Monthly Archives: September 2011
Novel Reaction is excited to welcome author Bernadette Pajer.
Seattle author Bernadette Pajer is a graduate of the Interdisciplinary Arts and Science program of the University of Washington, Bothell. Publisher’s Weekly called Pajer’s A SPARK OF DEATH, The First Professor Bradshaw Mystery, a “deft, highly entertaining debut” and Judith Reveal of the NY Journal of Books said A SPARK OF DEATH is a “breathless journey from beginning to end.” Research is Pajer’s favorite activity, and she happily delves into Seattle’s past and the early days of electrical invention as she plots Professor Bradshaw’s investigations.
Nowadays children have no respect for their parents. Nowadays, it’s not safe to be on the streets at night. Nowadays, you’re better off burying your money in the backyard. I always sigh when I hear someone belittle nowadays, and laugh when they glorify the past. Oh, it’s true each stretch of time had its good qualities we wish we’d retained. Like dressing up. Nowadays (oops, did it myself), people think nothing of going to the store wearing old sweats and slippers. It used to be folks dressed nice whenever they went out in public. Heck, even the bums on the street in the 1920′s wore suits! Not clean suits, but still.
There are two things I always remind myself about nowadays and back-then. One is the tendency societies have to, if you’ll pardon a cliché, throw the baby out with the bath water. For instance, the expectations of proper dress could be extremely oppressive, especially for women. Dressing the part of the dutiful housewife June Cleaver-style signified the proper place of a mother in the home, keeping a perfect house, serving a husband. For many women, this was not a dream but a nightmare of unfulfilled ambition buried under an endless pile of dishes. Along came the 60′s and 70′s and women’s liberation. The rigid dress code was tossed out, expectations of women’s abilities and choices expanded. Positive progress! And yet – we lost a few good things. Dressing appropriately in public places, for instance. Have you seen the website “the people of Walmart?” Brace yourself. And while being what we now call a “stay-at-home mom” isn’t for every woman (do you hear how belittling that term is?), it is certainly a noble and worthwhile choice that deserves as much respect as any other.
As for back-then, well, most things people miss about back-then never existed for the majority of the population. We look fondly back at a certain strata of the middle class of each generation and see cozy cottages, disciplined children, wholesome food, respectful manners. If such idyllic conditions ever truly existed (with no arguing, no abusive spouses, no misbehaved children, no alcoholism or drug abuse, no oppression, no illness, no war??) then they did for only those who could afford to create this ideal. The very poor have always had to struggle to survive by any means necessary, and the very rich make their own rules. Some of the wickedest people that ever existed put up a social screen of pure respectability.
As an historical mystery writer, I love to delve into the past. My favorite discoveries are of issues we usually associate with nowadays, not back-then. I’ve learned that 1901, the year my mystery series begins, and today have many similarities. The United States had soldiers fighting in foreign lands (Cuba, the Philippines, China) and many were coming home physically and emotionally wounded. Our military presence abroad was hotly debated. Some commercial food, pharmaceuticals, and beauty products were tainted, falsely labeled, even deadly. Newspapers were influenced by lucrative contracts with advertisers and stories slanted for political or personal agendas. Every daily paper reported shootings, suicides, theft. Swindlers stole the life-savings of innocent investors. The eeriest similarity came in September of 1901, when President McKinley was shot by an anarchist. The nation was shocked. People pulled together, friends and family turned to each other for comfort. Everyday life for many took on an unsettled quality as they awaited news of the president’s fate. When McKinley died eight days after the shooting, the nation mourned, theaters and music halls temporarily closed, and communities gathered for memorial services. If anyone dared say a word against the late president, they were berated and threatened. Effigies of anarchists were hung by the neck in prominent places. Like the September of 2001 one hundred years later, a violent attack triggered shock and fear, bringing out patriotism and ugliness and uncertainty.
But I don’t want to leave this on a somber note. Resilience, ingenuity, and generosity, those qualities were abundant back-then, just like nowadays. Our outer world looks vastly different thanks to the amazing inventions of the early twentieth century that launched us into the modern age, but our inner worlds haven’t changed. We struggle, we yearn, we love, we hope. We search for meaning, we pray for our children’s future, and we look with wonder at the potential of mankind.
Thanks Bernadette for sharing with use about the differences and the similarities between historical and contemporary mysteries. I agree that regardless of the time period that a novel is set motivations and people are the same but the time setting can impact how the story flows and ebbs. You can read an excerpt of Bernadette’s A Spark of Death here.
Novel Reaction is excited to welcome author Debby Guisti here to share with us the importance of weather and location on the setting of a mystery novel.
Debby Giusti is a medical technologist who loves working with test tubes and petri dishes almost as much as she loves to write. Growing up as an Army Brat, Debby met and married her husband–then a Captain in the Army–at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Together they traveled the world, raised three Army Brats of their own and have now settled in Atlanta, Georgia where Debby spins tales of suspense that touch the heart and soul.
Debby’s work has won numerous awards, including the Daphne du Maurier Award for Inspirational Suspense, the National Readers’ Choice Award, the Golden Quill, the Beacon, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence and the Write Touch. In addition to full-length fiction, Debby has written magazine articles for Southern Lady, Woman’s World, Our Sunday Visitor, Army and Family, and served for over twelve years on the editorial advisory board of ADVANCE for Administrators of the Laboratory.
It Was a Dark and Stormy Night!
By Debby Giusti
It was a dark and stormy night. Anyone familiar with Charles M. Schulz’s cartoon strip, Peanuts, will recall the opening line of Snoopy’s Great American Novel. Although his writing career never blossomed, the loveable pooch did understand the importance of establishing the setting at the beginning of his book. Take a dark and stormy night, add rumbling thunder and bolts of lightning that expose an old Victorian house badly in need of repair and you’ve got a suspense story waiting to be written.
Any author worth her weight in typing paper knows the importance of anchoring the reader at the onset of the story. In a suspense novel, time of day, weather, location and a mix of details hand selected by the writer weave together into a chilling setting that keeps the reader turning the page. Take the unsuspecting hero or heroine from their ordinary world and drop them smack dab in the middle of an escalating problem–whether manmade or an act of God—to build reader anticipation and drive home the point that something sinister is about to happen.
Blue skies and sunshine are saved until the end when everything works out. After all, the hero and heroine deserve a happily ever after. By the close of the book, they’ve survived a series of life-threatening dangers in an ominous setting that grows worse on every page.
In THE OFFICER’S SECRET, my May release from Love Inspired Books, the story opens with a middle-of-the-night summons that forces my heroine to drive through a storm to a military post she vowed never to visit again. I added a set of quarters surprisingly similar to her house of old, a corpse in the attic and a secret, which causes the heroine to dig deep into her past to uncover the reason an officer died.
THE CAPTAIN’S MISSION, on sale in October, begins when a military training accident turns deadly. The smell of cordite and smoke permeate the dirt-clogged air and paint the desolate terrain in an eerie veil of gloom. The company commander hero and criminal investigation division special agent heroine are caught in a deadly trap that leads to a mountain campsite where uncovering the truth almost costs them their lives.
My tenth book, THE COLONEL’S DAUGTHER, will be in bookstores next August. The story commences with a summer storm and a murder victim. To up the stakes, I tossed in a deserted cemetery, a desecrated gravestone and a serial killer on the loose. An explosive ending leads to redemption and reunion and a resolution that should satisfy even the most difficult to please.
Whether hurricanes, tornadoes or torrential rains, a mountain cabin or oceanfront condo, high noon or midnight, a well-crafted combination of details sets the stage in which a story can unfold. In a suspense novel, that setting needs to be filled with intrigue and fraught with peril to draw the reader into the danger and keep her on the edge of her seat until The End.
I hope you’ll visit my website and consider reading one of my books. Leave a comment and the names of your favorite suspense stories and the types of settings that capture your fancy to be included in a drawing for my October Love Inspired Suspense, THE CAPTAIN’S MISSION.
Happy writing! Happy reading!
Wishing you abundant blessings,
A DEMONSTRATION TURNED DEADLY: When one of his soldiers is killed by live ammunition during what was supposed to be a simple training exercise, Captain Phil Thibodeaux wants answers. Even if it means working with the Criminal Investigation Division that seems certain to pin the blame on him. But after CID agent Kelly McQueen defends his conduct, Phil realizes that there’s more to the dedicated agent than meets the eye. Maybe she’s someone he can trust, after all. And he’ll need someone to rely on as investigations lead him to doubt everyone else—even his own soldiers.
You can read an excerpt here.
Thank you Debby for sharing with us about setting. I have to admit since moving to the extreme desert and living with the fear that in the heat of the sizzling summer I could easily die of dehydration I pay more attention to setting than I previously did in novels. As stated above Debby is giving away a copy of her October release The Captain’s Mission, which is the second book in the Military Investigations Series.
To be entered to win leave a commentthe names of your favorite suspense stories and the types of settings that capture your fancy to be included in a drawing for Debby’s October Love Inspired Suspense. The contest will close September 29th at midnight. This contest is limited to US and Canadian residents only (sorry Internationals, I promise I will have a contest for you soon).
Margaret gets you straight into this story by chapter one. Once you read this book, you will not be able to put it down. Kyra Morgan has her own business, which is why she is Flamenco Bay to get some relaxation and sun. She has been so busy doing her business thing, that she really needs some time in the sun and not thinking about work or all that it entails.
As she is enjoying the quietness of the beach, a body comes to her and tells here that a man is after them. Kyra grabs her gun and chases after where they were. She comes across a young woman who isn’t hurt but is very upset and she takes off running. She continues chase but losses him in the swamp. As she returns to the original crime scene, she sees her once secret crush working as a doctor., Michael It turns out that Michael’s sister is one of the survivors and know what is going on.
As Kyra starts along this journey of trying to help Michael find his baby sister, Amy. Kyra will do anything to get Amy and her friend Laurie away from the bad men and help them get resolved what needs to be. It turns out that Amy, Laurie, and their boyfriends saw something that they should’ve. The guy is willing to kill them and all connected to them to keep this a secret.
As the heat crakes up on this case, so does the connection between Kyra and Michael. Can this throw them together or will they both wind up dead?
I loved this story. I finished it in a day and felt that all the issues I had built, had been resolved, I did NOT read the end of this book first, although it I did die a little inside. I would recommend this story to so many people. It was clean and fun and something that everyone could read! Enjoy!
You can read an excerpt here.
Guardian Inc. Series:
Title: Hidden in the Everglades
Author: Margaret Daley
Format: Paperback, eBook
Page Nos.: 216
Publisher: Steeple Hill
Release Date: Sept. 6, 2011
**I received a copy of this book from the publisher but was not required to provide a review and it did not impact my review in any way.
Novel Reaction is excited to welcome Rhys Bowen.
Rhys Bowen is a transplanted Brit who now divides her time between California and Arizona where she goes to escape the harsh California winters. She has been a professional writer all her life, moving from plays with the BBC in London, to books for children and young adults and finally to her real love, mysteries.
She began her mystery career with the Constable Evans series, set in her mother’s family’s native Wales, and has since moved on to two spunky heroines: Molly Murphy whose stories take place in 1900s New York City and Lady Georgiana, the penniless minor royal in 1930s England, whose Royal Spyness stories have become best sellers.
Rhys’s books have so far garnered 11 major awards out of 25 nominations.
Rhys also writes award-winning short stories when she can find the time to breathe. She enjoys touring for her books and meeting fans around the country.
Wearing More Than One Hat
Mystery Author Rhys Bowen Author of the Royal Spyness Series
As a writer I am called upon to wear more than one figurative hat. One minute I’m sitting focused at my desk, writing away to meet a deadline, living in a world that is not my own reality/ The next I’m required to get dressed in my “famous author” clothes and go out to speak to people about my books, to entertain them, make them laugh and essentially to sell my books. These require completely different personality types, don’t they? Silent, focused, shut away, in another world…and then witty, sparkling, elegant and charming among crowds of people.
I’m actually a people person so the second half is easier for me than the first. I find it hard to stay focused. I know I have to write. I know I have 30 pages to complete the book, and yet I’m checking Facebook, blogs, my emails, deciding it would be nice to take a long soak in the tub. I’ll get to my writing becuase I force myself but I never want to get started. Once I’m working I keep going until I’m finished for the day, but getting started–my, that’s hard.
And on hats–I never was much of a hat person. I have a small head and hats tend to look–well, stupid. But since I’ve been promoting the Royal Spyness books, I’ve been wearing a lot of lovely hats. I made the mistake of taking a very regal hat on tour with me last year. It was too big for my suitcase so I had to hand carry it through all those security checks. Learned that lesson. But on this tour I was at Powells Books in Portland (wonderful, wonderful store!) and they had a tower of hats (just what you’d expect to find in a bookstore, right?) Among them were some vintage looking hats.