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hands on keyboardAs I’ve been penning the third story in my four-book mystery series, it occured to me that the first two stories were told strictly from the viewpoint of my amature sleuth Gwen Andrews. I wondered if transforming certain scenes to the viewpoint of another major character might add texture and depth to the story-telling.
And so I saved my WORD file under an adjusted title and gave this idea a try. The emotional impact within both main plot and sub-plot are becoming a more interesting page-turner for my readers. After all, it’s my readers that I need to satisfy!
The process of recreating those scenes from another POV will no doubt extend the time it’ll take me to reach ‘The End’, but I’m convinced this plan of action is worth the extra effort.
Which character was chosen for this second narrator? You’ll have to be patient as I fine-tune the dialogue and internal thoughts to solidify the logic and plot progression. I won’t be passing this third story to my publisher Riverhaven Books until I’ve exhausted my editing and polishing tasks.
Stay tuned!

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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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For my followers who live on the central Gulf Coast of Florida, I’m pleased to share that I’ll be presenting my author talk titled ‘Have you Ever Wondered How a Mystery is Written?’ not once, but twice, this Wednesday, February 21.

The afternoon presentation to the Caribbean Isles residents will begin at 2pm in the clubhouse on St. Croix.  Park addresscaribbean isles logo.png for your GPS: 10900 Walsingham Road, Largo, FL.

The evening presentation to members of the Creative Writing Group will begin at 6pm. Location: Safety Harbor Public Library, 101 2nd St N, Safety Harbor, FL.Safety Harbor Public Library.jpg

After both events, autographed copies of both ‘The Uninvited Guest’ and ‘Where There’s Smoke, There’s Trouble’ will be available.

Meeting new people who are interested in a writer’s journey and appreciate a good mystery is always a satisfying venture for me.

I hope to see you there!

Debi

 

 

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waitingBecause my first two published mysteries are set in a fictitious Massachusetts town, I’ve had no resistance from New England library directors or senior complex program organizers to schedule my Author Talk about the writing process. I’ve even had success in Pennsylvania and Delaware because I have siblings living in both states.

Similarly, New England bookstore managers have been open to placing my books on their shelves as either an outright buy or consignment.

But down here in Florida, where I’m a first-time snowbird for these winter months, stirring up interest in mysteries that do not take place in Florida are a hard sell. In all fairness, most library calendars are set months ahead of time, and I’ve been encouraged to make contact this fall for possible appearance in the 2019 calendar of events.

One of the most fascinating old-style bookstores in this area is ‘Haslam’s Book Store’ in St. Petersburg, FL. After a lengthy chat, the owner advised me in the nicest way possible that he doesn’t deal with out-of staters. He did offer to consider a future novel if I place the story down here on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

I’ve cast my net far and wide along the Gulf Coast towns in search of readers who might want to learn what it takes to write a mystery, for I know they will enjoy the learning experience, and perhaps be inspired to write that story that’s rattling around in their head.

My only option seems to be patience. Oh, yea, and planning ahead for next year.

 

 

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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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For those of you who live in mid-state Delaware, I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be returning to my hometown of Smyrna for my 50th J.B. Moore High School Reunion next weekend.

I’m traveling south a few days early to present my Author Talk to the Bon Ayre Complex in Smyrna on Wed morning, as well as the Nobles Pond Complex in Dover on Thursday afternoon.

On Thursday evening, October 12, at 6:30 pm, I’ll be sitting in with the Book Club at the Smyrna Public Library. We’ll be discussing the writing process for my debut mystery ‘The Uninvited  Guest’.

The Book Club meeting is open to the public, and promises to be an interactive session of questions and answers about my writing journey, the story specifics, and plans for future books in the Gwen Andrews series.

After the meeting, copies of ‘The Uninvited Guest’ will be available for purchase and autographing.

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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As I finish my next story, set on the coast of Massachusetts, I’ve added a scene where two characters take a drive in a red Corvette. I thought a lighthouse would be a good destination. After climbing the steps, my characters could comment on the view from the top.

And so after writers group in Plymouth last Saturday, I took a drive to the Scituate Lighthouse to check out its details. To my surprise and disappointment, the only entrance to the lighthouse came through the private home sitting next to it. I approached two ladies in the parking lot and learned that climbing the lighthouse is possible only during the few open houses held during the summer. Since this story occurs in April, I’d never get away with faking the climb. Unfortunately, the area around the lighthouse was sparse with very few interesting attributes. Bummer.

When I arrived back home, I googled a list of coastal
lighthouses and checked their details. More disappointment…none of them are open to the public.

What to do? A different search brought up the Myles Standish Monument in South Duxbury. This looked promising! I convinced my husband to take me for a ride in… guess what? his red Corvette!… to check it out. As I suspected, the monument would not open until the first Sunday in July, Regardless, we parked at the lower entrance, walked up the steep road, and wandered around the outside of the monument. Although no climb was involved, I gathered terrific details to write into my story.

Research is not only required, but can be fun!

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