Mystery Writer’s Blog Hop

There’s a new blog in town and it belongs to Cindy Brown.

I met Cindy at a mystery writer’s conference, where we swapped book pitches over lunch. Cindy’s story is so unique and fresh, I’m willing to say right here and now, that MacDeath, is going to be great.  So, look for her novel’s release in the near future and keep up with Cindy’s exploits on her new blog at, cindybrownwriter.com.

Cindy tagged me in this blog hop with the task of addressing four writery type questions. So, here goes:

What am I working on/writing?

I usually have three to four projects going at any one time.  It could be due to my attention span, which rivals that of a crack-addicted ferret, or  because I like to hop from story to story as the characters and plot lines reveal themselves from within the black mist.

I write crime fiction.  Slices of a world, a bit darker and edgier, where bad things happen to good people and mirroring life, sometimes it’s not going to be ok.

I recently finished the manuscript for Hollow Man, a black market organ transplant thriller.  Detective John Penley tracks a serial killer who guts and harvests the organs from his kills.  The detective must make a choice to take down the killer, or make a deal for a kidney, needed by Penley’s son.

via twitter.com

via twitter.com

Another novel I’m working on at the moment is Desert Secret.  I’m roughly halfway through the draft and the main character is an Arizona cop, struggling with his own inadequacies, involving booze and string of failed relationships, when he finds a Mexican drug Cartel trafficking in more than heroin and cocaine.  The cop’s personal bias against illegal immigrants threatens the lives of innocent people trapped by the Cartel.

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I’m revising a screenplay and a few other short projects.  I’m a happily busy guy.

How does my writing/work differ from others in its genre?

Crime fiction can become somewhat formulaic.  Bad guy does a bad thing, good guy follows, good guy catches bad guy after an epic fight.  I like to put my characters through the wringer and force them to deal with impossible odds.  How far would the character go to save their own child?  What would it take to make a bigoted  man seek help from an illegal immigrant?

Some of what I write is influenced by literally growing up in prison.  Let me rephrase that. I grew up on prison grounds.  My earliest childhood memories include being wheeled about in a garden cart by an inmate serving life for murder. Later, I ended up working in the prison system for twenty-plus years, so I got to know the ins-and-outs of the system and the players on both sides of the wall.   So I think that gives me a different voice when it comes to crime fiction.

My Formative Years  image courtesy of dailiymail.uk

My Formative Years image courtesy of dailiymail.uk

Why do I write what I do?

There is something about “what’s at risk” in crime fiction that draws me in.  Every story has its hoops and hurdles the characters navigate through and around.  When you raise the stakes, the consequence of every decision matters.  What I like about crime fiction is that the plot lines often have a thread of truth running through them.  Rather than a fantasy world, I use real events as a background to explore social issues.  Little River, my first published novel dealt with the plight of human trafficking.  I’ve tackled black market trading, homelessness, illegal immigration, big-Pharma and domestic terror in my stories.

How does my writing process work?

I have no flippin’ idea.  Read-Write-Revise-Repeat.  I set out to write every day, unless life gets in the way.

Actually, I do have a method that seems to keep me on task.  I’ve come up with a hybrid plotter/pantser style that works for me.  Writing free and loose as a “pantser” (one who writes by the seat of their pants) is liberating, but comes with the danger of trapping the author in plot canyons of no return.  Unnecessary side trips, unneeded dialogue and characters who seem important, but aren’t helpful in moving the story along frustrate me.

Plotters tend to possess fascist personality types.  I must follow this plot, no matter where it leads. I will not deviate from the illuminated path of the plot.  I’m am not in control of my own story and I’m chained to this boat anchor of a story until it rusts.  Sounds fun, huh?

My process starts with an outline.  It’s a flexible guidepost.  I know where I begin and I know where the story goes.  I let the characters take the path between the two points and it’s never a simple, straight line.  I posted a piece on outlining a few weeks ago about my process.

And even though it’s fiction, research is critical.  The sights, sounds and smells of the story are important elements.  If the reader feels the details are forced, or worse, are inaccurate, they are less willing to suspend disbelief and get into the work, fictional story, or not.  My browser history would make interesting reading for the NSA.

Now it’s my turn.  I’m tapping three talented authors in this blog hop.

I’ve read books from each of them and, they are all writers of paranormal fiction, really good paranormal fiction.  So here they are:

Brenda Pandos

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Brenda is a self-proclaimed Mommy warrior, comma-kazi, wife, computer whisperer, Pinterest addict, chocolate enthusiast, vampire and zombie slayer, merman magnet, and lover of all things pure and right. Well… maybe after a cup of coffee or two.

She lives in California and is surrounded by the loves of her life—her husband, her incredible boys, a grumpy cat, eight chickens and her characters. Before becoming a full-time author, she worked as an IT administrator.

I’ve know Brenda since she was a …well, I’ve known her for a long time, ok?  She is great writer and an even more incredible person.  Go read her books and connect with her at Brendapandos.com

Julie Hutchings

me

Julie’s debut novel, Running Home, giving you vampires with a Japanese mythology pants kicking is available through Books of the Dead Press. (The sequel, Running Away, coming this summer!) Julie revels in all things Buffy, has a sick need for exotic reptiles, and drinks more coffee than Juan Valdez and his donkey combined, if that donkey is allowed to drink coffee. Julie’s a black belt with an almost inappropriate love for martial arts. And pizza. And Rob Zombie. Julie lives in Plymouth, MA, constantly awaiting thunderstorms with her wildly supportive husband and two magnificent boys.

A trail of social media bread crumbs led to me Julie and Running Home.  What a flipping amazing book!  Connect with Julie in all her social media glory and read her vampire saga. You can find Julie and her talented writing partner Kristen Strassel at deadlyeverafter.com

Michael Allen Scott

Author 1

Born and raised at the edge of the high desert in Kingman, Arizona, Michael Allan Scott resides in Scottsdale with his wife, Cynthia and their hundred-pound Doberman, Otto. In addition to writing mysteries and speculative fiction, his interests include music, photography, art, scuba diving and auto racing. For the latest, please visit michaelallanscott.com.

Michael’s Lance Underphal series is a unique blend of paranormal and crime fiction.  The Flight of the Tarantula Hawk features a crime-scene photographer who receives premonitions, guided by the spirit of his dead wife, to find a serial killer before they kill again.  He has a unique voice and a story that will keep you guessing.

Do yourself a favor and read these great authors.  You won’t be disappointed.

Thanks for supporting these talented folks.

 

 

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4 comments

  1. I enjoyed learning more about your process, James. Yours sounds a bit like mine with the hopping all over between projects and constant revisions. Best of luck to you and I’ll be sure to check out the authors you tagged. 🙂

    1. Thanks Stephanie! Oh the horror of revisions! It is handy to have another project to switch over to, when I get bogged down on what I’m working on. It’s upper division procrastination.

  2. Wow, Jim, I now have a great image in my mind of you in a criminal’s wheelbarrow. Great post!

    1. Thanks for tagging me in your blog and giving me the chance to purge, I mean share my writing processes. My formative years were a bit different than most…leading to getting locked into the gas chamber at San Quentin.

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