Category Archives: Blog Hopping

Meet Susan Van Kirk & Calamity Barnstable

I first “met” author Susan Van Kirk through Sisters in Crime Guppies. I was looking for an editor before sending The Hanged Man’s Noose out into the world, and Susan recommended Lourdes Venard, who she’d been working with. I ended up hiring Lourdes (find her at Comma Sense Editing) and I credit Lourdes in large part for helping me get Noose “ready.”

Today, Susan has three books and one novella out in her Endurance Mystery series, and is hard at work on a new series. She was kind enough to host Calamity Barnstable, the protagonist in Skeletons in the Attic, recently on her blog:

My name is Calamity Doris Barnstable and I was named after Calamity Jane, a Wild West frontierswoman of dubious repute, although to be fair, my mother actually named me after the considerably softened version of Calamity Jane played by Doris Day in the 1950s. Honestly…if you want to have a good laugh, you need to check out this YouTube video clip from the movie, where Doris sings Secret Love. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fU8tQpCZEzg

Be that as it may, no one calls me Calamity and gets away with it. I’m Callie, and this is my story.

To read the rest of this post, click here.

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Writing Cozy Mysteries With An Edge

This week, I thought I’d share a “Coffee Chat” post that first appeared on AllyShields.com. For those of you unfamiliar with Ally, she’s the author of 13 Urban Fantasy novels, which you can read about on this link.

Here’s the beginning of my interview with Ally:

Ally: What will readers discovered when they open the cover of your book?

JPS:  An amateur sleuth with an edge: there’s the requisite small town, no overt sex, violence or bad language, but there are also no cats, crafts or cookie recipes.

Ally:  Talk about your writing process. Schedule, goals, etc.

JPS:  After I finish a book, it takes me a couple of months to get back to another one. I want to get right back at it, but I feel emotionally drained. I’ll dabble, play around with short stories, but a book just seems too daunting. And then, gradually, the voices come back to me, and I know it’s time to start again. Once I get going in earnest, I try to write every day, including Sundays and holidays, even if it’s only for a few stolen minutes, though my goal is always to write a chapter a day. I try to leave each chapter with a bit of a hook, so I’m keen to come back the next day (and hopefully, I’m creating something that makes readers want to keep turning the pages). My first draft takes three to four months. I do edit as I go along, so my first drafts are pretty clean, but they are by no means polished enough to submit to a publisher. The magic is in the revision… you can’t edit a blank page.

Ally:  How do you choose and name your characters?

JPS:  It depends. With Emily Garland (the protagonist in The Hanged Man’s Noose: A Glass Dolphin Mystery), my favorite childhood book was Emily Climbs by L.M. Montgomery (of Anne of Green Gables fame). Emily Starr of New Moon wanted to grow up to be a writer, and I wanted that, too. It seemed only fitting to name the protagonist in my first book Emily. And I was named after Judy Garland.
In Skeletons in the Attic: A Marketville Mystery, the protagonist is Calamity (Callie) Barnstable. In my day job, I’m the Senior Editor of New England Antiques Journal and I’d just read about some old photographs of Calamity Jane, a Wild West frontierswoman, that had come to auction. And I thought… Calamity, that’s a great name, Callie for short. Initially, I thought Callie Barnes, but somewhere along the line I added the ‘table.’
Another character in Skeletons is Leith Hampton, the lawyer who tells Callie about her inheritance. He started life as Craig Leith (there is a town in Ontario, Canada, called Craigleith), but I couldn’t warm to it. Then I thought, Leith as a first name would work, and Hampton, like the Hamptons in New York, sounded like a good surname for a well-heeled lawyer.
I keep a notebook of possible name ideas – I watch end credits on TV shows and movies and might get a first or last name from those. Then I couple it with something that fits the character I’m writing about.

To read more of this post click here: http://allyshields.com/blog/cozy-mysteries-with-an-edge

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Researching Tarot

For my final post in 2017, I’m reblogging my December 21st post that originally appeared on Kristina Stanley’s blog. Here’s the intro…

If you’ll pardon the pun, tarot was never in the cards when I began writing Skeletons in the Attic. I knew I’d have a protagonist, Calamity (Callie) Barnstable, who would be thrust into the position of finding out what happened when her mother disappeared thirty years earlier. I knew she’d be a fish out of water, a big city Toronto woman heading to Marketville, a town she described as the sort of place a family with two kids, a cat and a collie moved to. I even knew there was a scheming psychic, Misty Rivers, ready to take on Callie’s assignment if Callie turned it down. But my original thinking was more along the line of a crystal ball and tea leaves. Tarot? Not on the radar.

To read the rest of this post, click here.

 

 

PS: Barking Rain Press has just announced an After Christmas e-book sale. All BRP e-books have been discounted to $3.99. 

 

 

PPS: Two Free Kindle e-Book short story collections for Boxing Week! Free giveaway ends December 30th.

Live Free or Tri: http://authl.it/4ly 

Unhappy Endings: http://authl.it/4sk

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