Fiction Writing and Other Oddities

Monday, April 27, 2009

Last Week of April


Good News (If Any)

I'm initiating queries for a new series of mysteries set in the fictional town of Peyton, NC, situated on the glorious Crystal Coast, an area Blackbeard used to romp around. I've got the first one, Whacked!, written with plans for a linked set of three under development.

My paranormal manuscript has been submitted to my current publisher, The Wild Rose Press. If they like that one, I already have the rough draft of a third one written, with plans for a third under development.

I'm still waiting to hear back from the publisher on a historical mystery I submitted a few months ago, as well as a couple of other submissions.

So, no "good news" per se—and I may be getting a lot of bad news in the way of rejections over the next few months, but hey, it's all in a day's work for a writer. It's comforting to think that even great writers suffer the same humiliation, although I doubt that many of their rejection letters start with "Dear Author".

What I'm Reading Now

The Mercedes Coffin by Faye Kellerman.

Maybe I'm just not in the mood for this or something, but I'm finding the book a little slow going. I mean, when Decker goes to interview a suspect for the third or fourth time and there's still no one home…my interest sort of sags. But I have a couple of brand new books awaiting me, so if I can struggle through to the end, I've got others to look forward to.

What I'm Writing Now

I'm trying to decide about writing a historical Christmas novella. Or working on another mystery—either contemporary or historical. Just not sure. That's the problem with having a lot of submissions running around. Once I hear from any of them, I'll know which direction to take.

So maybe I should just write the novella. Although I may also try a short story aimed at the Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine—just for the fun of it.

What—If Any—Thoughts I have

I've been thinking about suspense versus mystery and my own enjoyment of mysteries. Generally, folks indicate that one of the biggest differences between suspense and mystery is the knowledge of who the villain is. Although if you use that definition, Columbo would be suspense instead of mystery, because you always knew who the murderer was—it was just whether Columbo could catch him (or her) or not.

But I think there's another important factor in mystery, and that is motive. These days, suspense frequently features a serial killer as the villain, and the motive is dismissed as something as trivial as: he's a sociopath; he doesn't like women with blonde hair; he had a bad childhood; or…just because he's bad. Sigh. Maybe that's why I'm not that into suspense. The motive isn't all that important.

With a mystery, even if I know who the villain turns out to be, I still want to know why and how. The motive and method are almost—or more—important than the who. In fact, the why is what is keeping me reading The Mercedes Coffin. I just want to know the motive.

And it's motive that fascinates me enough to write mysteries. Because I'm always trying to work out: what would force a person into a position where he (or she) thinks murder is the only answer? Why doesn't the person just walk away? (Which is, frankly, what I would do—I can't imagine what would make me kill someone—unless he was actually attacking me. I'm more of a walk-away-&-never-to-speak-to-you-again person.)



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