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

Friday, January 29, 2016

Rocking The Day Job

By Cathy Perkins

Waving from warm, sunny Orlando. Quite a change from this past month’s endless snow.

photo by Cathy PerkinsI wish I could say I’m on vacation. Instead, I’m rocking the day job, teaching at my firm’s management school and taking a (shh! really boring) mandatory class, made bearable by my peers (who also have to take it).

This week has made me think about careers and balancing. I know authors who have ditched their day job to write full time. Many others are like me—working full time at a job that pays the bills and offers health insurance. Since it’s the season to count your blessings and make plans for the new year, I’ll start with gratitude I have an interesting job that sends me money twice a month. J

Layer in writing, volunteers gigs, and the rest of my life, however, and it’s a lot of balls to keep in the air. Over the past few weeks, I’ve read a number of blog posts talking about time management and work/life balance. While I try to implement some of the tips, consistently, the best advice I’ve received is "write every day." Even if it’s only a line or two, put those words on the page first thing in the morning. Otherwise, the day’s demands can catch up (and overwhelm) leaving you exhausted at the end of the day.  Creative energy? What's that? As much as I hate to admit it, I find if I get out of the “habit” of writing, days or weeks can slide past.


What about you? Are you rocking the day job? Writing full time? Balancing other commitments? 

What’s your best advice for maintaining balance or finding time to write?


Oh. Even the deer came are curious about the steel frame for the giant window. (Did I mention we're also building a house?)  




Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Five Things You Hope Your Readers Never Find Out About Your Creative Process

 Ah the glitz and glamor of the life of a professional, fulltime writer!


From the time I was a child--fourth grade, to be precise--I knew I was going to be a professional writer. I knew because this is what all my teachers told me. Granted, there was some earlier confusion with my third grade teacher because I thought she said RIDER and I remember being flattered but wondering how the heck she knew I loved horses and went riding whenever possible.


By fourth grade however, my teachers were enunciating more clearly, and I got the message. Oh. I was going to be a WRITER. Not nearly as exciting, but okay. They seemed so very sure, I just figured they knew.


I pretty much envisioned this  writing career as me living in a castle by the sea and wearing a peignoir much of the time. Obviously some writing would take place...but I was still perfecting my penmanship on those long rectangular sheets of paper with the blue dotted-lines, so the mechanics were vague.


By the time I hit college I understood quite a bit more about how writing and the publishing biz worked. By then I had mastered handwriting (yes, I was still working longhand) and I preferred men's silk pajamas to peignoirs, but the rest of it...yes, I confess I did still believe that ultimately I'd be working in a castle by the sea. Candlelight and gauzy draperies figured largely. Possibly also harpsichord music.


The reality is a bit different. Actually a lot different. For sure I thought I would have more free time--even if only to accomplish such things as laundry and paying bills. I thought I would be writing one, maybe two books a year. I imagined I would only be writing and that other well-paid people would be taking care of all the rest of whatever it was that might be needed. Handling my translation rights. Picking up my dry cleaning.  

Here are five of my writing realities. And I invite my writing colleagues to share their own writing realities:

1 - I haven't had a facial in six months. Actually, I haven't washed my face in six months. Okay, I exaggerate, but during that frenzied home stretch that every project eventually reaches...grooming is one of the lowest priorities. And sometimes even hygiene is at risk.


2 - I will eat anything that is not likely to kill me and takes no time to prepare. Last night I had smoked oysters and Japanese snack crackers. Yeah, right out of the tins in both cases. It was neither  glamorous nor delicious but it also didn't take long.




3 - I poured whisky, Irish cream, and half-and-half directly into the coffee machine yesterday. I've lost two pairs of reading glasses this week. I narrowly missed taking Tylenol PM in place of aspirin this afternoon.


4 - I sleep wearing wrist braces. The Velcro strips on the braces keep catching on my flannel sheets.


5 - I obsessively listen to the same CDs over and over--no, it's not harpsichord music--or sometimes the same CD, as in singular. You know how most writers are always talking about closing the door so their loved ones don't bother them when they're working? My dear SO closes my office door first thing in the morning, frequently joking-not-joking about locking me in. I believe the word "barricade" has been used. More than once.


So...a life fraught with peril if nothing else. Anyone else out there willing to share a little of the working writer's reality?

Monday, January 25, 2016

HOW OLD IS TOO OLD?


I just attended a talk by a renowned Canadian editor and publisher by the name of Douglas Gibson. He edited the likes of Robertson Davies, W.O. Mitchell, and Margaret Atwood… CanLit royalty. What was most interesting to me was the fact that he is “of a certain age.” He retired from editing and publishing at age 65, then reinvented himself as a writer, then as a performer. Now, at 72, he travels the country in a one-man play in which he dishes about the famous writers he edited.

A couple of years ago, I saw Maria Muldaur at the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival in Fredericton, New Brunswick. (Never been? Oh, you have to go. It’s a fabulous festival.) I’d always liked Maria Muldaur but had never seen her perform. She had to be escorted onto the stage (poor eyesight, I think). That’s when I took a look around the audience and noticed the predominance of gray and white heads. Hoo boy. I braced myself for a nostalgic trip led by a woman clearly past her prime.


Was I ever wrong. Maria Muldaur, also 72, blew me (and everyone else) away. She might have been past her prime, but she sure as heck found another prime along the way.

A few weeks ago, I read a post by Dean Wesley Smith in which he referenced a comment from a reader who regretted starting to write so late in life. Dean understood completely. He spoke about his own experience of feeling like he should have been writing his own, original work much earlier than he did. Then he asked, So what?

That’s my question, too. So what if you started writing at 50 or 60 or 90? Is it what you want to be doing? Does it bring you joy? Fill your well? Give you a reason to get up? Then who cares how old you are when you start?

I admit to a few moments of doubt. Moments when I wonder why I should bother, because really, isn't it rather late? But that's wrong-headed thinking. We should be grateful to have discovered our passion at all. Many people go through life puttering, with no idea what that fire in the belly feels like.

Besides, there are advantages to being an older writer. The kids are grown and (mostly) out of the house. You’re no longer the family chauffeur/breadwinner. Your career may be starting to wind down. All of which translates to more time to dedicate to learning your craft, practising and creating.

I’m approaching 60 and some days I feel like life is galloping by and it’s all I can do to hang on. I’ve got so many stories to write, and so much to learn about this writing stuff… I figure another 40 years ought to do it. Maybe.

Ask yourself how old you would be if you didn’t follow your dream, whatever that is. That’s right. You’d still be the same age, only not as happy. At least now, you’re doing what you were meant to do.

I find myself inspired by Douglas Gibson, Maria Muldaur, and Dean Smith. Who are your inspirations?



Wednesday, January 20, 2016

They Come In Threes...

My grandmother was the queen of old adages. One that consumed her was the, "They come in threes..." motto. If two people she knew passed away she was on pins and needles and would literally heave a sigh of relief when her perceived "third person" passed. 

My grandmother had two sisters. Two out of those three lovely ladies died on the same exact day of the year in separate years. My great aunt, the third sister, is still with us and is as strong as an ox. But every year when April comes around I am sure she's checking that calendar, and I'm sure when that date passes, she heaves her own sigh of relief.

Naturally, this week after the passing of David Bowie and Alan Rickman, I'm reminded of my grandmother's obsession. Sadly, we've lost too many talented stars. The truth is that there is no magic "three rule" in death or any other matter. But if it is something bad, it makes us feel better to think that after we've reached that number everyone is safe again.

There's no need to fret, though. Good things come in threes, too!  The 3 Little Pigs, The 3 Musketeers, Hanson, 3-ringed notebooks, the Wise Men...and awesome trilogies!

My BLUE-LINK series is about to end with the third book, DUSK. (LOL, I caught you all rolling your eyes out there!)



Can you name some more great things that come in threes?


Maureen A. Miller



Monday, January 18, 2016

The box set

My 2016 started off with some exciting news courtesy of Carina Press. My Dylan Scott mystery series is to be published as two box sets. The first 5 books in the series will come first and, a month later, the last three in the series will appear in a second box set. 

Once the excitement of this news had worn off (okay, so maybe it hasn’t quite worn off yet…), I started thinking about box sets and how many I owned. 

If we were talking DVDs, the answer would be several. For example, in the days before I had access to Netflix, I had to buy the Dexter series and the Breaking Bad series in box sets. Had to. No question. But how many book box sets do I own?

As I child, I owned quite a few. These would have been Christmas or birthday gifts, and I do feel that having an all-inclusive set of favourite books is a real treat. Beautifully presented and sometimes a limited edition - wonderful. 

So how many do I own? Well, I had a good think and surprised myself. Without checking the hundreds of books that are scattered around the house, I can’t swear to this, but I think the grand total is, um, zero. Nil. Zilch. There are certainly none on my Kindle.

Just look at this lovely offering from our very own Toni Anderson. Isn’t it gorgeous?



Do I own a copy? No. (Sorry, Toni. :)) Why not? Because I own all the books singly. As soon as I know one of my favourite authors has a new book coming out, I pre-order it. I wasn’t blessed with enough patience to wait for box sets. :)


Am I the only person who doesn’t own a single box set? Writers, are your books in a box set and, if so, what do you like most about them? Readers, how do you feel about the box set? Do you own lots? Do you buy the box set even when you’ve already read the books in the collection? Do ebooks work as well as physical copies when it comes to the box set? Curious minds need to know all your thoughts on the box set. Thank you. :)

Friday, January 15, 2016

BALANCE and CHANGE

One of the things I hear authors complain about most is finding balance in their lives. From finding enough time to write, time to market their books, exercise, down time, spend time with family. 

TIME.

It's so easy to get stressed when one of those things is out of whack, and things get out of whack because there's never enough time to do everything. 

My body has a limit on how long it will spend at a desk without hurting--and if I push it I pay the price for a week. So I don't push it. I am kinder to it, taking more breaks, I use a standing and sitting desk, do yoga etc. My kids and husband, while independent, all actually like to spend time with me--plus often need a chauffeur. I decided a long time ago that if my kids need me for something (not just being whiny brats :))--if they want to tell me about their day and their problems, discuss homework or teachers, then I'll be there for them. Always. It doesn't mean I don't nod and eventually reach for the noise-canceling headphones because my daughter can talk the hind legs off a donkey. But as she swings between garrulous and silent moody teen, I take advantage of the times she wants to chat.  I'm largely self published these days and still do everything myself (except covers, editing, and formatting--these I hire out). That's a lot of different pressures on me from different directions and I didn't even mention the dog, the geckos, and the fact I live in Manitoba which, during the winter, is a pressure all in itself. 

I treat writing the way most people go to work (9-5), although I walk the dog first, usually listening to a research book on audio. Then I turn off the internet (Freedom App) for at least three hours while I get my head into my story. I take regular breaks throughout the day and admit to checking my email and FB on my iPad during tea breaks (if I could stop that, I would). If I'm in full writing mode I aim for 2.5 K new words on the page. If I'm editing then I do as much as I can.

When the kids come home from school I give myself permission to switch to other things. Facebook ads seems to be the marketing thing du jour. Or writing blog posts :) If I'm on chauffeur duty I pack up the laptop and headphones and do some more work wherever I happen to be (sometimes I'm at my most productive during those forty minute shifts). After we've eaten dinner I generally crash for 2 hours of TV with the family and then I read in bed. Every day repeats pretty much like that one. It's my balance and I've worked long and hard to get it just right.

CHANGE

2016 is not looking good for routine. We're looking to get our kitchen and my office renovated. This project is in flux, LOL. We're also going to travel for six months with DH's work. This will be awesome but I have a house, kids, schooling to organize--not to mention the dog and geckos to be taken care of. Thankfully we have an excellent dog/house sitter who stays here. But I'll need to adapt to the changes of being on the road and living in far off and unfamiliar places, and I'll need to get super focused for shorter bursts of writing time if I hope to achieve anything.

This is the reason I haven't set up any preorders for my next two books in the COLD JUSTICE SERIES (except on iBooks which is flexible). I'm hoping to write the rough drafts of both books before I leave in the summer. The idea of having deadlines/or disappointing readers when I have a year that is so uncertain distresses me and affects my sleep patterns (I forgot I used to be an insomniac until I woke up in a cold sweat worried about kitchen renos). Stress is bad for me which is why I've tried to eliminate it from my life (duh). My hubby tells me not to worry, but it's like telling a glacier not to melt under the hot sun. 

So--wish me luck on my next set of adventures for 2016. Happy New Year by the way! Any tips for writing while on the move? Any tips for living in Japan? Or surviving kitchen renos?

************

Some new release news regarding the COLD JUSTICE SERIES. For those of you who've read A COLD DARK PLACE, I've written a short epilogue where former assassin Alex Parker may, or may not, propose to FBI Agent Mallory Rooney.

It's available exclusively in a new box set of six Romantic Suspense series starter books.  99c for the six full books and each author has written a special epilogue to her own story that connects these Romantic Suspense worlds!



DANGEROUS CONNECTIONS

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Romance of Jessica Fletcher

Hold on to your Liberty scarves, everyone. Guess what? I just realized I have at least five things in common with my favorite TV and book detective, Jessica (J.B.) Fletcher. And they’re pretty much indisputable:

1.      I write murder mysteries.
2.      I live in a small New England town.
3.      I use my middle initial in my pen name.
4.      I own a yellow slicker, sturdy boots, and a trench coat.
5.      I do not care for radishes.

I was in my twenties, living in New York City, when the long-running CBS show Murder She Wrote first hit the air. I worked in publishing—as an editor, not an author. But even then, I wanted to be just like Jessica someday.



First and foremost, of course, J.B. Fletcher was a super-successful mystery novelist. A fictional one, yes, but for some reason I preferred to think of her as a living, breathing queen of suspense like another of my idols, Mary Higgins Clark. Jessica was smart, well-read, and considerably more observant than I, with Holmes-like powers of deduction and a keen sense of intuition, especially when it came to human nature. Not to mention, Jessica was also compassionate, kind, and committed to justice for all. What could be more important than that?

Plus, she knew her way around a Royal typewriter (I was at least three months into my publishing career before I finally mastered the IBM Selectric). Eventually she graduated to a computer and Windows 3.1 (probably more easily than I did). Oh, and here’s another thing J.B. Fletcher and I have in common: We both work at our kitchen tables.


Which brings us to Jessica’s hometown of Cabot Cove, Maine. Who wouldn’t want to live in a coastal Mayberry? We won’t even talk about J.B. Fletcher’s irresistibly charming Victorian house. It wasn’t until fairly recently that I was disappointed to learn those heartwarming, New England-y shots of “Cabot Cove” were filmed in Mendocino, California. The actual house is there, too: the present Blair House Inn.

But the interior of 698 Candlewood Lane? Originally, it was a set for The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. (Ouch.) I guess that means the cozy kitchen wasn’t real. Well, no mind. Here’s another thing J.B. Fletcher and I have in common: We both drink tons of tea. Hers hot, mine iced. And I do have some equally lovely china cups and plates. A few may be on the chipped side.

I can’t say that, back in the eighties, I envied J.B. Fletcher’s practical-but-stylish, matronly-but-feminine wardrobe. But as I’ve gotten older, and since I’m a New Englander, I share her fondness for classic tweed blazers and warm sweaters that nicely skim the hips. I haven’t grown into those scarves yet, though.

While always humble, Jessica was highly popular and something of a celebrity in Cabot Cove. Not quite as many people have even heard of me in my own tiny town. More of them are starting to recognize me, though, thanks to the yellow knit, crime tape scarf I got for Christmas this year. But if any of my neighbors or our local constabulary knocked on my non-Victorian door to ask for help solving a murder, I’d probably lock myself in the basement and cower. Guess that was another thing I admired about Jessica: her courage. Even with a suspect threatening her life, which was practically every episode, she stayed cool.



As a prolific and highly professional writer, Jessica was usually on some kind of deadline or other, but she was a champion multi-tasker—and quite good at saying no, unless someone’s life was at stake. (Maybe not one of my strong points. Sigh.) And she did travel often, with all those extravagant dinners and speaking engagements and promotional trips, courtesy of her publisher.

Ah, the rock-star writer’s life. Those days are long gone, I’m afraid. On the other hand, in those same good old days, Jessica wrote as J.B. Fletcher—in part to preserve her privacy, perhaps, but more likely to downplay the fact that she was a writer who happened to be a woman.  In quite a few of those Murder She Wrote episodes, Jessica and the other female characters encounter incidents of sexism that will make you cringe. Not because they happened back then—but because they still do. Through it all, though, Jessica remained above the fray.

J.B. Fletcher would probably have a few things to say about all the changes in publishing today. But she was always a pragmatist. She didn’t always approve of her book covers, or the plot changes a new editor requested, but she let her stories do the talking. Clearly, Jessica loved her work, and she focused on creating the best books possible, backed by solid research. Yes, she watched her sales figures and general trends, but bottom line? She kept her fingers to the keyboard.

Jessica, if you’re reading this, you may be concerned I misled readers a tiny bit by using the word “romance” in my blog title. Yes, I know you’ll always be true to your late husband, Frank Fletcher, and that you and Dr. Seth Hazlitt were just friends, and ditto that guy from Scotland Yard. It wasn’t a marketing ploy, or anything. I meant “romance” in the larger sense, you see. Um…Jessica?



Well, anyway, I’ll keep working on being more like you. In the meantime: Next, on Murder She Wrote (theme song here)













Monday, January 11, 2016

GREAT ESCAPES


 

 

 GREAT ESCAPES

         


During our last meeting, one of my critique partners said something that’s been resonating in my mind ever since:  “I used to read for escape,” he said, “but now I write for escape.”

            This insight stuck with me because I’ve had much the same thought—and more than once.  When you write, you create a whole new world, with new people, new places, new happenings, all of which you control and willingly enter.  It’s your own special place where everything goes accord to your plan—except for one inconvenient fact.  The characters often have minds of their own and take turns and detours you never anticipated.  That might seem to contradict the idea that writing is escape, but on further thought, it doesn’t.  Not knowing what happens next is part of the Big Escape.

Case in point:  When I began The Design is Murder, #5 in my Murders by Design Series, I had no inkling that a little five pound dog named Charlotte (that's her below) would become a major player in the story, but she did. 


Charlotte even helped nab the killer.  In fact, she was so delightful, I couldn’t bring myself to have her spayed, never mind bump her off.  So as she came more and more involved in the plot, her antics provided a welcome diversion.

            And then there was boorish Stew Hawkins (that is not him above!).  No manners, no couth, he bought a trophy wife who three weeks later ended up dead.  Yet halfway through the book, I started thinking, “You know, I’d go out with this guy.”  Who’d have guessed that?  Not DH.  Not even moi.  The thing is Stew was so outrageous, so over-the-top that the more I wrote about him, the more he drew me into his life.  And the more I fled, however temporarily into his world, the more the problems of the real world faded.

            As for reading to break away from the everyday—which most of us do as well--here’s a radical view by memoirist Mary Kaer.  In The Week Magazine, she’s quoted as saying.  Reading is socially accepted disassociation.  You flip a switch and you’re not there anymore.  It’s better than heroin.” 

Hmm.  I wonder which drug Ms. Kaer would compare writing to?  I refuse to say Viagra.

 

How about you?  Have you ever experienced writing as escape?  If so, when in the story did the realization strike?

 

Jean Harrington is the author of the award-winning Murders by Design Series available on Amazon.  Link is: http://www.amazon.com/Rooms-Die-For-Murders-Design-ebook/dp/B00F942VL8

 


Friday, January 8, 2016

Character Role Models

By Sandy Parks

Readers love the underdog, who comes from bad life circumstances and grows into a strong hero or heroine. Imagine the street urchin, who fights his way to become becomes rich and famous, or the gal disowned by her dysfunctional family, who goes on to be the perfect nanny for someone’s children or the best bad ass detective at the precinct.

It is highly unlikely that a child who grows up on the streets will suddenly develop a sense of what is right and wrong, and why morals even matter without intervention at a young age. If your character is tough and from the streets, then you need to show how he learned gained the savvy to run a business (and work with the people in it) without someone in life to plant the appropriate seeds of behavior.
Since Daughters Day is coming up, I thought this family photo, of a father pinning on his daughter's new flight wings in front of her aircraft, was a fitting role model photo.

In order to be believable, we have to know a character gained heroic traits somewhere in their past. It is when your character encounters the adventure/thriller/mystery/romance you create, that those traits surface. In all likelihood, somewhere in their life, a role model has intervened. It may even be somebody the character doesn’t recognize as one.

Think about Luke Skywalker trapped on Tatooine, working on his uncle’s moisture farm. Basically he is an orphan raised by relatives who don’t understand his dreams. Moviegoers know that not far away crazy, old man Obi Wan is watching over him and telling him tales of the galaxy beyond his reach. He’s teaching Luke to expand his mind and be a dreamer. Luke also sees his uncle working hard to support his family and take care of a nephew who at times acts rather ungrateful. He raises Luke because it’s the right thing to do. Whether Luke knows it or not, those traits do rub off and perhaps give him the fortitude to not give up, and understand what people who love one another are willing to sacrifice.

What if your heroine was a street urchin abandoned because her mother is an addict and her father is in jail. Is it a minister at the nearby church who gives her money for odd jobs and teaches her about growing prize orchids that leads her to some day save and scrimp to build a gardening empire?

Think of the stories about twins separated in childhood. What makes one good and the other evil? One had a positive role model somewhere, maybe not the other. It can be a teacher, a minister, a storekeeper, a homeless man (many have some incredible backgrounds of their own), an aunt, or a Jedi.

How does a woman know the right kind of man to add to her life if she lost her father at a young age? How does a man in a family of five brothers and no mother know when he finds the right woman? Put a woman in his life when he is young that teaches him about strong women, or smart ones, or nurturing ones, or ones with a sense of adventure.


So when creating a character background, don’t forget to have a role model somewhere who plants the seeds of what make her heroic.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

THE POOR WRITERS SPA


I know this is OT from our normal writing themes. But here it is January 2016 and the winter blahs are upon us. I’m offering you a respite. A lovely way to relax. So let’s take a trip to
                                          
The Poor Writers Spa.

Items Needed:
Two hours with no one home. You CAN do it. You deserve this.  
Device to listen to tranquil and soothing music.
Book or magazine.
Plain oatmeal.
Paper towels.
Witch hazel.
Lavender bath salts, or lavender or rosemary sprigs.
Favorite body oil or cream.
Lawn chair.
Lots of towels.
Robe.
Space heater if you have one.
If you are a writer have a pen and paper close at hand. Once you are relaxed ideas have a habit of flowing.


Mix oatmeal with warm water making a paste and set in bathroom
Turn on music.
Turn space heater to high and close bathroom door. If you are unable to divest yourself of other humans in the home LOCK that door. No fur babies allowed either.
Fill tub with hot water. Put in lavender or rosemary.
While tub is filling set up lawn chair and cover with towels.
Bathroom should be getting toasty by now.
Get nekked and soak in tub until water begins to cool.
Climb out and slather body with oil or favorite lotion. Drain tub.
Wrap in a couple of towels or heavy robe.
Cover face and neck with oatmeal paste.
Sit in the chair, prop your feet on the edge of the tub and chill. Listen to calming music or read for 30 to 45 minutes.
Use damp paper towels to remove oatmeal.
Take a long hot shower until the water runs cold.
Use witch hazel on your face (witch hazel is a great and inexpensive toner).
Re-oil or lotion your body.
Turn heater off. You should feel like a cooked noodle. Limp and relaxed, ready to get back to writing, reading and dealing. Or just take a nap. Enjoy. 

For everyday use you can make your own:
Toning Mask. White of one egg beaten until frothy. Spread over face. Once dry leave on for ten minutes.  
Sugar Body Scrub.
½  cup of Raw sugar. (Regular granulated will do but raw is best)
½  cup your favorite oil. It has to be an oil. Olive, vitamin E, what ever  
Mix. Let set about five minutes. Good to scrub any place on the body but NOT the face.
 Face Peal
Slice a lime in half and on clean skin rub it over face. Keep away from the eyes and DO NOT leave it on more than 5 minutes. Rinse with cold water.  


Monday, January 4, 2016

Judging Suspense


I am submitting my first two books to the RITA Awards, which means that I also get to be a judge for the competition. While both of my books, HEARTSICK and RED BLOODED, have mystery elements, I actually chose to submit them in other categories that I thought were better fits (Paranormal and Mid-Length Contemporary Romance), which means that I can still judge Romantic Suspense!

Now, I know that doesn’t necessarily mean my judging packet will contain mystery/suspense books, but my fingers are crossed and I’m already pondering the best mindset to be in when reading these. For example, a suspense that surprises me is always welcome, as long as those surprises make sense. But, sometimes, especially with a cozy mystery, it’s fun to guess early on who the murderer is and get that satisfying feeling when you’re right (no surprises!). 

But, then again, maybe I should be focusing more about the overall writing quality, the romances, or other elements. Having never judged before, there’s a good chance this will all be well explained to me in the judging packet. However, if you have judged before and you have any thoughts on the process, I (and I’m sure other newbies) would love to hear them!

(Friendly reminder: RWA asks that you not talk about any specific book you may have judged, so please keep that in mind. But, again, general/overall advice and thoughts would be great to hear!)

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!



A special wish from our "Not Your Usual Suspects" family to yours... 

May your body be healthy, 
your mind be challenged, 
your spirit be lifted, 
and your friends be plentiful 
in 2016!

Happy New Year!!

-- The NYUS Gang

More Popular Posts