the start. As the plot unfolds, there has to be red herrings thrown in – but not helter-skelter. It has to all go by plan. There has to be several suspects; after all, it wouldn’t be much of a read if you figured out the mystery after the first chapter. In other words, you can’t just sit down at your computer and tell a story.

Historical fiction, on the other hand, is told by a storyteller. It’s true that you do need to know where you’re going with it but if you’re following a time in history, much is done for you. It  takes research on your part but then you can fit your characters into their life. There might be a mystery involved or a romance but your main emphasis is on life during that time period. Everything else adds interest and spice to your story. Your readers take themselves back in time and become those people. They feel the hardships, joys, endurance, and struggles. Unlike reading a mystery, where you wait with great anticipation until the end to find out who the culprit is, in historical fiction, you live the story from beginning to end.

Which do I prefer writing? I guess it depends on my mood. Right now, I’m writing a historical fiction that is a sequel to Sarah’s Valley. This one will be the next generation so I will be checking out what life was like during the 1930s and 1940s in southern Saskatchewan, Canada. I have the plan in my head but there will be no mysteries or romance – just a story about a young man  who faced hardships but is helped by a ten year old boy. I’m planning on telling a feel-good story!

When that is finished and published, I will think of what murder I can plot for either Beryl or Mabel to solve.

My Conflicts of Interest

It has been quite some time since I sat down and tapped out a blog. I would like to list my reasons for not doing so sooner, but sadly, I have none. Unless you count laziness and lack of imagination as reasons. In my case, they seem to be.

Spring is here. At least, it says so on my calendar. I actually believed it one day because the temperature, the bits of green grass poking out of the ground, and the birds singing proved it. Then suddenly the warm temperature disappeared and a cold north wind took its place. It was discouraging but this was April in Canada.

You would think with all the fluctuating temperatures, it would be an ideal time to curl up inside with your laptop and write a book. My agenda for the year includes writing three new books. My Mabel Wickles series is in need of a new book because there is now a new sheriff who needs Mabel’s help. Retired Reg Smee has started up a taxi service and I’m sure he’s going to find a dead body in one of his taxis any day now. Beryl Swallows has moved to Arizona but how much will she miss her neighbor, Sam Galloway? Perhaps finding a body at the bottom of her apartment’s garbage chute will keep her mind off her homesickness. Then there’s my historical fiction novel, Sarah’s Valley – too many readers have said they want to learn more about the young man, Patrick.  Obviously, I must write My Return to Sarah’s Valley.

However, I have one more hurdle (besides the lack of imagination and laziness) to overcome. Even though the weather is yucky, I have a conflict of interest. Every spring, my mind turns to spring cleaning. I know, it’s an old fashioned concept. Once it’s been ingrained in you, it’s hard to let it go. No, I don’t wash all the walls and windows in my house like I once did but I suddenly get the urge to empty out all my closets and then neatly replace everything. Well, maybe I do wash most of the windows but I draw the line at wall washing. Now it consists of wiping around all the light switches.

This is also the time of year that I get the urge to paint. I think this is my way of getting out of washing walls. So far, I’ve decided on a lighter gray for the hallway, a darker color for the main bathroom, and perhaps a brighter shade for one wall in the kitchen.

After spring cleaning is over, it’s gardening time. Already my husband is getting ready to start plants in the house. I’m wondering what flowers to plant this year and how I can rearrange my pots. Should I buy new ones or just use some of the leftover paint from the kitchen to spruce them up a bit?

Now you understand my conflicts of interest. I have no concept of writers who sit down every day, at the same desk, in the same spot, and write, spellbound, for hours at a time. If I’m going to write three books, it will be done while I’m sitting on the floor in my closet surrounded by my junk, while waiting for paint to dry, or while I’m sitting on the ground, waiting for my husband to finish tilling the garden.

Well, I have to get those books written before fall because that’s when fall cleaning begins.

Where I’m at…

After being in Texas for a while, you begin to pick up some of the jargon. Obviously, I find myself saying ‘y’all’ instead of ‘all of you,’ as if three words were too difficult to say. And instead of saying, ‘where are you?’ for some reason, ‘Where’re you at?’ pops out of my mouth. I do realize that after returning to Canada, I have to let go of my Texas talk. Not that anyone would say anything; folks are much too polite but they might secretly roll their eyes. Canadians are proud of their British roots, which means finishing each word properly and not leaving anything off – like the ‘g’ in words that end with ‘ing.’ It also means speaking slowly and pronouncing each syllable. To Texans, this is a foreign language.

However, I digress. I really do want to tell you where I’m at.

Where I’m at with my writing, that is.

A couple of months ago, I was not pleased with how my writing was going. Basically,  that is because it was going nowhere. It wasn’t that I wanted or had the desire to become a well known author or even make tons of money. I wanted to enjoy what I was doing but I was not. That’s where I was at then.

I decided to change my whole outlook about writing. Writing should be fun. I did not want it to be stressful in any way. When I’m not writing, there is something missing in my life. It’s good for my brain. It forces me to widen my vocabulary. In other words, it’s healthy. Especially as we age.

I was never satisfied with two of my books and I always thought that if someone read one of those books first, they would never want to read another. It feels terrible not liking your own books. However, they were there for anyone to buy. Overnight, I made the decision to republish all my books. It was as if a weight lifted off my shoulders. When you decide to do this without any premeditation, it is like plunging into a pool of cold water!

While family members worked on covers, I edited one book at a time. After publishing my books the first time, I never picked one up to read. I was too afraid they might be as bad as some reviewers wrote. Well, guess what? I read, I edited, I did some rewriting, and in the end, I thoroughly enjoyed every book! Creating covers was a bit of a challenge but I have a very talented daughter, and together with her dad’s finishing touches, I was very pleased with the end result. They were ‘me.’

I now have all my books on Kindle for 99 cents and they will stay that price. These I write for friends and family and for anyone else who would enjoy reading them. Every few weeks, I will pick one book and do a free promotion. I feel happy doing this.

And, that is where I’m at.

Reading it over…for the first time!

Good morning, everyone.

First of all, let’s talk about the weather. No, seriously… we are having a heatwave in central Canada! I keep advertising my books and telling readers they should stalk up for the fall/winter weather reading. I don’t think anyone is even reading my posts, they are all outside walking around in shorts. Aww, good for them. When the cold does hit us, we will be in shock for the first few weeks and really complaining. Especially here in Canada. That is our national pastime – we may be polite but we are also big time complainers when it comes to the weather. No one is complaining at the moment though.

Were any of you wondering about my subject line? How can you read something over again … for the first time? I discovered that you can. Perhaps some of you have noticed that my Parson’s Cove mystery series is no longer available. There is a reason; I am reading them over again for the first time. In doing so, I have discovered something about myself. I am not the horrible writer that I thought I was. My first book, Slip and Go Die, is actually quite a good read.

I don’t know if other authors are like me but once a book was published, I never went back to read it. I moved on. In the back of my mind, I was afraid I would see too many mistakes and I would see what readers didn’t like about it. By that time, I felt it was too late to do anything about it anyway, so why torture myself. However, once it was unpublished, I could read it with an open mind and make all those changes I was dreading that I would find.

Guess what? There were very few changes that I had to make. I did remove about a hundred commas, semi-colons, and colons, but other than that, I was quite pleased with my writing.

The moral of this story is not to tell writers to republish all their books, it is simply to say, you are probably a better writer than you think you are. Don’t be afraid to go back and reread your old books. It will boost your confidence and give you the incentive to encourage readers to buy your books. Then when you are promoting your work, you will do it like you mean it … and you will mean it!

(On the other hand, you might read it, hate it, and stop writing altogether. That, of course, is a discussion for another day!)

 

https://www.amazon.com/Sharon-Rose/e/B00BL8HTZY/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

 

Having fun with words!

Good morning, everyone! Well, it is the second Thursday of the month and even though we don’t have a set schedule anymore, I’m still on a schedule. I thought I would share some cute plays with words. See how many you can come up with.

“Lexophile” is a word used to describe those that have a love for words, such as “you can tune a piano, but you can’t tuna fish”, or “To write with a broken pencil is pointless.” A competition to see who can come up with the best lexophiles is held every year in an undisclosed location.

..No matter how much you push the envelope, it’ll still be stationery.

..If you don’t pay your exorcist you can get repossessed.

..I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. I just can’t put it down.

..I didn’t like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.

..Did you hear about the crossed-eyed teacher who lost her job because she couldn’t control her pupils?

..When you get a bladder infection, urine trouble.

..When chemists die, they barium.

..I stayed up all night to see where the sun went, and then it dawned on me.

..I changed my iPod’s name to Titanic. It’s syncing now.

..England has no kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool.

..Haunted French pancakes give me the crepes.

..This girl today said she recognized me from the Vegetarians Club, but I’d swear I’ve never met herbivore

..I know a guy who’s addicted to brake fluid, but he says he can stop any time.

..A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.

..When the smog lifts in Los Angeles U.C.L.A.

..The batteries were given out free of charge.

..A dentist and a manicurist married. They fought tooth and nail.

..A will is a dead giveaway.

..With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.

..A boiled egg is hard to beat.

..When you’ve seen one shopping center you’ve seen a mall.

..Police were summoned to a daycare center where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.

..Did you hear about the fellow whose entire left side was cut off? He’s all right now.

..A bicycle can’t stand alone; it’s just two tired.

..The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine is now fully recovered.

..He had a photographic memory which was never developed.

..When she saw her first strands of grey hair she thought she’d dye.

..Acupuncture is a jab well done. That’s the point of it.

..Those who get too big for their pants will be totally exposed in the end.

 

 

https://www.amazon.com/Sharon-Rose/e/B00BL8HTZY/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Made it by the skin of my teeth!

Since the beginning of August, I have been thinking about posting a blog the second Thursday of the month. That used to be my day on the schedule. We now have no schedule so we can post whenever we like. That really throws a person off. I happen to be a person of habit.

So, this is what I’d like to talk about – habits!

There are good and bad habits as everyone knows. People struggle to overcome bad ones and struggle to start new ones. Habits are a bit like New Year’s resolutions – we try to break old habits too quickly or try to develop too many new ones all at once and get frustrated.

Let’s say we smoke, have poor eating habits, and don’t exercise at all. One morning, we wake up with a horrible cough, believe we might have lung cancer, so decide to stop smoking that very day. Since the other two habits tend to cause health problems too, we decide to not only stop smoking but eat properly and exercise.   Our goal is to exercise an hour a day and go vegetarian. We plan to begin immediately.

How long do you think our grand transformation will last? Maybe until noon if we’re lucky. Why? Because we’ve bitten off more than we can chew. Breaking or changing a habit has to be a slow process. You have to be able to visualize the end result and keep it always in your mind. Perhaps, you will be able to break the smoking habit after three months. If that is your goal, it will seem more achievable. If you want to start exercising, why not start with fifteen minutes a day or a half hour three times a week? And you want to become a vegetarian?  After a week, you might cave in, eat a huge double bacon cheeseburger, and give up. Maybe try eating a meatless meal once or twice a week to start out.

And what about writing habits? Do you have a certain routine you have to go through? I do. I have a certain place where I always write. It’s like my brain doesn’t function anywhere else. Do I start writing immediately? No, I have a habit of checking out certain websites before I can begin. And when my mind is going too fast for my fingers to type, I stop and play Mahjong Tiles! Those are my writing habits. They are actually kind of silly but they seem to work for me and I believe they are quite harmless.

Well, this wasn’t a profound blog but it did get published on the second Thursday of the month. I will now make it a habit to mark it on my calendar.

Happy writing everyone!

Attitude – real and fictional

Have you even encountered a person with an ‘attitude’ problem? You know how you feel afterwards. Frankly, they exhaust me. Sometimes we like to find a common ground so there will be less tension but many times that fails.

Some people have a negative attitude about everything. You say, ‘Isn’t it a lovely day?’ They say, ‘Too hot for me. We’re gonna get a hurricane for sure.’ You say, ‘Isn’t this food delicious?’ They screw up their face and say, ‘I wish I’d ordered something else. This is too salty. I’ll probably get sick from it.’ You say, ‘Isn’t this a beautiful rose?’ They say, ‘If you like roses. They tend to make me sneeze.’ You say, ‘Don’t you love this song?’ They say, ‘It’s tinny sounding to me. Gives me a headache.’ You say, ‘Isn’t it a great day to be alive?’ They shrug and say, ‘Maybe for you. My ulcer is acting up.’

Then there are the ones with the uppity attitude. Even when they are looking right into your eyes, you feel as if they were looking down at you. Usually no matter what you say, this person will correct it. You say, ‘The sky is so blue today.’ (You tend to use simple sentences when you feel intimidated) And the superior mind says, ‘Actually, it’s more like the soft color of the lazuli stone.’ You say, ‘This wine is tasty.’ (Never use that word to describe wine unless you’re with another lesser mind.) The hoity-toity person says, ‘It should be. It’s a Verdicchio wine made from the finest grapes in Italy.’ You ask, ‘So what cozy mystery are you reading now?’ They look down their long nose and say, ‘I don’t read cozy mysteries. I prefer 19th century literature.’ Personally, I walk away with an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach. The only retribution I have is if that person trips as he or she walks away and lands on his or her nose.

However, there does happen to be a proper place for those with pessimistic or superior attitudes where we happen to love them! Don’t they make marvelous characters in a book? Don’t you love reading about these irritating miserable people in stories? If a reader feels the urge to drive a spike through a character’s brow, it adds spice to the story. It makes that reader feel so relieved that they don’t have to associate with someone like that in real life. Unfortunately, we do meet up with these characters along life’s highway sometimes and how should we react? My advice is not to drive any spikes into anyone’s brow but rather to treat them as characters in your next book!

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/Sharon-Rose/e/B00BL8HTZY/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

Love me as I am…

I was thinking today about all the wonderful friends I have right now and those I’ve had throughout the years. It’s quite amazing how people become good friends. Who chooses whom? Do you know what I mean? I have met women that within minutes, I knew we would be friends. There is this certain chemistry which is hard to explain. It goes beyond what we have in common because I have absolutely nothing in common with some of my best friends. I enjoy their differences and for some unknown reason, they enjoy mine. Go figure!

I have friends who suffer from depression but we are able to laugh together. One friend happens to be a big-time hypochondriac and when we get together, we share our aches and pains. She knows the name of every brand of medication from the cure for headaches to the diet for diverticulosis. If I’m not feeling well, she is the one who shows the most empathy.

Four years ago, I met up with my first roommate after many years of not seeing each other or keeping in touch. We shared the attic suite in an old house back in 1963! What did we do when we got together? We laughed and acted like we were twenty again. It was so easy to pick up where we left off.

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Ah, but what is the connection to writing? It is wonderful to write about friends. The two main characters in my Parson Cove mystery series are best friends – lifelong friends. And, they are as opposite as chalk and cheese.

As lovely as it would be to write solely about the fun and enjoyment best friends share, there is always a need for conflict. Believe it or not, a book gets quite boring if everything is always hunky-dory. So, we need to create a character that stirs our emotions in other ways. If we’re writing a mystery, we obviously don’t want to end up loving the killer and feeling disappointed when he or she gets caught. We might love them at the beginning of a story but as the story unfolds, we have to see some characteristics that we don’t particularly like. We also have to see the imperfections in the good characters; otherwise it would be too easy to pick out who ‘did it.’

No matter how wonderful we think people are, we know we all have our shortcomings. For example, Mabel Wickles, my protagonist in my cozy mystery series, even irritates me sometimes. Why is she so snoopy? Why does she get herself into such dangerous situations? And then, there’s Flori Flanders – why does she cry over every little thing?

And my wonderful friends? They are also imperfect – just like me! I am forever grateful that they overlook my shortcomings and love me as I am.

http://authorsdb.com/breaking-news/21110-the-widow-s-walk

Dead Lines… and Stuff

As you can tell by the subject, we are going to discuss something that mystery writers talk about all the time. After all, we solve murders, right? This usually involves a dead body. Of course, there are other ‘dead’ names for dead bodies. For example, dead duck.
We usually are not referring to a literal duck when we say that, we are talking about someone who just breathed his last. Perhaps, your protagonist witnesses a man trying to escape out of a twenty-first floor balcony; he falls to his death, and she says, “Boy, he’s gotta be a dead duck!”
Because he is dead, the cop at the scene says, with a deadpan face, ‘Someone help me pick him up; he’s a dead weight.” Well, of course, he is because he is a dead body. As soon as he ran onto the balcony, he knew it was a dead end and there was nowhere else to go – only down, falling through dead air.
However, your sleuth has some solving to do. How did the killer get into the room in the first place when the door was locked with … you guessed it – a deadbolt? Do you think his ex-wife coerced him to come there because he was a deadbeat dad? When he opened the door and walked in, she aimed dead center at his heart; however, it was a dead heat and he aimed and hit and she aimed and missed.
The irony of this whole story is that the deadbeat dad sent his twin brother to knock off his ex-wife and since they were dead ringers of each other, she shot at the wrong man. The deadbeat dad then bolted the dead lock so his brother couldn’t escape. The deadbeat dad, however, could escape. He fled to Deadwood, South Dakota, and from there caught a plane to the Mediterranean where he is now relaxing beside the Dead Sea.
As you see, we use the word ‘dead’ quite often in our English language. (I refuse to say that’s because it’s not a dead language). In fact, I wasn’t even going to talk about all the words that include ‘that’ word. All I originally wanted to do was talk about deadlines! And the reason I wanted to was because I knew my turn was coming up to write my blog and I couldn’t think of a thing to say. Well, I still can’t but it seems I’ve filled up the page anyway. That’s what a deadline will do. It makes you panic and write.

I’m pleased to say that my second Historical Fiction book, The Widow’s Walk, is now available on Kindle. Please check out my other books – six Parson’s Cove Cozy Mysteries, Virtual Enemies, and Sarah’s Valley.
My website is http://www.sharonrosemierke.weebly.com
I am also on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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