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Friday, August 14, 2015

How to Write A Book

How do you write a book?

Okay, I will tell you.

Suppose you are driving a car from New York to L.A.. You are having a great time, riding by yourself, you stop anywhere you want, you linger here and there. Then in Chicago, you pick up a rider. The person you picked up is your reader. You drop down and swoop them up, and set them down smack in the middle of  someone's life in the middle of his/her day.  The trip we are on will be represented by the car and driver and those we pick up along the way
Image result for IMAGES i CAN COPY OF AN OLD CAR, cartoon
Now, I have a reader and a story. I'm back on the road to LA.  I can no longer travel at any speed I want. I need to keep moving. If I don't go fast enough, the rider will think I am boring and want to get out. Oh, Oh, too slow. She is getting antsy. Maybe there is something on TV. I had better take this road over here with all the twists and turns. I bet my rider would rather hold on for dear life than meander along uninterested by the countryside.

Look, there is a gorgeous red-head standing by the side of the road. She has on a blue dress that doesn't cover much. I wonder if she realizes how low cut the bodes is?I can almost she her, oh, never mind. I will pick her up and make her the runaway mistress of the local drug lord.

Jeez, there he is, we had better outrun him.  It's a shame he's so damn good-looking. Too cute to shoot.

Let's stop and eat. Stopping to eat represents your "backstory".  The backstory is the part of the book that tells you what you need to know about the drug lord and the damsel in distress, before you picked them up.  I always take the drive through and grab a sandwich. It doesn't pay to have a five course meal. We are back on the road with as little interruption of our trip (current story) as possible.

We need some peripheral characters, maybe a weird grandmother who whoops the big handsome drug dealer into shape once in a while or makes him help her with Sunday dinner. Could be a toy poodle he loves but doesn't want anyone to know he has. If he isn't human, why would we care if he and she get together?

Oh, man, I ran a stop sign. I bet I get a ticket. The answer here is to know the rules of the road. How do you learn them? There are hundreds of ways. Chicago Book of Style will help , as well as reading or studying grammar. Use your spell check and have a writing program that edits your work.

The other thing I need to get across country is gas. I have to fuel up to keep going. It's not hard to get petrol. There are stations everywhere. There are writer's groups, seminars on writing, conferences, classes at the library, mentors, people who love to read and the list goes on and on.

So, I wanted to go from New York to LA. I thought the idea for the trip was interesting enough to take someone with me. I made the riders as interesting as I could so I wouldn't get bored on the ride. I bought fuel when I needed it and ate when I couldn't stand it any longer and had to stop.

We are in LA. Now what? There are so many answers to that question and you didn't ask me how to sell a book, just how to write one. More later.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Food and Fads.

I try to stay up on the current health food ideas. This one has been around for a long time. It is the benefits of cinnamon. Everywhere I look, there is another article on your health and cinnamon.

The new one is cinnamon and honey. Have one tablespoon of honey with one teaspoon of cinnamon three times a day and all of your health problems with disappear within three weeks. Do you believe it? The first thing I did was look up the health claims of honey. Wow! There are hundreds, maybe even thousands. Here are the top ten: Boosts your energy...Reduces muscle fatigue...Regulates blood sugar...Treats coughs...Heals wounds and cuts...Beats insomnia...Good for your skin...reduces your weight and Improves digestion.

Is that great or what? I say it is. There aren't really any bad side affect of this sweet bee nectar so long as you are above two years of age, but remember, sugar is sugar so don't get carried away. Now let's talk about cinnamon. All cinnamon is not created equal. The verdict is still out on the affect cinnamon has on your health but over all, the follow things are widely thought to be true. It is rich in antioxidants, a natural anti-inflammatory, helps regulate blood sugar. But don't stop reading yet.

 There is more than one kind of cinnamon and if you are going to follow the health gurus such as Dr. Oz and drink a tea or eat cinnamon and honey three times a day ( one tablespoon of honey and one teaspoon of cinnamon) There is Ceylon and Cassia. All of the cinnamon you buy at the grocery store is Cassia. DO NOT USE IT FOR THIS HEALTH REGIMENT it contains high levels of coumarin which can cause liver damage within three weeks. If the bottle or jar doesn't say CEYLON don't bother to buy it.

 Still, does it work? I haven't a clue. I saw it on Dr. Oz and those of you who know me know I can't let anything go until I research it. I drink cinnamon and honey tea a couple times a day, but the problem with anything like this is that nothing beats a good diet with plenty of fruits and veggies and cool clear water. Did I mention how irritated I get at the health food store about the things they sell and people buy because the figure if it is a health food store, the stuff is healthy. NOT. I eat lunch most Sunday's at a health food store. When I am done, I get a chocolate bar. Is it healthy? NO. Neither is the Pops Kettle Corn or about two thousand other things I see every week, including organic Cassia cinnamon.

Do they have a lot of healthy organic food? Absolutely, but remember, no one is looking out for you health but you. See you next time. I can't imagine what will come to mind to talk about by then. Oh yes, one more thing. Another writer told me to try fried cucumbers and I did. Delicious. I used corn meal, a little sugar and an egg and some milk. Milk and an egg in one bowl and then put the slices in the corn meal and fry them in a little olive oil. Something different and tasty. Have a great week.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Pet Peeves

Image result for someone pulling their hair out.Pet Peeves

We all have pet peeves. Mine are annoying and don't bother anyone but me. To someone like me who lives a metaphysical life, okay, TRIES to live a metaphysical life,pet peeves are a pain in the #@$$#.
I know in my heart and mind I should never let these things bother me.

Right now, all of your pet peeves are spinning around in her mind. You are thinking, Jeez, when someone  elses car radio is so loud we can't have a normal conversation in our car, I want to scream. How many more do you have?

Mine are changing Democratic to Democrat, actress to actor, and the misuse of the word myself and me.

Why would I let this ruin my day? Well, I don't, but I do scrunch my eyes together and shake my head.

It is usually a politician, a news anchor, or an expert on some subject, obviously not English or grammar, who makes the mistake. I actually believe it is so misused that soon it will be considered normal usage.

Example: Jim, David and myself went to the fair.
No you didn't. Jim, David and I went to the fair.

Myself and David took the boat for a ride.
No you didn't. David and I took the boat for a ride.

He has red hair, like myself.
No he doesn't. He has red hair like me.

Okay, Let's go over the rule. Take the other nouns out of the sentence. If myself still fits, use it.
Trust me, it won't. Myself took the boat for a ride.
Myself went to the fair.
Okay. I feel better now.
Feel free to leave a comment at the end of this post and let me know what drives you bananas.
We could all use a good laugh.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Finding Lizzy Smith, the First Kate Nash Mystery

My friend Wanda Fittro read my new mystery Finding Lizzy Smith.
She gave me the best compliment a sleuth can have: "I didn't figure it out and the twist at the end was great." Okay, that might not be the exact quote but it is close.
I have been developing, Kate Nash. for a long time. She is my protaganist in Finding Lizzy Smith, the first Kate Nash mystery.
Kate began as a St. Louis homicide detective but quit because her husband was murdered. Kate found herself having so much empathy for the victims families, it hampered her ability to investage the crimes. 
Seven years ago, she and a friend, Amy Perkin, opened a private investagation firm. They were an instant success.
Kate's husband, Michael, and two of her best friends are murdered and one clue at each scene ties the deaths together.
Now, famous artist and friend, Lizzy Smith is missing.
In a series of twists, turns and funny side cases, Kate, her dearest friend and budding love interest, and Amy finally find Lizzy.
You wont believe what actually happened.
Below is Chapter One of Finding Lizzy Smith. Hope you enjoy it.

Finding Lizzy Smith
Chapter One 

The red dot lingered a bit too long on my left breast or I wouldn’t have seen it in the morning sun. In one awkward movement, I jumped, ducked and rolled, ending under the bench where I sat a moment ago. A shot rang out hitting the concrete seat above my head.

“Breathe, Kate, breathe. You’re a detective, you can handle this.” I told myself. My heart beat in my ears. I took a deep breath to calm myself. Jeez, I needed to move. The closest tree looked about thirty yards away.  The laser sight danced around my knee and lower leg, the only part of me not squished out of sight. As small as I am, I couldn’t maneuver any further under the seat.

Someone ran toward me from behind. The laser dot disappeared.

“It’s me. Let’s get out of here.” Ryan Meade ducked down behind me.

 No longer afraid, I let him help me. Together we ran to the nearest tree.

“What’s going on?” He asked.

“Someone shot at me.” I tried to catch my breath and still answer him.

I saw the look of concern on his face.  “Any idea who or why?”

“No. How far are we from your house?”

 “Quarter of a mile at the most. Think you can make it?”

“I’m not hurt, just scared.”  Another shot rang out. It hit the tree below my left hand. The bark exploded and knicked me below my left eye.  Whoever the shooter turned out to be, they either didn’t want to kill me or couldn’t handle the gun.

Ryan took my hand, and we ran full speed. His stride doubled mine so he half- dragged and pulled me along with him.  We zigzagged from tree to bush until we got to the house.

About twenty yards from the garage door, it began to open. He dived under the open door so hard I landed on top of him. He lowered the door. “Did you call the police?”

“No, I was too busy trying to live.” 

“I need to set the alarms and lock the doors.” I had let my body go limp on top of him. Unless I moved, he wasn’t going anywhere.

I rolled over on my back, into an empty space and concentrated on calming down.

Ryan went into the house.

A few minutes later, he walked back into the garage and sat cross-legged on the floor to catch his breath.  I moved over and sat up to lean on the truck behind me.

 “Why were you in the garden?”

“At three-fifteen this morning, I received a message from Lizzy. It said to meet her in your garden at 8 am. The message was marked urgent. I waited an hour and a half, during which time, I called, text and left umpteen messages. I didn’t get an answer.  I just started to leave when someone shot at me. Why were you there?”

He looked amused. “It’s my backyard. I run the jogging path every morning.”

  Meade Park is a public garden owned by the Meade Family Trust which Ryan inherited when his parents died. The park is about forty-five acres. You could enter from the Forest Park on the North or Ryan can get to it from his back yard on the South. It’s the biggest tract of privately owned land within the St. Louis city limits.

“Well, Lizzy’s not the type to make you worry unnecessarily. Any idea what’s up?”

“No, I thought I’d find out this morning when I met with her.  You spend more time with her than I do. When did you last speak to her?”

“A couple of days ago. She’s having a showing at my gallery downtown. We met for dinner to finalize the arrangements. She seemed fine. We were together for hours. I sure didn’t pick up on anything.” Ryan rubbed his hand over his handsome square jaw.

 “Did you see anyone on your run?”

“No. Most people don’t know about the jogging path and those who do prefer Forest Park. This area is pretty isolated.”

Ryan, Lizzy and I had been friends since we attended Northwestern, in Chicago together. Ryan, the orphaned rich kid who treated us like family, Lizzy the art prodigy, and me, the woman who intended to clean up the streets of St. Louis single-handedly. Funny how things work out.

Of the original nine friends, there were seven left. My husband, Michael, died three years ago and Roomy Martin, two years ago. Ryan remained close to all of us, but he and Lizzy and he and I spent a lot of time together. Lizzy and I shared a room for three years in college, but we are as different as Hawaii and Alaska.


Hearing my name brought me back. “Huh, Oh, I’m sorry. Just trying to figure it all out.”

“It’s time you called the police.”

“I’ll call Roger Simon.” Roger and I worked together when I wore a shield. He said he’d take the rooky when I came on the force. For the next six years, we fought crime, rescued people and locked up the bad guys.

Roger came quietly, no sirens or flashing lights to announce his arrival.  We walked him and a couple of his CSI crew back to the garden.  His men spread out. Roger stayed with Ryan and me to take our statements.

 “So your friend emailed you at three this morning?” Roger fished his notebook out of his jacket.

“She sent a text.”

“Do you still have that? I’d like to see it.”

 I showed it to him. Ryan walked around, stood behind him and read over his shoulder. When he handed the phone back he gave me the same speech I had given scared parents and grieving spouses a thousand times when I worked with him.

“Kate, it amounts to this: Anyone over the age of eighteen has a right to go anywhere they want with anyone they wish and they are not obligated to tell anyone about it.”

“I know, if they haven’t shown up in forty-eight hours the family can report them missing. At that time, they go in a stack with the hundreds of missing persons reports filed every month. Then a   detective, who is already overworked, gets the case. Did I cover it all?" I said.

 I found the entire process depressing and counter productive. To find a missing person, you needed to do it fast. The longer they are missing, the slimmer the chance of finding them unharmed. 

  Roger’s men found two .243 casings about two hundred yards from the bench I sat on, and found a slug in the tree we were hiding behind.   A .243 is a common hunting rifle with a range of almost a mile if you could figure the angle of the bullet drop, which most decent hunters could.  Not much hunting in the city, so this rifle represented something entirely different.

I kept scanning my body for the little red dot. The sun rode high in the sky now and a laser sight wouldn’t do anyone much good. It didn’t make me feel any better.

Roger tried to ease the fact he couldn’t help by giving us advice.

 “There aren’t many options right now.  You can check her apartment and usual hangouts, find out who she saw and talked to. If she hasn’t shown in forty- eight hours, I’ll put someone on the case. If you turn something up to make me think this a criminal case, call me. If she turns up, call me.  Otherwise, I’ll talk to you on Saturday. Feel free to use any of my resources you might need.

“As far as who shot at you, it’s hard to tell. We’re in one of the best neighborhoods in the city, but it is only two blocks from one of the worst. It might just be random and have nothing to do with your friend or you. Maybe you looked like a victim sitting alone in a park without a soul around.  You know better, Kate.”

I refused to let him make me feel like a helpless girl. I gave him my best flat-eyed stare, chin on chest, head down, eyes up, unblinking and unfriendly.

 “I‘d better head to the office. I’m sure my partner is ready to call out the National Guard. Oh, but she couldn’t do that for forty-eight hours, could she?”   I turned on my heel and headed to my car. I left it in the parking lot near the handball courts in Forest Park. I immediately felt bad about how I treated Roger. After all, he didn’t make the rules.

Ryan fell into step beside me.

 “Wait up, I’ll walk with you. Today I’ll drop by the gallery. Maybe someone has heard from Lizzy, or better yet, seen her. If I learn anything, I’ll call you.”

“Thanks.” I didn’t have anything to say. In times of stress, I liked to be alone to think. Sometimes things I didn’t realize happened in the moment came to me in the quiet of my office or the car. I felt bad again. After all, Ryan saved my life less than an hour ago. I could at least be civil.

We reached the parking lot and I looked around. The place didn’t have a parking space left. People were driving around in circles waiting for someone to leave. Was one of them the shooter?

Ryan broke into my thoughts.

“Kate, are you going to ignore me forever? Am I only going to have your attention on days you’re being shot at?”

“I’m sorry, Ryan, it isn’t you. You know that don’t you?”

“Yes, but it doesn’t make it any easier.”

“Time, Ryan, I need time.”



Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Wonder who's watching??

One of my writer buddies was doing research on a new book and wanted to know about bombs. Now, this presents a problem because people are watching for bomb makers and disidents of all kinds.

I laughed and laughed because on my hard drive are searches for , how to preserve a body for more than a year, can I kill someone with just a hat pen, and how fast does a body fall from the window of a seventh story building?

Those are only the searches for the past week or so. I added to my prayers, "Don't let anything strange happen to my family members."

Tierney James writes spy thrillers and is always getting into the why and how of the government. She finds strange cars on her street watching her and people she doesn't know calling her by a different name and swearing they met her in California.

Time travel is an interesting search, ask Allison Merritt or Beth Carter who probably knows more about wedding planners than wedding planners.
Image result for Images of books
Lisa Medley reasearchs Reapers, the Grime kind.

And we find it facinating when the fire marshall comes to a meeting of our mystery writers group, Sleuths, Ink, and tells us how to start fires and make it look like an accident.

We loved it the day a criminal defense lawyer came and told us how things really work in an investagation.

I don't want to forget the coroner who shared liver morbitity and body temerature or the policeman who shared what it is like to walk up to a car with strangers in it and ask them why they are weaving all over the road.

If you don't have a writer in your list of friends, you are missing out. We are tall and short and fat and skinny and sexy and not-so-much.

You can not tell a good writer by  looking at her/him. Get off of the best seller list and try some new people. I am always amazed at the talent I get to see because of my connection to this group of creative people.
I am going to list some, If I forgot you, it isn't because I don't think you are great, it's because I can't put everyone down and I haven't read all your books as yet.

So many books and so little time. These people are all on Amazon, just put in their names and take a look. Image result for Images of books

Oh, I will never stop reading Chelsea Cain or Harlan Coben,  but I try to add a new author every month.
If I did not put you on this list, I urge you to comment on this blog with your name and the name of the latest novel or short story you have written.
One, two, three..go!
Wanda Fritto, Lisa Medley, Tierney James, Allison Merritt, Shirley McCann, VJ Schultz, Liz Roberts, Pat Roberston, Cait London and of course you can check me out too.
Thanks. Susan

Monday, March 9, 2015

Image result for images of spring flowersImage result for images of spring flowersImage result for images of spring flowers

Why you should plant flowers!

 Flowers are the first plant ancient man cultivated for himself that he didn't need for survival. Isn't that remarkable?

Since the dawn of man, flowers have held a special place in our hearts. We send them to weddings, funeral, and birthdays. We put them on our tables and talk about their smell and shape. They are remarkable onto themselves.
When the first spring bud peeks its nose out of the frozen ground, we can't help but smile. It reminds of us of the renewal of the promise of warmer weather and the pleasant offerings of the earth.
It is the day I go inside, get out my graph paper and begin plotting my garden.
This year, my goal is to fashion a meditation garden. I think I will put it out front and build a small arbor , cover it with grape vines, put rock from the farm as a floor and benches made of planks with legs of tree trunks. I can picture it, can you?
I will fill it with sayings that lift my spirit, such as Follow your dreams, Be Still and Know and perhaps a few more of my favorites.
These projects have a way of growing and taking on a mind of their own, so I won't make too many plans.
My only sister, Sandra, has a spring birthday. We are getting older now. Her birthday reminds me of spring and my mother. Easter was her favorite time of year. When I see little tufts of new grass, Mom comes to mind.
We didn't get to see our mother as an old lady. She died at the tender age of 64. I had to get a lot older to truly realize how young that is. Young folks look at us and think we are old.
I am here to tell you that I still remember something my mother said. She said, "Susan, I still think the same way I did when I was in my thirties. I still have dreams and desires, same as I had then. When I look it the mirror, I am stunned at this aging woman who looks back at me."
The other day, while looking in the mirror, I realized exactly what she was saying.
So, this is my spring thought for you. Plant a flower, or many flowers this spring. Maybe you could plant them in memory of someone you have lost or someone you may have found along your path.
Happy spring. Enjoy the promise it holds for you.
Not only is each spring a new beginning, but so is each morning.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

I tried to cancel winter

I tried to cancel winter, but it didn't work. The cold, ice and wind keep coming. My goal is to get through the day without complaining about anything.
Let's face it, we are blessed. We have running water, heat, electricity, pets, clean beds, I could go on and on.
Still, we complain.
I tried to imagine living in the homeless camp I saw on TV last night, children without dinner and animals freezing without food and water.  It makes me ashamed when I do complain.

In truth, if we didn't have extremes, we wouldn't have anything to compare things too. If the tempature stayed between 45 and 75 degrees, would we appreciate it? I say NO.

It is human nature to want ideal conditions, but we don't get them.

People who live where it never snows, want to experience snow. Most of the people I talk to here in Missouri say they love the change of seasons, it's what keeps them here.

When I was a kid, I walked everywhere, including to school. We lived outside the city limits. I walked two miles each way in snow, rain, sleet and heat. It was uphill both ways.

Now kids don't walk around their own neighborhoods. We went out in the morning, checked in at lunch, and dinner and were in the house when the street lights came on.

I don't remember winter being cold and dreary, but I'm sure it was.
So what's the point of this essay? None really. Sick of winter, no sun and cabin fever. The dogs are toasty in front of the fireplace, there is plenty of firewood and I can smell red beans and rice on the stove.
Roses, daisies, budding fruit trees and warm sunny days are right around the corner. Spring is 28 days away. 
And , Easter is early this year, April 5th.
Take a minute, say thanks.
Okay, I'm done.