NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!


Julie Moffet . Clare London . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson . Vanessa Keir . Tonya Kappes . Julie Rowe . Joni M Fisher . Leslie Langtry

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Dreaded Outline

I hate detailed outlines.

There, I said it.

Yes, I understand the need to know exactly what’s going to happen in my book. Yes, I get that I should have these plot twists and aha! moments in firm mental view before I start writing. Yes, I get that it takes some of the oh crap what is this author going to deliver this time stress off my incredibly talented and long-suffering editor.

And yet.

Here’s a dirty secret I don’t tell everyone: I am, by writing nature, a pantser.


I love the thrill of the write. The feeling that I’m reading a book, not knowing exactly what’s going to happen next, except it’s me coming up with the words. The rush of those words spilling out from my unconscious onto the notepad or computer screen.


Ok. I will admit that there are (many) times when that approach involves adrenaline and white knuckles and why do I do this to myself moments. Swearing up and down that next time – NEXT TIME – I will do a proper outline and save myself from this stress.


Probably explains why, for Shifting Loyalties (book 3 in my Mark of the Moon series), I agreed to do it. The dreaded outline. In detail.

And I’ve tried to follow it. I have.

So…yes, I will admit that it has helped. In many places. Rather than staring at the wall or into space trying to figure out the what next of it all, I have an idea of the next what. Those days when I’m feeling uninspired, it’s ok because I KNOW WHAT COMES NEXT.


Concept right?


I’ve relied on it so much this time, though, that when I hit a point where I didn’t have the story outlined in detail – more of a broad brush with smudges at the edges   I went blank. And then I remembered why I did the outline. Because suddenly all I had to work with was a pristine page and a series of bullet points that said, essentially, something big happens and wrap up the story.

!!!

Moving forward? Pretty sure I’ll do this kind of outline again. Will I follow it though?




I’ll let you know when I get there. J

----

Beth Dranoff is the author of the Mark of the Moon series, published by Carina Press and Harlequin and available through most online retailers. She lives in the Greater Toronto Area, Canada, with her family, her dog and more books than she can count. Is it before noon? Then there’s probably a mug of coffee nearby as well.

Follow her on Twitter @randomlybibi, on Facebook or drop by BethDranoff.com to find out what's new.


Monday, December 4, 2017

Simple is Best When Baking Cookies and Writing Books

The best cookie recipe in my personal arsenal of sweet bribes is my great aunt Maggie’s whipped short bread cookies (recipe below). These one-bite treats melt in your mouth, leaving you reaching for more. I’ve been accused of evil misdeeds when gifting them, because the recipient immediately demands the recipe in order to make more.

With only four key ingredients, they’re easy to prepare, but require a cookie press, exact timing, and practice to create the perfect cookie. My name is occasionally cursed by those who try to replicate my cookies, and fail because they’ve never made them before, and lack the skills, tools (cookie press), and/or experience to create a good cookie.

Writing a good book also requires the right number of key ingredients. Characters, conflict, plot, theme, and the writer’s voice must all be present and in the correct amounts. Too much of one or two and not enough of the others with result in a book that doesn’t satisfy the reader. Skills like pacing and writing experience/practice are also essential to creating a novel that goes further than just satisfying the reader—it hooks them and has them eager to read more.

My favorite novels are those with interesting and flawed characters, whose goals are clear, but face difficult challenges in order to achieve those goals. Nalini Singh, Patricia Briggs, and Anne Bishop are all authors who excel at creating stories that are simply and perfectly satisfying for me as a reader and writer.

Which authors satisfy your need for a great story?


Aunt Maggie’s Whipped Short Bread

Ingredients:

2 cups of butter
1 cup of icing (powdered) sugar
½ cup cornstarch
3 cups flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Beat ingredients with electric mixer until the consistency of whipped cream.

Use a cookie press, icing bag or roll in a ball and place on an ungreased cookie sheet (the last option should only be used…last).

Bake for between 10 and 15 mins or until golden brown on the edges.




Julie’s most recent release is Viable Threat (May 22, 2017), book 1 in her Outbreak Task Force series. Smoke & Mirrors, the 2nd book in the series, will be released on Feb 26, 2018. Check out her website and/or social media channels for more info on her books.

@julieroweauthor



Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Finding Inspiration



Where do you find your inspiration? What motivates you to succeed and exceed? 

Inspiration is described as a feeling of animation, arousal, or feeling infused with spirit and enthusiasm to do something. So, where do you find your inspiration? Here's where I find mine.

(1)  Exercise. It sounds corny, but a walk outside can clear the mind and refresh it. Yoga, Zumba, swimming, walking, lifting weights, and even meditation can inspire, too.

(2)  Take Photographs. I don’t have a fancy camera, every picture I take is with my phone. But I love taking all kinds of pictures. It helps me look at things through a different lens. Sometimes a new perspective is all you need to be inspired.

(3)  Be Creative. Draw, paint, play music, sing, dance or write. Artistic expression can be very freeing and often opens your mind to a variety of life’s possibilities.

(4)  Give It a Shot. Try something you always thought you couldn’t do, but always wished you could.

(5)  See the World Through the Eyes of a Child. Hang out with a kid for a day. Most children have a straightforward and honest view of the world. Without responsibilities weighing them down, their carefree attitude inspires fun. So, ride that rollercoaster, splash in the puddles, and smell every single flower on your walk.

(6)  Travel. See how other people live, eat and work. Experience the wonder of another world and culture. There is a lot of inspiration to be had there.

(7)  Let Go. Decide to leave behind those people, behaviors or things that don’t work for you anymore. Sometimes things are out of your hands and you have to make peace with that. Spend your energy on reflecting and enjoying your accomplishments and the relationships that are working.

(8)  Stop Being a Perfectionist. Celebrate your messiness, mistakes and flaws. Hooray! You are human. We love you just the way you are.

So, tell me, where do you find your inspiration?




NO REGRET, the 10th book in Julie's fun, geeky Lexi Carmichael series, releases on January 8, 2018 and is available for pre-order across all online platforms! Her new young adult spy/adventure WHITE KNIGHTS drops on December 14, 2017. Wohooo!

Check out the details on all of Julie's books at her website here.

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