Greek Tragedy in Western Kansas

I had the pleasure of interviewing Charlotte Hinger,charlotte-hinger-web-221x276 the author of four books. Her novel, Hidden Heritage was cited by Kirkus Reviews as “One of the Best Mysteries of 2013″ and also “One of the Best Fiction Books of 2013.”

A native Kansan with a flaming state loyalty, she says her books prove “the Greek tragedy is alive and well, it’s just moved to Western Kansas.” Her mysteries contain elements such as witchcraft, herbal medicine, Episcopalians, lots of family drama, and of course murder.

“A female priest drops the chalice at the altar because someone has whispered to her, I know who you are and I know what you’ve done.” —  Charlotte Hinger describing Lethal Lineage

“One of the most famous Kansas editors said once, ‘What ever happens in the United States happens first in Kansas.’ We’re almost like a bellwether for all the problems the country’s  going to have to deal with, we think them up first.”

Charlotte is the kind of person who wants everyone to succeed and as a teacher of writers she has great advice:

1. Finish the book. Write it twice before anyone ever sees it. Make sure it’s your best work.

2. Intelligent marketing to publishers. Research houses that are appropriate to your submission . i.e. no fishing books sent to publishers that only print thrillers.

3. Read the publisher’s guidelines. They will tell you what they’re looking for, length, formatting, how to submit.

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Tis the Season to Give and Give Back

Diana Belchase:

Several of my friends are donating parting of their sales to worthy charities this year. Krista Hall below, details many of them in her wonderful post. I also wanted to do a shout out to my friend, author Susan O’Brien, 56a7b5011a7b68ed22706f4891d32c82who also donates a part of the proceeds from her wonderful book, Finding Sky, which goes to help charities involved with missing children.

Tis the Season to Give and Give Back

by Krista Hall

Thanksgiving is over. We Americans were thankful for our blessings and then quickly pivoted to preparations for the season of giving (aka Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, etc.). It is also the season to give back. Today, I have my own opportunity to give back. As it happens, it is also a second chance because it was an opportunity that I passed up the first time it presented itself.

What was the opportunity? (You were wondering that, right?) Modeling.

Yes, as surprising as it may sound, late last week I found myself suddenly in demand as a model. In a fashion show for a holiday luncheon benefit. An event I was helping to organize and planning to attend.

What I hadn’t planned on is the catwalk.

When the call to action came last week—We’re down three models; please help us out—the words on the tip of my tongue were all negative. I can’t. I ate too much pumpkin pie last week. I might trip on the catwalk. But before those words could launch into sounds of refusal, I remembered how much generosity, support, and kindness has been given to me this year. These same women who are dedicating their time, talents, and energy to organize the Northern Virginia Alliance League (NVAL) holiday luncheon to benefit Friends of Guest House, were also the same women who celebrated with me earlier this year when I announced that I had published my first book.NVAL

My heart has been full of gratitude at their enthusiasm and support expressed in word and deed. Not only have many of my NVAL friends bought Broken Places, they have also taken the time to write reviews on Amazon, to express interest in the writing and publishing process, to invite me to talk to their book groups, and to give copies of Broken Places to their friends.

It has truly been a wealth of blessings. I have a pretty good idea of how George Bailey must have felt at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life. (Another holiday favorite of mine.) How could I say no to these friends who have given me so much? It was my time to give back. Keep your fingers crossed I don’t trip over my own two feet!

brokenplaces-frontcover-final-72dpi-1Do-gooders and second chances are two prominent themes of Broken Places so in the spirit of giving back, I will be donating half of my December Amazon royalties to Friends of Guest House, a 501(c)(3) serving women ex-offenders returning to the community after serving their time. Sometimes a helping hand can make all the difference. I think the mission statement from the Friends of Guest House website says it best: Help, hope, and new beginnings for Northern Virginia’s ex-offender women.

Here’s a list of other authors who are doing good while entertaining us with stories that give us the opportunity to walk in someone else’s shoes, even if just for a few short hours.

  • Heather Ashby donates half of her royalties to Fisher House to support military families in the U.S.
  • JK Rowling is donating all global royalties for The Cuckoo’s Calling to The Soldiers’ Charity to support military families in the U.K.
  • Nora Roberts donates millions every year to the Nora Roberts Foundation to support literacy and children’s programs.
  • Debbie Macomber serves on the Board of Warm Up Americawhich distributes hand-knit afghans, caps, and other items to tens of thousands of people in need. hh_front_cover
  • K&T’s Rachel Grant and the authors of the Hometown Heroes book bundle are donating all royalties to Pets For Vets.
  • K&T’s Lena Diaz organizes the K&T donation as well as donating her own books and other items to the annual Brenda Novak Auction in support of Juvenile Diabetes research.

Wishing you and your family peace and joy in this season of giving!

All month, the kindle edition of Broken Places is a free download for anyone who purchases the paperback edition through Amazon. Give a gift and keep one for yourself!

Originally posted on Kiss and Thrill:

Thanksgiving is over. We Americans were thankful for our blessings and then quickly pivoted to preparations for the season of giving (aka Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, etc.). It is also the season to give back. Today, I have my own opportunity to give back. As it happens, it is also a second chance because it was an opportunity that I passed up the first time it presented itself.

Holiday_Lights_(8290582563)

What was the opportunity? (You were wondering that, right?) Modeling.

Yes, as surprising as it may sound, late last week I found myself suddenly in demand as a model. In a fashion show for a holiday luncheon benefit. An event I was helping to organize and planning to attend.

What I hadn’t planned on is the catwalk.

When the call to action came last week—We’re down three models; please help us out—the words on the tip of…

View original 518 more words

Barb Goffman: Method Writing is Murder

Originally posted on Kiss and Thrill:

Hope you’re all enjoying the holidays! For a special treat, I’m sharing a video I did with multi-published, multi-award winning short story author, Barb Goffman. 1f12dc3352207d823b40716dacfa790a_8bwn

Barb has been nominated for the Agatha Award seven times, the Pushcart Award once, the Macavity twice — winning the latter in 2013 and also the Silver Fachion Award for the best single-author mystery short story collection published in 2013.

Anyone need a holiday gift? Not even the fussiest recipient can complain about receiving Barb’s great short story collection, Don’t Get Mad, Get Even,  this holiday season.

In the meantime, enjoy this interview where Barb tells me how Santa and those naughty elves ended up in one of her recent stories. If the file doesn’t load, please update your Adobe. And to leave a comment, please click HERE or scroll to the bottom.

81fGiQN+XVL._SL1500_ And in the mystery spirit, let us know what might incite you…

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Diana Belchase:

Wishing all my readers a Happy Thanksgiving!

Originally posted on Kiss and Thrill:

contentHappy Thanksgiving! Today I’d like to share some silly and not so silly things those of us at Kiss and Thrill are thankful for.

Carey:

BillandElvisSilly: I’m thankful I’m not a turkey.

Serious and Silly: I’m thankful for my husband’s Elvis impersonation. I swear it made me fall in love with him. 

Serious: I’m thankful for my three incredible children and the beautiful world we live in.

Lena:

photoSerious: I’m thankful that my son and daughter will be home for the holiday.

Silly: I’m thankful that my son and daughter will be home for the holiday. (Seeing a trend?)

Krista:Rosie in my chair

The GirlsSilly: I’m grateful for Rosie who always keeps my favorite writing chair warm when I’m not sitting in it.

Serious: I’m grateful for my mom and sisters and all the laughter we share when we’re together.

Diana: 

Silly: I’m grateful for my DVR because it means I can take…

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Celebrating Heroes on Veteran’s Day

November 11th is Veteran’s Day. There will be ceremonies at Arlington Cemetery and at the White House. Some government offices and banks will be closed. But, unfortunately, a great number of the men and women who’ve served our country will wake up today and feel forgotten.

Let’s change that.

Korean War Memorial (c) Diana Belchase 2013

I’m running this post early so that when they wake up on Tuesday the 11th, there will be a mass of loving messages from readers to our military personnel around the world.

Three years ago, I compiled a booklet of messages — some from online readers, some hand written — thirty pages of love that was duplicated many times and sent overseas. The reaction and gratitude still takes my breath away. And it’s the least I could have done. I hope this year, to make Cyber Hugs for Heroes a bigger deal. Please add your thoughts and good wishes below and let our heroic men and women know they are remembered.

Heroes are important to writers — especially thriller and suspense writers. But no matter how well we write a character, there is nothing that compares to real life heroes. Ordinary people, sometimes with extraordinary skills, all with enormous courage to confront horrific situations and keep us safe.

So often our unsung heroes in the Armed Forces are never thanked for the sacrifices they’ve made to protect us all. They receive poor pay, tremendous responsibility, dangerous accommodations, and they do it all with a smile. It’s now our turn to say, “Hey, thanks for being there, for serving, for doing for me what I cannot do for myself.”

Iwo Jima Memoria (c) Diana Belchase 2011

So, to all our Vets, and also to those in clandestine service where there is no holiday — officers in the CIA, NSA, FBI, Homeland Security, Secret Service, and too many others to list, I’m sending you all a huge

THANK YOU!

Each and every one of you — whether on the battlefield or behind a desk– work as a team to keep us and much of our planet safe. This includes our allies throughout the world (Did you know November 11th is called Remembrance Day in Canada, Australia and Britain?). You humble us with your sacrifice. Our debt to you will never be repaid. God bless you and keep you from harm.

Please let our vets know how much they mean to you by leaving a comment below. I’ll spread the word to make sure they are seen.

(I will NEVER abuse your email — but note you do not need to leave your email to leave a message below.)

Alan Orloff: Murder, Politics & the Serious Comedian

deadlycampaigncoverIt’s Alan Orloff’s birthday! To celebrate, I’m running a video interview we did at Malice.

Alan’s books are great and so are his not-to-be-missed author signings.  If you think that’s hype, tell me when was the last time you saw an author wearing a star spangled Cat-in-the-Hat hat and doing a stand up comedy routine? His book, The Deadly Campaign, is just the thing to get you through the upcoming elections without actually having to murder someone yourself.

Anyway, without ado, here is the video. Enjoy, and “Happy Birthday” to a great guy!

 

How to Ruin a Series with a Big Bang

My favorite TV show is The Big Bang Theory. I’ve come to love the characters so much that I think of them as friends. On days when I don’t feel well — which is frankly more often than I’d like — I love to curl in bed with four or five episodes on my DVR and forget my troubles and pains.

Why then do I hate the new season so much?

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source: wikipedia

I waited for this season, rejoiced there’d be at least another three years of shows, counted the days until I found out what happened to Sheldon when he freaked out and ran away from home.

Somehow with the cutting of Penny’s hair, the laughter and tenderness of the characters were severed.

You see, the big reason I love Big Bang Theory is because these characters grow. We know so much about them, have even met their parents, know of their traumatic childhood incidents, shared their hopes and dreams. We’ve rooted for them. We’ve cheered when the little guy got the sexy girlfriend. But all of that seems to have stopped this year.

Each of the major characters, aside from Penny and Leonard, have had major epiphanies — Howard stopped being creepy and became a loving husband, Raj learned how to talk to women and has a girlfriend, Sheldon is more flexible, has moved forward with his relationship with Amy, and has even reconciled changing his area of scientific research.

Where is the growth for Penny and Leonard?

The_Big_Bang_Theory_Cast

source: wikipedia

Leonard (Johnny Galecki) is in exactly the same place he was at the beginning of the series except he miraculously has a girlfriend that outshines every nerd’s dreams. But I don’t think he’s the problem.

Penny (played by Kaley Cuoco), who at the beginning was sweet and fresh and normal, became a bitter, alcoholic — a one note joke that’s become flat over the years. But even worse, all the dreams she had of being an actress have suddenly disappeared.

How awfully sad.

Now, a pharmaceutical salesperson, she’s a bit more responsible than before. But her character arc is lumpy and underdeveloped at best. Where are the stories of her struggling with her decision to quit acting — especially since she’d decided last year to devote herself full time to that career? Where are the longing moments? Where are the snippets from her background to let us know why she wanted to act, why she hated school so much, why booze became her best friend? When did money get more important than dreams?

In every good story the hero and heroine give of themselves. Anyone who’s ever read The Gift of the Magi knows that to be true. What has Leonard given to Penny aside from money? Has he helped her in her career? Has he helped her past her psychological issues? And for Penny the questions are even greater — Why does she love Leonard? Why can’t she do without him? What sacrifice does she make to understand him and his career better? And frankly, whatever happened to her goal to graduate from the local community college?

I see Sheldon and Amy grow toward one another, making sacrifices. Howard has given up his mother and his slimy jokes, Bernadette has agreed to have children. They’ve all grown and they’re all at a plot standstill.

Kaley_bbt

source: vagueonthehow

Penny and Leonard have not grown, and their relationship isn’t believable, no matter how much I wish it were. After all those autobiographical vanity cards after each episode by Chuck Lorre, I wonder if his own difficulties with women mean he doesn’t understand how to make Penny’s character work? Still, he has a team of writers to help him. What are they doing?

Big Bang Theory is getting killed in its new time slot on Monday nights — but it’s not the time slot, it’s lazy writing.

If it were up to me, Penny would have continued to pursue her acting career. She’d actually have found fame. Think of the potential as Leonard struggles with her flying to exotic film locations, paired with sexy costars. He has been burned by Priya’s infidelity — how wonderful it would have been to see him go through jealousy and then relearn trust as he discovers that Penny’s love for him is true. Penny might be cast in a role as an astronaut, and while studying for the part start to understand more of Leonard’s work. Maybe she gains pride that he is so smart. Perhaps he’d get to put down the sexy actor or become a consultant on set.

Who knows?

I hope this works out because I want these characters to succeed. After all, like all my other friends, I’m rooting for them. ;-)