Friday, September 28, 2012

But honey, it's not real!

 by Nancy Jill Thames

As authors, we are able to take great liberty with our characters - what they look like, their back stories and how they act. In my upcoming novel, "Waiting for Santa," Jillian Bradley has a couple of romantic interludes, which is a departure from most of the previous books. When my husband read those sections he became jealous, as if he pictured me involved with the love interests! Now, I do admit to basing some of my protagonist's character traits on myself - hair color, being a gardening and art affectionado, and of course one who serves afternoon tea. But the stories are not real! He says, "I feel like punching him when..." Sorry I can't tell you what made him say this because that would be a spoiler. Further on in his reading he said, "Your readers are going to eat this up!" Well, I certainly hope so because that's the whole point! Writing fiction is the most fun of all simply because we create stories that we'd like to really happen. Hmm. Maybe my husband will get a few ideas! I've been taking care of grand kids this week in California while he's reading the book for the first time, but when I return home it will be interesting to see if he treats me any differently. Maybe I ought to say, "But honey, it can be real." "Waiting for Santa" is the sixth book in the Jillian Bradley mysteries due out at the end of November. Do you every try out ideas you read about in books?

Nancy Jill Thames is the author of the Jillian Bradley Mysteries - Her mysteries incorporate her love of afternoon tea, which has earned her the title of “Queen of Afternoon Tea.” She holds a music degree from UT Austin and lives in Leander, Texas where she is a member of the Leander Writers Guild. She has won awards for her blogs,  a pie contest for her Chip Chocolate Cream Pie, and has been on the Author Watch Bestseller List numerous times. Nancy Jill is busy working on book 6 "Waiting for Santa," a murder mystery taking place on Christmas Eve near Jillian Bradley’s home in Clover Hills.

To check out her books, Murder in Half Moon Bay, The Ghost Orchid Murder, From the Clutches of Evil, The Mark of Eden, and Pacific Beach, please visit the Cozy Book Store and her blogs: 
Cozy Mystery Author, Nancy Jill Thames
"Queen of Afternoon Tea" Celebrity Author Interviews

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Versus--by Linda Kozar

Like many writers, I enjoyed creative writing projects as a child. I wrote a story in second grade about a little girl who fancied living with her bumblebee friend inside a beautiful yellow daffodil. One day, her wish was granted by a kind fairy, and she diminished in size until she fit into the cup of the yellow daffodil she'd admired. Tah-dah! That was it. Short and sweet, but never to be a bestseller.

Thankfully, I've learned a lot more about writing over the years. I've learned about character arcs, plot developments and conflict. Did you know that a story can't really succeed without conflict? Why? Because conflict keeps a story moving forward. Without it a story is just plain boring.

So let's talk conflict! Below are the six main types:

  1. Man against man--a conflict between two people (protagonist vs antagonist)
  2. Man against nature--in addition to the conflict between the pro and ant-agonist, throw in a natural disaster of some sort
  3. Man against self--the internal or psychological struggle (fear, revenge, addiction etc.)
  4. Man against supernatural--unbelievable, unexplained phenomena in conflict with the character
  5. Man against society--a character at odds or at war with society, mechanical threats, etc.
  6. Man against destiny--struggle against a predetermined fate
Man against Man--Your hero's struggle against the villain. Right versus wrong. Good versus evil.  There's nothing mysterious about that.

Man against Nature--Ernest Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea," is a great example of man against nature. Any story involving storms, earthquakes and other natural disasters or dangers (sharks, for instance) would qualify. Moby Dick is another good example of Man versus nature.

Man against Self--Can't help thinking of a wonderful mystery series on television. Monk battled his own crippling fears and phobias. He was his own worst enemy as a detective, but he always got the job done and always got his man, or woman.

Man against Supernatural--Van Helsing's battle against Count Dracula is a classic example. The movie "Ghost" is another good one. Frank Peretti's "This Present Darkness" too!

Man against Society--Ray Bradberry's Farhenheit 451novel is a prime example of man's revolutionary spirit against a society that has rejected books and intellect.

Man against Destiny--Jason Bourne. Yes, Jason Bourne of The Bourne Supremacy. He was reassigned a new life, a different life where he was conditioned to live and behave in a manner not of his choosing. Created to be a highly-trained pawn in a high stakes game, he revolted against the destiny forced upon him. The whole movie is about the struggle to overcome this destiny that will either end with all those in control dying or Jason Bourne dying.

I hope this short tutorial on conflict helps if you're trying to put a story together. Remember--keep the action moving forward, keep it interesting and keep writing.

Linda Kozar is the co-author of Babes With A Beatitude—Devotions For Smart, Savvy Women of Faith (Hardcover/Ebook, Howard/Simon & Schuster 2009) and author of Misfortune Cookies (Print, Barbour Publishing 2008), Misfortune Cookies, A Tisket, A Casket, and Dead As A Doornail, (“When The Fat Ladies Sing Series,” eBooks, Spyglass Lane Mysteries, 2012). Her latest novel Strands of Fate releases in October 2012 (Creative Woman Mysteries). She received the ACFW Mentor of the Year Award in 2007, founded and served as president of Writers On The Storm, a local ACFW chapter for three years. In 2003, she co-founded, co-directed and later served as Southwest Texas Director of Words For The Journey Christian Writers Guild. She and her husband Michael, married 23 years, have two lovely daughters, Katie and Lauren and a Rat Terrier princess named Patches.

Represented by: Wendy Lawton, Books & Such Literary Agency

Member of: CAN (Christian Authors Network), RWA (Romance Writers of American), WHRWA (West 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tools For Publishing - Part Two


1.      Establish A Website: Once your book is contracted and by the time it shows up in online bookstores, you should have a website – preferably one with your author name as the URL,( so that readers can easily find you. Use Google blogspot for free and pay only for the URL.

2.      Start A Blog:  I’ve discovered blogging and reviewing books is a great way to get your name out in the world of writing. You can build a following before you have your book published. If possible use your author name as your URL. Interviews and book giveaways are a great way to draw traffic to your blog. You can use Google or Wordpress for free

3.      Start An Author Facebook Page:  If you start an author page as opposed to a personal page it allows followers to connect with you without having to wait for a friend approval. You can post book news, awards, and book signings.

4.      Get An Updated Author Photo:  This doesn’t have to be a high-priced photograph, but make sure it is updated and of good quality. It won’t hurt to have a couple of different shots.

5.      Set Up Accounts On Reader Sites:  There is a great opportunity in this area. You can sign up at, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and Shelfari. Then when your book is published you can set up author pages and list your book and your information.

6.       Get Business Cards, Postcards and Bookmarks:  Vista Print offers great prices on these items. You can get your business cards before your book comes out – be sure and put your picture on your card. Someone might not remember your name, but they will remember your face. If you place a small order with Vista Print they will send you discount cards with that order then you can place future orders at a greatly reduced price.

I made my own bookmarks out of heavy duty paper and saved a lot of money. Don’t forget the book I mentioned earlier “Stress Fee Marketing” by Renea Winchester, it includes a lot of detailed information on these marketing strategies.
Deborah has worked as a freelance writer and photographer, since 2001, for the historical magazine “Georgia Backroads.” She has had many articles and photographs published during this time. Her writing is featured in “Tales of the Rails” edited by Olin Jackson. She has also had a showing of her photographs at Floyd Medical Center Art Gallery as well as winning several awards. Her debut cozy mystery "Death in Dahlonega", a winner in the ACFW Category Five Writer's Contest, is now available.
She is a current member of the Georgia Writers Association, and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Deborah has been nomiated for Georgia Author of the Year 2012. She has an established blog, Butterfly Journey, where she reviews Christian Fiction. You can also catch her at Sleuths and Suspects, where she reviews mysteries. She also contributes to the Cozy Mystery Magazine every other Tuesday.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Taking It Easy

by Nancy Jill Thames

My post today is a request. I'm having heart issues and need to rest so please keep me in your thoughts & prayers.  I'm going to watch my three grandchildren all next week. Thank you! I sincerely appreciate it, dear friends. Have a lovely weekend.

~Nancy Jill

Thursday, September 20, 2012

You Know Miss Marple Never Had These Problems

Oh this is going to get ugly
Keeping on the theme this week of linking mysteries with food I thought I would put in my two cents worth. Seems to me that a lot of us here have single women as our detectives, but all the recipes seem to be for a large number of people. So my question is anybody got any ideas for one person? I’ll even go for two, I can do leftovers.
Okay I’m going to admit to something here, I am a spinster. What is that you ask? Well basically it’s a woman of a certain age who has never been married. Never mind what age, remember I’m into the Great-Aunt category. Now my Mom used the term Old Maid, but she was married with kids so she doesn’t get a vote. Also I’m somewhat cooking challenged. I understand the mechanics, but I’m not in love with the process. I’m also not creative in the kitchen, not a good result when I try, so basic works best.
Now why am I asking this question? Well it seems that recipes and one person do not go together very often.
Think I’m exaggerating? Take a look at most recipes and notice that a serving of four is about as low as you can go. You could try to cut the recipe down, which can be problematic. Ever try to half an egg?  Of course there’s always freezing, which is a great idea except after a couple of recipes you’re out of storage dishes and freezer space, not to mention eating the same thing over and over for a few nights. 
Fresh fruits and vegetables can also be a problem because if you don’t have a specific plan in mind they go bad real fast and wasting money is something no one can cannot afford to do.  I recognize meal planning is required here, but again you run across the storage problem.
So eating healthy for one person can be a challenge, something I am definitely including in my books seeing that my two main characters are single and all. Okay, okay I admit it. This post has two purposes, one for plots, but more importantly because I like to eat and eating out is expensive.
I know Miss Marple never had these troubles, but then she always had a maid.
That's fiction for you.

Mystery writer C.L. Ragsdale is the author of The Reboot Files a Christian Mystery Series. A California native, she loves to "surf" the web to research plot details for her fun, quirky stories with just a bit of whopper in them. She has a degree in Theatre Arts which greatly influenced her writing style. Working in various fields as a secretary has allowed her to both master her writing skills and acquire valuable technical knowledge which she uses liberally in her plots. She loves to embroider and knit and is a big fan of the old Scooby Doo cartoons.
Current E-Books
THE REBOOT FILES:  The Mystery of Hurtleberry House, The Island of Living Trees, The Harbinger of Retribution, and The Wrong Ghost.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Jalapeno Popper Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Just got back from a biz trip, so we'll pick up with our series on the dreaded rules of writing next week. 

Jalapeno Popper Stuffed Chicken is an easy dish overall. Prep requires a little more work than usual because you need to prepare the chicken breasts by pounding them flat and toast the panko crumbs ahead of time.

2 tsp. taco seasoning mix

1/2 cup panko
2 tsp. canola oil
Add oil to skillet. Saute panko crumbs until toasted and golden. Remove from heat and toss with taco seasoning.
Preheat oven to 375.
1 egg
2 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (we used 2%)
1-2 jalapeño peppers, seeds and ribs removed, minced (for more heat, leave in a few seeds)
2 chicken breasts
Combine the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and jalapeños. In separate bowl, crack egg and whisk lightly
Pound chicken breast flat until they are a consistent thickness (this helps them to cook more evenly). Divide cream cheese mixture between breasts (see pic) and roll the chicken around the mixture. Use toothpicks to secure.
Dunk each breast into egg, then panko crumbs, covering completely, and place on shallow dish covered with aluminum foil sprayed lightly with oil. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until juices of chicken run clear when pierced with fork. Don't overcook or chicken will be dry.