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Archive for the ‘Massachusetts’ Category

aus books - smallThere is nothing more satisfying than to walk into a bookstore and see both of my mysteries displayed on the shelf in the local author section.

I’m referring to An Unlikely Story in Plainville, Massachusetts. Children’s book author Jeff Kinney of Wimpy Kid story  fame, built his unique bookstore on the site of the historic Falk’s Market at the intersection of Rt.106 and Rt.1A. Some of the shelving and stairs to the second floor were built using the floor boards from the old market… truly a nod to the past.

When my debut mystery ‘The Uninvited Guest’ was published,  the Strong Women Book Group at An Unlikely Story chose it as their book of the month. I joined them at their follow-up discussion for an enjoyable question and answer session. I’ll be suggesting the second story titled ‘Where There’s Smoke, There’s Trouble’ and ask them to choose it as an upcoming monthly selection.

And it’s time to contact the venues located in the area around Largo, Florida. Last year, when I arrived in January as a first-time snow-birder, I was too late to be included in their calendars. Many suggested I touch base this fall as they’re preparing the calendar for 2019, promising they’d do their best to assign a date for my Author Talk.

About the daily writing efforts … re-sequencing is the word of every day as I continue to create story #3. ‘Bed, Breakfast, & Blackmail’ takes place during the days leading up to Christmas. After attending a 3-day forensics class at the Cape Cod Writers Conference last month, and then discussing the nitty-gritty details with my local police detective, I found I had to re-shuffle many activities one day earlier than I’d written them. Doing this is not as simple as it sounds. By moving a key piece of the investigation to the previous day, it impacts conversations between characters, where they go, and what they do. My opening chapters are now interspersed with green text to signify it’s been moved, and red text to signify re-writing is required. Chapter numbers are also changing as the quantity of pages in each ebbs and flows.

And so, I chug along each morning, knowing that one day, I will type ‘The End’ … and mean it!

 

 

 

 

 

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imagesA few months ago, I was contacted by the host of “Be My Guest”, an interview show on the Upton local cable station and scheduled for May.

The show’s host … Jan Miller … is a delightful woman who asked pertinent questions about the creation of my two published mysteries, ‘The Uninvited Guest’ and ‘Where There’s Smoke, There’s Trouble’. Jan also asked about my writing process and work in progress, which is titled ‘Bed, Breakfast, & Blackmail’. In addition, she touched on my volunteer effort as an audio book narrator for Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown.

The half hour flew by, and we said goodbye much too soon. She invited me to come back when my third story is published.

A delightful activity, and one that every author should pursue. Here is the link if you’d like to have a listen to the interview:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A_Woman_Reading_Papers_At_Her_DeskAfter two years of sharing my writing journey with audiences in New England, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Florida, I received a return invitation from the friends group of my local senior center to speak to them again about the current status of my writing life.

My first author talk to these volunteers explained the ins and outs of creating my debut mystery The Uninvited Guest.’ Now that I’ve published my second story, ‘Where There’s Smoke, There’s Trouble’, my author talk needed to focus on the challenges of writing a series. My talking points had to be updated.

To this end, I pulled out my crib notes for the original talk, opened a new file titled ‘Author Talk, The Sequel’ and updated each step of the process from the viewpoint of the second story.

  • The fictitious seaside town of Harbor Falls remains
  • My amateur sleuth Gwen Andrews again solves the mystery
  • Creating Characters becomes ‘Who Stays, Who Goes’
  • The season switches from autumn to spring
  • The location within the town switches to the local bookstore
  • The plot has to be totally unique… no repetition from the first story
  • Research and local experts change as needed to support the new storyline
  • Decision to omit expensive outside editor
  • Cover creation based on new storyline
  • Publication remains with same independent house
  • Marketing is adjusted during approach to previous venues for follow-up talk

After I share this new Author Talk the first time, I’m sure I’ll find sub-topics that need to be tweaked, but that is simply the nature of a presentation.

My writers life in my retirement years remains a fulfilling activity.  I continue to meet new and interesting people, keep my brain active, and hopefully provide enticing stories to my readers and ever-expanding base of fans.

 

 

 

 

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audience-clipart-lecturer-3For the past two years, I’ve been presenting my Author Talk centered around how I learned to write a mystery. I was thrilled recently to receive an invitation from the Friends group for my local senior center to speak to them again this April with an update on my writing career and my work in progress.

Obviously, my original outline will not be appropriate for this return engagement, so I need to re-create my notes, adjusting the various aspects of writing as it now relates to a series.  Some of the topics will remain the same, but the content will be adjusted to move past the first story and into the next.

For instance, I will talk about choosing names for the characters, but for the second story, when some first story characters remain, and others drop off, I had to create new characters to support the new plot, being mindful of beginnings and endings, number of syllables. etc.

When speaking about the plot, this second talk will share that although the fictional town and main character will remain the same, the location within Harbor Falls will change, along with the season.

I need to be sure nothing from the first presentation is duplicated. Don’t want to bore audience members who attended my original Author Talk!

 

 

 

 

 

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Back in October, a week after I returned to Massachusetts from my 50th Class Reunion in Delaware, I tumbled from my bicycle into some frightful bushes edging a bike path and broke my wrist in three places. This injury put a big dent in my plans to place Gwen’s second story into the hands of readers.

Burdened with a purple cast, a swollen hand, and not a little pain, I chose to cancel three author events in November with great sadness. One of them will be rescheduled. The other two were unfortunately one-time events.

My cast is now gone, and I’m regaining strength and flexibility in my right hand. I’m finally able to grasp a pen, although a signed autograph still appears a little funky with the restriction of three stiff fingers.

For those of you who enjoyed Gwen’s debut mystery, ‘The Uninvited Guest’, you may want to follow her next adventure in ‘Where There’s Smoke, There’s Trouble’, which takes place the following spring. As the story creator, I imbued Gwen with my personal dislike of cigar smoke and built a story around that aversion.

Here’s a link for your convenience:

Thanks to all of you who continue to support my writing journey!

Debi Graham-Leard

 

 

 

 

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Do you live in the southeastern Massachusetts area?

If you have no plans for this Wednesday evening, September 20, join me at the 7pm meeting of the Mansfield Women of Today, HarborOne Bank, 131 Copeland Drive, Mansfield!

I’ll be presenting my author talk about the writing process as I created my debut mystery ‘The Uninvited Guest’. Hope to see you there!

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As I’ve been creating mystery #3, taking place in mid-December New England, I discovered I was mixing up Colonial timelines and character names with the later Victorian architecture.

I had to make a decision so I could write the opening scene in the appropriate location.

Victorian period would allow the story to unfold in a beautifully appointed bed & breakfast, converted from a generations-old family home.

Colonial architecture would age the bed & breakfast, allowing centuries-old family history to filter into the story.

Earlier this week, my husband and I visited the Daniel Webster Estate in Marshfield, MA, to help narrow my choice. And yesterday, I stopped by the Society of Mayflower Descendants in Plymouth, MA, for a nice chat with the two women behind the desk and a man sitting at a research table.

In the end, because my fictional Harbor Falls series is located on the coast of Massachusetts, I settled on a Colonial backstory. Connections to the Mayflower pilgrims, a sad eighteenth century ghost, and parallels to current times will round out the main mystery plot with ghostly connections to my amateur sleuth’s personal subplot.

Such fun!

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