Friday, June 12, 2015

Any Resemblance...

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Coincidental or ... 

  • heavily researched but not authorized
  • authorized but not heavily researched
  • composite
  • figurative
  • counting on the reader not knowing that the murder victim is really your first boss
The truth: fiction writers are imaginative, but we're not THAT imaginative. We can't make up, whole cloth, all the people, places and events we depict. They're all based on people, place and events in our experience or research, more or less.

Take my first book, Under A Texas Star... please. (You can wait until the end of the post to go buy or borrow it.)

Under A Texas Star is a Historical Western Romance. No historical characters appear in it but a lot of history was read before and during the writing of the book. Actual events and locales are referred to. Unlike some periods of history, the old west is well documented with surviving newspaper articles, collections of letters and contemporary histories. So, when I was creating the fictional characters and places, I had real people and places to act as models. Because of the romance aspect, some of those models were polished up so they looked better than they might have been* and I took a few liberties, depicting what might have happened as opposed to what usually happened.

That a young woman could successfully pass as a boy is not something I took liberties with. This has been documented throughout history, but especially in the American Civil War.

No, I took liberties with the Oasis Saloon (and cooperative whorehouse). The life of a saloon girl was not, ordinarily, the least bit romantic. Jezebel, the grand dame of the Oasis, is based on the few exceptions combined with the old west trope of the fallen woman with a heart of gold. Then I asked myself, how would a woman like that run her own operation? What would I want to do in her place?

Jase Strachan (pronounced strawn) is the hero of my youth. As such, he is the composite of many men, real and fictional. He is also the kind of man I'd want to be if I were a guy instead of a gal. So, in a way, he's also based on me.

Marly is the heroine I would have liked to have been at that age, modified by the circumstances of where and when and how she grew up. Their romance could be considered a bit narcissistic if they hadn't developed into their own persons.

For me, and a lot of authors I know, that's the key. Whatever the original source, we make our characters and locations our own, then they assert themselves as their own.

Under A Texas Star is a work of fiction... Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is only the seed of the final work.

Next time... Deadly Legacy and the murder I committed for my mother.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Book Tour

A Bodyguard to Remember is on tour at the review sites below. I'm looking forward to meeting new friends, but I hope a few of my old ones will come along for the ride.
Many thanks to Goddess Fish for being so easy to work with and my hosts for inviting me over.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

My Characters - Myself

“Do you make up all your characters, or do you put some of yourself in them?”

That is the question Melodie Campbell answered last week in her post: Damn Right, there’s Me in my Characters!

This got me thinking. I know how I create characters and I can't help but insert a little of me in each one... including the villains. With the protagonist it's inevitable.

My characters are like my children... if my children had been grown in vitro, with multiple fathers.

For example, if I needed my character to be a bond enforcer, I'd start thinking about what I would be like doing that job. What if she got the job through her cousin and really wasn't cut out for it... at least not at first.

I can relate. My cousin Hilary wasn't a bail bondsman, but when I needed work and she needed a writer, she contracted my services. She was my first client as a freelance writer/editor. Getting that job from a family member made me feel a bit like a fraud and gave me something to prove.That's something of me that would probably end up in my finished character.

Next I have to look at what my character needs for the story I want to tell. What are her cultural roots. What are her hair roots? What are her skills and where did she get them? I start picking out donors who can contribute to the creation of the character. Maybe I want her to look cross between Katherine Heigl and Sandra Bullock. There's two donors. Maybe I want a little Married to the Mob vibe to her character. There's another donor.

Would I end up with Stephanie Plum? Not likely. Even if we had all the same "fathers" in the mix, Janet Evanovich would still be the mother. Steph is her baby.

My offspring might be just as disaster prone, but she'd get into trouble for different reasons. Her house might be a mess, but she'd know how to cook. And coffee, not birthday cake, would be her go-to pick-me-up. And she might turn out to be a he. Who knows?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

So Quote Me

Layered collage using ad images from LOTR and NZ tourism.
I love quotes...

I've been collecting them since I was a teen. In a safe place somewhere (I keep misplacing the dang thing) is a note book that I turned into a scrapbook of favourite cartoons, quotes and art.

I know it goes back (at least) to when I was sixteen because I quoted a Hagar the Horrible strip on my Economics paper that year and the strip is in the book.

Today is cash, tomorrow credit. 
Remember please, 'twas I that said it.

Every since watching Gilligan Island's version of Hamlet, I've tried to remember Polonius's excellent advice... to music of course.(Toréador's song from the opera Carmen)
Neither a borrower nor a lender be,    
Do not forget: Stay out of debt; 

Think twice, and take this good advice from me, 
Guard that old solvency. 
There’s just one other thing you ought to do. 
To thine own self be true.
I never paid enough attention to the solvency part, but I have done my best to be true to myself... although it's a real challenge some days.

I've owned Time Enough For Love by Robert Heinlein since it came out in 1973.That didn't stop me from copying out my favourite bits from The Notebooks of Lazarus Long (a book of advice within the novel).
“Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.”
"The supreme irony of life is that hardly anyone gets out of it alive."
"A society that gets rid of all its troublemakers goes downhill."
And a quote that is as true today as it was during the Inquisition:
"It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so."
If there is not a Notebooks of Red Green there should be.
"You need only two tools.  If it doesn't move and it should, use WD-40.  If it moves and it shouldn't, use duct tape."

"When you make a mistake, make amends immediately.  It's easier to eat crow while it's still warm."

"Never pass up an opportunity to pee."
That last one I didn't learn to appreciate until recently.

On that note, if you'll excuse me, I need to skip to the loo.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Throwback Thursday - Nighthawk Revisted

Nighthawk vs Kate Garrett

For a couple of years I ran a character interview blog called Nighthawk Talks. My alter ego, Nighthawk, chatted with characters from a wide variety of books, starting with my own, friends' books and then friends of friends and so on. I met some lovely people as a result.

Kate Garrett is from my mystery, Deadly Legacy.

Welcome back to Nighthawk Talks, I’m your host Nighthawk...

You’re a bird.

Well, yes.

Common nighthawk, aka Chordeiles minor. Owl-like insectivore. You look more like a crow.  No, a raven. I remember my father telling me that ravens have longer tails and hookier beaks.

Nighthawk is my name, not my breed... Never mind that! Tonight we welcome Detective Kate Garrett.

Is Nighthawk your real name?

No my real name is “Quoth” - YES, it’s my real name!

Calm down, ma’am, it was just a routine question. How long have you been a virtual radio host?

I’m supposed to interviewing you, Detective Garrett.

You haven’t asked me anything yet.

Tell us about your father.

Which one?

Joe Garrett, of course. How many father’s do you have?

Well there’s Joe of course - everyone knows Joe. Then there’s my step-dad David. He’s a physician and counsellor at the university. I guess a lot of people know him too, but not as well as he knows most people. The Chief, Igor Thorsen, is my godfather. I used to call him Papa Igor when I was younger. Not so much now he’s my boss.

You say “everyone knows Joe”. He must cast an awfully large shadow on your life.

Well, he is taller than me, but compared to the Chief...

You know that’s not what I meant.

Yeah, but I get tired of the question. It’s almost as bad as “How are you feeling?” How am I supposed to be feeling when my Dad dies? As for living in his shadow... think of it more like shade. Sometimes I get a little lost in it, but mostly it provides protection.

Okay. What are the benefits of being Joe Garrett’s daughter? You didn’t exactly have a normal childhood with your father being injured and turning to alcohol, and your mother having an affair with another man.

If you think that’s all that abnormal, you’ve never looked at family services stats. Anyway, my childhood was happy. It was my teen years that were ... challenging. I got through them. Even if I was willing to talk about what I went through – which I’m not – you’re prying into events that involve people who are not here to speak up.

Does that mean you won’t tell me about your new partner, Jake Carmedy? He called you the “damned woman.”

He did, did he?

He thinks you’re crazy to leave the police force.

Police services. Even in your time, it’s police services.

What do you think about Mr Carmedy?

I have generally found Carmedy to be polite and professional with people other than myself and, it seems, with you.

He walked out on the interview when I suggested he was attracted to you.

(Sputtered laughter.) According to this wiki, ravens are supposed to be highly intelligent problem solvers. I’m not so sure. Before you ask me something that will make me walk out, why don’t we end this interview and have an off the record chat over coffee.

That’s an offer I can’t refuse. If you want to learn more about Kate Garrett, dear listener, you’ll have to pick up Deadly Legacy.

2018: When Joe dies unexpectedly, he leaves his daughter Kate half interest in Garrett Investigations, his last case that ties to three murders, and partner she can't stand.

Jake Carmedy has lost a partner, mentor and friend, but grief will come later. First, he has a case to solve, one that has detoured from a simple insurance case to a murder investigation. If that isn't enough, Joe's daughter seems to want to take her father's place as his boss.

No matter how hard they try, Carmedy and Garrett can't avoid each other and they might be next on a killer's list.

Mystery, Suspense, Speculative fiction

On sale in Kindle and paperback formats at:
Also part of the Deadly Dozen book set.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Some Women Fantasize about Prince Charming...

... I dream of getting new flooring.

When I was a teen, I fantasized and wrote about exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new life and new civilizations, boldly going... anywhere off-planet.

When I was at university, the theme was saving the world and having hot sex with a variety of partners who thought the sun rose and set on me.

When I wrote Under a Texas Star, I was escaping my hospital room and nosy roommate.

Deadly Legacy gave me a way of dealing with my mother's death.

When I started A Bodyguard to Remember, what I most wanted was new flooring and fresh paint.

Our carpeting was dirt brown, indoor/outdoor stuff that was at least twenty years old. The previous occupants were smokers, drinkers and kept rabbits and cats, neither of which were particularly well housebroken.

The co-op cleaned the carpets and painted, of course, but some smells are hard to eliminate.

In fairness, we added to the cocktail. With two small children, you can expect spills. I'm not perfect either, especially when distracted while holding a full cup of coffee. 

The worst happened after my father's stroke. We took care of him at home for a few years. Although he had quit smoking years ago, his sense of smell never entirely bounced back. He really didn't know what we were talking about when we told him he couldn't dry his Depends in front of the fan. Nor could he tell when his portable urinal ranneth over. 

Around the same time, our family cat was reaching twenty years of age, which is almost 200 in cat years. We had an incontinent cat added to the mix. Georgette (named for Georgette Heyer) had been with my sister and I (going back and forth when our allergies demanded) through four pregnancies (two each). She was my daughter's best friend. There was no way that we weren't going to keep that cat as long as we could make her comfortable.

But the carpeting and our sinuses suffered. No amount of carpet cleaning or deodorizers completely removed the stains or smell. So, when I was standing at the corner, waiting to cross the kids at lunch (I'm a crossing guard too) I started thinking about ways I could speed up the replacement of our flooring. I came up with a dead body in the living room.

Being a writer, I had to work out who the body was, how he got there and what happened next. Since I hadn't totally given up on the fantasy of being desired by multiple men or saving the universe, a little bit of that crept in too... And the first Men in Uniform book was born.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Code Name: Gypsy Moth - the annotated listing

On sale now!
($3.77 in Canada... damned rate of exchange!)

An Imajin Qwickies™ Sci-fi/Romantic Suspense Novella with a dose of Campbell Humor
(Campbell humor is nothing to be scoffed at... laughed at, but not scoffed.)

It isn't easy running your own bar in the final frontier...especially when you’re hiding a secret.
(If it was easy, Melodie wouldn't be writing about it.)

Nell Romana loves two things: running The Blue Angel Bar, and Dalamar, a notorious modern-day knight for hire. Too bad he doesn't know she is actually a spy working undercover for the Federation.
(Doesn't know yet... will he? You'll just have to read to find out.)
The bar is a magnet for all sorts of thirsty frontier types, and some of them don’t have civilized manners. That’s no problem for Dalamar, who is built like a warlord and keeps everyone in line. But when he is called away on a routine job, Nell uncovers a rebel plot to overthrow the Federation. Her cover blown, she has to act fast and alone—and more than their love is put to the test.
(Like I said, if it was easy, Melodie wouldn't be writing about it.)
If you're read the Land's End Trilogy, you know Melodie Campbell throws everything but the kitchen sink at her heroine and that's only left out because they don't have indoor plumbing.

If you've read the award-winning Goddaughter series, you know that Melodie knows her way around comic capers.

Now she's gone into space. The galaxy will never be the same again.

Follow Melodie Campbell on Amazon and don't miss a book!