Friday, December 22, 2017

My favorite reads in 2017

I've always meant to keep a list of each and every book I've read. Unfortunately, I've never done that but, thanks to Goodreads, here's the 2017 list of books I read, reviewed and recommend. Some of the books are by authors who were new (to me) this past year but many others are books by authors I've read and enjoyed for years.

Since space wouldn't allow me to post 32 book covers, I closed my eyes and chose three at random.

1. Rhodes The Movie-Maker by M.M. Gornell

2. No Strings Attached by Julie Moffett

3. Among the Wicked by Linda Castillo

4. Hutchin's Creek Cache by Deborah Garner

5. The Tarkington Treasure by Evelyn Cullet

6. Dead, Bath and Beyond by Lorraine Bartlett

7. Phantom Baby by Sharon Love Cook

8. The Swap by Nancy Boyarsky

9. Unexpected by Cindy Blackburn

10. Dying for a Diamond by Cindy Sample

11. Murder Run by Shelly Frome

12. The House on Candlewick Lane by Amy M. Reade

13. The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor by Amy M. Reade

14. No Strings Attached by Julie Moffett

15. Down a Dark Path by Dorothy Bodoin

16. Black Butterfly by Marja McGraw

17. All by Myself, Alone by Mary Higgins Clark

18. Booked for Murder by CeeCee James

19. The Deep End by Julie Mulhern

20. Guaranteed to Bleed by Julie Mulhern

21. Deadly Reservation by CeeCee James

22. The Body in the Wardrobe by Katherine Hall Page

23. Marriage is Pure Murder by Staci McLaughlin

24. War and Peach by Susan Furlong

25. Among the Wicked by Linda Castillo

26. Trimmed with Murder by Sally Goldenbaum

27. Geronimo Must Die by J.R. Lindermuth

28. Entrance to Nowhere by Marja McGraw

29. Final Check Out by CeeCee James

30. The Burning by J.P. Seewald

31. Death Overdue by Allison Brook

32. Unresolved by F.M. Meredith

Happy Reading!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

"Where I get my ideas" by Amy Reade

Author Amy Reade

I was giving a presentation several weeks ago when a woman in the audience asked me where I get my ideas for novels. 

The question stopped me cold. I know, I know, I should have expected it. It’s one of the more common questions authors receive when they give talks or participate in book signings and I’ve answered it myself dozens of times. But for some reason there were so many answers swirling around in my head that all I could manage was to stammer, “Um, my imagination, I guess."

Face palm.

I eventually recovered and started talking about all the places authors’ ideas come from. And there are as many places as there are authors—probably many more. We get ideas from news headlines, obituaries, overheard pieces of conversation, dreams, even other books. Sometimes we have no hint as to where an idea came from. Sometimes an idea comes when brainstorming answers to a “What if?” question.

Once there is that little seed of an idea, that’s where the imagination kicks in. I thought it would be fun to share with you some of the places I’ve found ideas lately.

The first is an article I read on Flipboard, a personalized magazine app I have on my phone. Just the other day I read a story from “Rolling Stone” about a man who, after coming under suspicion for killing his second wife, also came under suspicion for the death of his first wife. ( 
The second was nothing more than a headline (I can’t seem to find it now) about a woman whose bag was misplaced by airport handlers and finally returned to her years later. I got thinking: what if the woman had put something in the bag that connected her to a crime? What if that item was missing when she got the bag back? That could make for a very interesting situation.

The third is another headline: “Stabbing disrupts class for anger management.” I could see this happening in a book by M.C. Beaton.
Fourth is an obituary you have to read to believe: I love it. How fun would it be to write a book with such a main character?

And finally, an overheard conversation: at a local shop just last week, I listened as a woman and her husband argued over what to buy the woman’s mother for Christmas. I got thinking about what type of arguments they have in private if they’re willing to argue like that in public. And more “What ifs?” popped into my head. What if the woman suddenly turned up dead after the argument, which other people also overheard? What if the mother was found dead? These could make really interesting stories.

The next time you come across an intriguing headline or an over-the-top obituary, I encourage you to ask the follow-up “What if?” questions. You might find—or invent—a great story. And for those of you who, like me, enjoy true crime stories, it’s often the case that the truth really is stranger than fiction.

Thanks for having me here today, Pat. It’s been an honor and a privilege.

My pleasure, Amy. Thank you for being my guest. 

Here are Amy's social media locations:

Friday, December 1, 2017

A Christmas Mystery

Readers often ask writers where their ideas come from and, of course, the answer is "anywhere and everywhere." Bits of overheard conversation, a personality trait or a physical characteristic from someone we know. The list is endless. 

But what fascinates me the most about the writing process is when I find myself writing a scene based on something, long forgotten, from my childhood. That's exactly what happened as I was writing my Christmas mystery, Unfinished Business.

One year, I desperately wanted a Patty Play Pal doll for Christmas. I wrote my usual letter to Santa asking for the doll. But, as Christmas got closer and closer, I was impatient. I'm still not sure what made me decide to search my parents' closet but I did. And I found the doll. But it wasn't the thrill I thought it would be.

Here's the scene as I wrote it for the book when Ann's older sister, Marnie, and her boyfriend, Sam, come to Cincinnati for a Christmas visit.

As the kids went down the hall to their bedrooms, Ann said, “We’ll be lucky if it is light when they get up. Last year, Davey woke us up at three in the morning, insisting that we go open the presents from Santa.”

“In that case, maybe we should all turn in early,” Marnie said, yawning. “I know I’m ready.”

“You guys go ahead,” Ann said. “David and I have a little work to do first. We’ve got to get the milk and cookies out and,” she whispered, “the presents Santa is bringing out of our bedroom closet.”

“So that’s where you hid the presents,” Marnie said. “I was wondering.” She giggled. “Ann, remember the year we decided to look for our Christmas presents?”

“Oh, wow,” Ann replied, “I forgot all about that.”

Marnie looked at Sam and David. “Ann and I knew that, in addition to the presents Santa brought, our parents always got each of us one gift every year. We got curious one year and, whenever we had the chance in the days before Christmas, we’d go searching through closets, under our parents’ bed, anywhere we could think of that they might have hidden their gifts for us. Finally, one afternoon, we found them. In the master bedroom closet, along the base of the wall, there were these sliding panels with storage space behind them. We had quite an adventure that day, didn’t we, Ann?”

“We had an adventure but it didn’t turn out to be so good. I’d been hinting for weeks that I wanted a Cabbage Patch doll. I was so excited that day when I found her,” Ann told them. She frowned. “Unfortunately, when Christmas morning came, it just wasn’t the same. I’d ruined my own surprise. The worst of it though was that the tag on the doll’s box read, ‘From Santa’, not from our parents.” Ann glanced at her sister. “You tried to convince me that Santa had just left that present early but I didn’t buy it.”

“That was a bummer,” Marnie agreed. “I felt so bad for you because I knew how disillusioned you were. I guess that was the year you stopped believing in Santa.”

“Not exactly,” Ann said, grinning. “I still believe.”

And so do I! Merry Christmas!