Killer Nashville

13 08 2010

Well, I’ll soon be off to Killer Nashville, the great crime writing conference. Looking for tips on how to bump off pesky characters, pull off a heist, or escape a jail sentence? You’ve come to the right place. Where else could you sit down to dinner with tablemates who are all interested in discussing the best way to poison people so it’s undectable. Sort of makes me a bit paranoid. I find myself curling my arm around my plate to protect my food, but who knows if that would help. One of these would-be writers might have experimented with their poisons in the kitchen.

So what turns people crazy enough to write about sneaky ways to kill other human beings, or to read these books by the dozens? Not sure I want to delve into the psychology behind it, but I once heard that crime writers are often perfectionists who love to solve puzzles. Perfectionists do tend to get themselves all worked up over small details & threaten to kill people who mess up their orderly lives. So I’d suggest you steer clear of perfectionists when you’re choosing a spouse or a friend. You never know when they might knife you in the back.

Here’s a schedule if you’re interested in attending. Keynote speaker is Jeffery Deaver; find out more about him on his website. Agent and editor pitch sessions are included in the registration price. Conference runs from Thursday evening, August 19, to Sunday afternoon, August 22, 2010. Hope to see you there.

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Live in California?

19 06 2010

If you’re anywhere near Turlock, CA, this weekend, be sure to stop by the Borders in Turlock to meet paranormal author Kitty Keswick:





Are You a Fence-sitter?

7 05 2010

Photo by Simon Howden

I learned recently that I’m a 9. If you’re not familiar with Enneagrams, this won’t mean anything to you, but what it means to me is that I now have an excuse for why I can see all sides in an argument and agree with all of them. This trait used to frustrate my family, who always wanted to know what I really believed about an issue.

Whether it’s pro-choice/pro-life advocates, Republicans/Democrats/Independents, religious fanatics/atheists, or debaters on any other volatile topics, I nod my agreement to their arguments. And it’s not just lip-service (or, should I say, head-service?). I do support their views. And I totally get where they’re coming from.

So does that make me a fence-sitter? Not really. I have strong opinions of my own, but I also value the ability to get inside everyone else’s skin and see issues from a different POV (point of view, for any non-writers) or even from multiple POVs. I guess that’s one of the perks of being a writer. I can look at life from many angles.

Which leads to a question: Do I do this because I was born a 9 or did being a writer turn me into a 9?





I Survived… I Think

21 04 2010

So, one day after the event, I can look back with equanamity. If you read my public speaking post, you might have gotten the impression I don’t like to speak in front of groups.

That’s partially true. And I’m a procrastinator who avoids thinking about the presentation until the last minute, then…gulp!…realizes that it’s time to go out the door, and I have no time left to prepare. Why do I do that? It means I panic as I rush to pull some thoughts together as I drive to my destination and pray that I’ll come up with an interesting and inspirational topic. Yes, I was asked to talk about myself, but every talk should be structured like a story, with a beginning (inciting incident), middle (rising action), and ending (dramatic conclusion).

Luckily for me, my muse works well under pressure. I came up with several exciting (at least I hoped they were) events in my life and made them steppingstones, using an underlying theme of how I jump into careers, then learn on the job, often after I being forced to change directions by a tragedy or a roadblock. That helped me choose my anecdotes.

But I also like to give each audience a takeaway, something meaningful that they can apply to their own lives. My muse, my creative mind, my subconscious didn’t fail me. It dredged up a wonderful idea–one I’d heard years ago in someone else’s speech that had a powerful effect on my life…

Stay tuned for: Seeing the Other Side





Public Speaking: Worse than Death?

18 04 2010

More people say they fear public speaking more than death. Is that true? And why is it authors get asked to speak in public when their forte is the written word? My post on the subject has been moved to the Susquehanna Writers blog.





Guilty Pleasures

29 10 2009

journal with penOften writing is an opportunity to free yourself from the chains of the past. To loose the bonds holding you captive, preventing your spirit from soaring. But for me, that freedom always comes with a price tag—guilt. Writing is fun. Losing myself in another world, becoming brave and strong, fearless in the face of danger, is a guilty pleasure. I avoid writing because I enjoy it so much.

When I indulge, my conscience whispers, “Anything that feels this good must be a sin.”

So I put duty before pleasure and crowd out the siren call of the empty page. It’s easier to clean closets or scrub toilets than to pour out my soul on the page. It’s easier to meet deadlines for copyediting or to critique other people’s work than to free my heart. It’s easier to engage in busywork or to cross off items on my to-do list than to let my imagination soar.

Now what’s your excuse?





Leprechauns and Shamrocks

16 08 2009
Clare Austin

Clare Austin

I’m thrilled to have author Clare Austin here with us today. If you can’t guess by the lovely pic, her book is set in the land of leprechauns and shamrocks. And Clare’s relaxing in the gorgeous green fields of Ireland. So I’m off to the Emerald Isle to interview her.

Thank you for inviting me to your blog today. I have been rushing from place to place on this virtual book tour. I am flying by the seat of my pants most of the time now. Things will settle in I’m certain and I will get back to my usual writing routine. It’s fun promoting my book Butterfly, but I am starting to yearn for the days when most of my time was spent on my current work in progress.

How do I find time to write? Whether it is a chapter of the next book, a blog or email…I love to write. Now, for the disclaimer…I have no children at home.  My sons are all grown up and I am truly enjoying the “empty nest.” When they were little, I read constantly, but I didn’t write. For those of you who do, you have my admiration.

I write every day. Sometimes it is simply to jot down notes between other pressing daily tasks, but I can’t help but write. Stories come to me at odd times, my characters speak out loud while I drive my car, ride my horse and  go to sleep at night meditating on a scene or character. I’ve always told stories in my head. When I was a child I lived where I had plenty of room to ride a pony, swim in the sea or go hill-walking with my dogs as my only companions. I told them stories, made up rhymes, sang silly songs. It never occurred to me that other kids didn’t do the same.

When people find out I write, many of them want to give me their ideas for a story. I always tell them the story is theirs and would be best written by them. I have so many stories in my head and on my computer desk, I could live to be quite old and never get all of them written.

Stories are all around us. We often fail to open our minds and hearts to let them in. I read constantly: history, narrative non-fiction, science, autobiographies and always read fiction outside my own genre. I’m a naturally shy person, so I have had to learn to be bold about approaching people in social situations and asking them to tell me about themselves. Especially in Ireland where folks love to talk, the stories abound. Ask directions and you will get a story. I was walking in the marina in Howth Harbor, just the north side of Dublin Bay recently and a man was working on his boat. I stopped to ask him about the boats name…Róis Aris…which I know in Irish means Rosy Again. He told me the story of the boat and why her name was Rosy. I am now working on a love story…Rosy Again…with bits and pieces of this man’s musings as my inspiration.

That is how it happens…a news article, a stranger’s reminiscences, a song that sticks in my head and causes me to wonder what pain or joy the composer felt when it was written.

Writers all go about the process in different ways. I truly believe I had to banish my inner editor—that still small voice who tells you your writing sucks—and just spill words all over my computer screen. My writing is character driven. They tell me where to go and I rarely argue. Sometimes that means a character I thought was going in one book even ends up in another because she or he isn’t going to tell the story I want to write at the time. That works for me. The first year of my writing, I wrote four full length novels. I had a critique partner for a short while who kept saying I should perfect one and then think about another. I couldn’t do it. The faster I wrote, the happier I was. And it was all about having fun.  It still is for me.

Butterfly_final large Butterfly is the first book in The Fad Trilogy and is available now. The second book in this trilogy is Angel’s Share, a romantic suspense that takes the reader from the pubs of Dublin to the dark and dangerous streets of South Boston. It is set to release March 2010.

Hot Flash is a stand-alone story of loves lost and a second chance at happiness. It  will be available in paperback edition early in 2010 published by The Wild Rose Press.

Please go to my website www.clareaustin.com for excerpts and cover art for all my upcoming books.

If you go to http://www.myspace.com/clare_austin you can see some of my pictures of Ireland and hear some of my favorite music.

I also promised another excerpt (if you missed the first one, scroll down the page a bit; I promise it’ll be worth it):

Flannery swung through the door into the dining room with a flourish but nearly tripped over a bar stool when she saw the now familiar profile, broad shoulders, and curly dark hair of the man who had come to see her sister.

“Sufferin’ ducks, and if it isn’t himself come to brighten the day at O’Fallon’s.” Cade was as compelling as she remembered. Today he was dressed in jeans, a black knit shirt, leather bomber jacket, and a slow smile that would stop a saint in her tracks.

“What can I get you?” She thought a couple of shots of good Irish whiskey would sort him out.

“I’d try the fish an’ chips if you would join me?”

She gave him one of her best smiles, turned toward the kitchen, and yelled, “Hey, Jamie, I’m taking my break. Give us a one an’ one, a serving of the bangers and mushy peas, a couple o’ Harps, and an Inishowen, would you there?”

“Anything for the love of my life,” Jamie called from behind the door.

“Stow it, Jamie Mac!” Flannery shot back, then turned to Cade. “He’s always good fer craic, our Jamie.”

“Craic? Inishowen? One and one? Would you like to translate?”

“Whatta ya mean ‘translate’? You speak English don’tcha?” she teased. “Okay…I’m just giving you a time. ‘Craic’ is fun, ‘Inishowen’ is a whiskey from County Donegal, and a ‘one and one’ is what we, the feckin’ Irish, call fish ‘n chips.”

Flannery’s pulse quickened at the way his dark eyes, shaded by long lashes, swept lazily over her, undressing her, right here in a public place. Yes, as her girlfriends back home liked to say, “He was a ride.”