Monthly Archives: September 2013

Holding Out For A Significant Crime Fiction Hero ~ Heroine

Detective, In Morgue

One of the best things about crime fiction is getting into the head and heart of an incredible hero/heroine. Does he have to be the nice and honorable guy next door who morphs into a superheo? No, he doesn’t! Not for me!

She could be that stalwart homicide detective, a beleaguered single mom with a defiant kid, and she’s fighting crime against all odds. He could be highly flawed. Perhaps a heavy drinker or former alcoholic fighting his own demons as he labors on to catch a heinous killer. I want the hero or heroine to arouse my emotions. I want to feel their distress, root for them when the odds against them seem astronomical, and fear for them when they encounter danger  as they run their course.

Antisocial is perfectly fine for a crime fiction hero/heroine — as long as the character gets their hooks in me. They “gotta have heart” to get me to recommend the book. No matter how jaded they’ve become (and I love jaded heroes), on some level they have to believe they’re there to protect and serve. They have to seek justice for innocent victims of crime. And when the victim is not so innocent, even if it’s their um-teenth homicide, they can’t be indifferent to murder’s pain and suffering…even if they want to be.

I also go for a heroine/hero who is aware of the inherent injustice within society where there are always haves and have nots. I can appreciate a detective who gives a basically good bloke who’s made a few mistakes a break. The ghettos are populated with mostly ordinary citizens who are trying to provide for their families and have a good life. My type of hero/heroine would be angered by predators who commit atrocious acts, even if they hail from the underclass. My type of heroine/hero would relentless pursue the killer no matter if she/he were from society’s A-list, the boardroom, or the hood.

Above all else, I have to believe the hero/heroine is a cop. If you’ve taken, or know someone who’s taken a criminal justice course in college, then you might be familiar with the proverbial lecture on “the police officer’s psychological profile.” Police officers take psych tests when they apply for their jobs. So, it could be argued that the police force choses a certain personality for the job. Be that as it may, there is a “cop personality.” Police departments tend to be looking for officers who are efficient, pragmatic, conservative, cynical, suspicious, and action oriented. Even sleepy little villages who have never experienced a homicide want this type of police officer. In today’s law enforcement environment the smallest of police forces are incredibly professional. The local yokel who makes it onto the force is, for the most part, a thing of the past. Barney Fife is no more. Of course we write fiction…and if the story is a cozy, a Barney Fife might be just what the author desires.

For those writing detective stories, suspense, and/or thrillers that more realistic “cop personality” might give the main character traits that garner acclaim for him on the job. However, they can wreak havoc in a marriage and as a parent (cynical, suspicious). So our crime fiction hero/heroine might be doing well in the police department carving out a distinguished career while her/his private life is falling apart. This makes for interesting, multi-dimensional reading.

Graphic courtesy of Microsoft online images


SOUTHERN SUPERSTITIONS by BJ Robinson on the Grace Awards Launch

Southern Superstitions

Barbara and I go way back. We write for the same publishing house, Desert Breeze Publishing. So when she told me how thrilled she was to be part of the Grace Awards Launch, I couldn’t help but do a happy dance. SOUTHERN SUPERSTITIONS, a romantic suspense, is one of her favs out of the novels she’s written. That’s because it was developed from a first-prize-winning short story she wrote in her creative-writing class at Southeastern Louisiana University many years ago. The short story was published in Gambit, the university’s literary magazine.

 

Here’s one of Barbara’s favorite lines from the story…

It was faith in God that would bring her husband home. Even a lucky penny or a dime declared, In God we trust.

 

Now let’s find out a little about this story…

Magnolia June Russell is a small-town Louisiana strawberry farmer determined to have a career besides the berry farm, despite her mother’s advice that she doesn’t need more education to run a farm.

Andy Allen is a strawberry inspector at the local bureau. He has to convince June’s mother that he can be the son she’s never had, since she’s decided a local strawberry inspector isn’t good enough for her daughter. Andy is going to have to change her mother’s mind in more ways than one if their relationship is to survive. Can he persuade June that there is more to their relationship than friends?

Together, they both face the issue of superstitions, an April flood, and conflict after conflict. Will they ever convince Miss. Myrtle to let go of superstitions, or will she stubbornly cling to them just like she vows she’ll never fly on those big-winged mechanical birds because man ain’t got no business messing with God’s plans?

Can love survive the obstacle course placed in their path–an accident, escaped convicts, Andy missing in a Louisiana swamp? Can two determined young people overcome each obstacle with belief, faith, hard work and the power of prayer?

 

Endorsement:

SOUTHERN SUPERSTITIONS is an inspirational story that’s full of personality as well as intricacy in the way it explores the complexities of family life and the conflict between faith and luck. Barbara does a great job of pulling together the deeply rooted superstitions of the South and entwining them into a suspenseful tale of faith, romance, and endurance. I especially enjoyed the setting and the culture of the deep South. ~ Shawna K. Williams, author of NO OTHER and IN ALL THINGS.

*****

One of the best ways to whet your appetite for a story is to read an excerpt…

Rod joined the search party to help investigate his dad’s disappearance. It’d disbanded at nightfall and picked up the search again at daybreak, but they’d found no sign of his dad. Rod guided a canoe deep into the marshes and swamps. He’d hunted with his father many times in these wetlands so he knew where to check. No word or sign of his father made the cold, Christmas season stab like an ice pick, and his heart ached for his mother, left alone.

He slid the canoe through a wall of cypress trees, deeper and deeper into the heart of the swamp. He figured his father headed for the hills. White cranes flew from the cypress limbs. The canoe hit a cypress knee, and Rod gently eased it around a few more. The way they stuck out of the shallow water, like protruding nubs, they reminded him of his grandmother’s warning finger wagging in his face. They could tear a hole in the bottom of a boat. Thank God my boat survived the lick. Maybe that’s what happened to Dad.

Finally, after twelve hours of searching, Rod spotted his dad’s pirogue on the side of the hill, where they’d hunted the previous year. He tied his canoe to a tree limb. “Dad!” He raced to the dome tent and unzipped the door. “Dad?” The tent looked as if his dad made camp, but hadn’t yet used it. The sleeping bag was still rolled up in a corner. The butt of his dad’s 30-30 stuck out from under a sleeping bag. The supplies were still there. Outside, there was no sign of a campfire. It looked as though he never got to hunt. There was no sign of him. Where was he?

Rod picked up the rifle and carried it back to his canoe. He left the other items in case his dad returned looking for them.

They searched until dark. Rod dreaded giving his mother the disappointing news. She’d worry even more, because the pirogue was in perfect condition and so was the tent. No leaking pirogue kept him from coming home. The campsite looked peaceful and serene, not like anything bad had happened, but still there was no sign of his father.

Mom’s on pins and needles, yet she clings to her faith and trust in God. I hear her faithfully pray for Dad’s safe return. Maybe she won’t fall apart when she hears the news but oh, how I dread having to tell her.

 

Purchase Links:

Amazon/Kindle. http://amzn.to

Barnes & Noble/Nook. http://bit.ly/17Yd7W0

 

Author Bio:

B. J. Robinson, an award-winning, multi-published author, writes inspirational southern-fried romantic suspense from Florida, where she lives with her husband, a cat named Frankie, a cocker spaniel named Sunflower, and a golden retriever named Honi. She developed her love for mystery through Nancy Drew books, her love for reading from her mother, who read fairytales to her before she began school, and her fifth grade teacher, who read the entire Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House series to the class. She promises to take her readers on a continuous journey to another world. Reading and writing are her passions, and Jesus is her best friend.

BJ's Books on a Rocker


Is Your Victim Murderlicious?

weapon, knife

 

 

 

 

Well, if not murderlicious, then at least murderable.

 

The reader has to believe somebody wants to off your victim. Preferably there should be a long line of characters ready to send your victim to the great beyond.

 

 

Hnad of Fate

 

An author can have fun with this. Why not? If you’re not enjoying the writing, why do it? Liz Wiehl, in THE HAND OF FATE, created conservative radio talk show host Jim Fate who has ticked off just about everyone. Some say the Fate character was modeled after Mr. Talk Radio himself, Rush Limbaugh. I’m not casting any stones at Mr. Limbaugh. My point is, I’m sure the author had a great time creating her victim. And since the Fate character had a long list of enemies, he was highly murderable.

 

 

Some writers pick people from their past…their ex-mother-in-law, the algebra high school teacher who looked down on them for being math-challenged, In these cases nobody, except the author and perhaps family members and a few close associates, will ever know who the character is modeled after. Of course the author will exaggerate the negative characteristics of said ex-mother-in-law or math teacher. Then again, maybe not. I’ve heard authors say, more than once, they toned reality down because nobody would believe it.

 

Injustice For All

 

 

Another way to make your character’s murder believable is to have the victim know something that gets them killed.  Robin Caroll did this very successfully in her novel INJUSTICE FOR ALL. In this case the murder victim is a federal judge and his FBI profiler god-daughter, Remington Wyatt, is forced to change her identity, go into hiding, and run for her life.

 

 

Perilous Shadows

 

 

The third novel in my historical whodunit series, PERILOUS SHADOWS, starts right off at the beginning with a body, that of a pretty, young coed. There is no immediately discernible reason why this young lady was killed. However, as this mid-1940s psychological mystery unfolds the reader realizes most of the characters have something to hide, including the victim.

 

 

Knife Photo courtesy of stock.xchange image # 1115700


Wind Over Marshdale by Tracy Krauss ~ A Review

Wind Over Marshdale

This one is a class act. Author Tracy Krauss constructs a tale tackling gossip, prejudice, sexual misconduct, dysfunctional family issues, alcoholism, the logistics of post-modern dating, and murder. Quite often as the author weaves her tale, she glides into passages of elegant prose. The settings are spectacular.

WIND OVER MARSHDALE won in the Grace Awards 2012 Mystery/Romantic Suspense/Thriller category. The story opens in a somewhat eerie manner that is compelling and draws the reader in.

We meet Thomas Lone Wolf, a modern day Native American warrior-type, who comes to Marshdale with his two children planning to open a cultural center on what is considered sacred ground by the Cree nation, his people. As a committed Christian, he finds his belief in the Lord doesn’t easily coexist with the pagan beliefs of his ancestors, whose heritage he is striving to honor. It doesn’t help that he’s found the worst kind of prejudice within the walls of the church in town he and his children have chosen to attend. I have to admit, for more than half of the book, he was my favorite character. When he started having serious spirituality issues, my heart bled for him. He was that real to me.

Rachel Bosworth has taken a position as kindergarten teacher in the elementary school trying to escape betrayal and the emotional abuse of her toxic family. Having left a cheating boyfriend behind in the city, she’s not looking for emotional entanglements in backwater Marshdale. Her resolve seems to evaporate when meeting two strong men, Thomas Lone Wolf and rancher Con McKinley. She is not a believer and the two men are. I found it on point when she decides the best thing she can do is help Con get over his pre-marital sexual hang ups. This is how nonChristian singles think. And the somewhat ribald sexual banter the female teachers engage in over adult beverages at the local watering hole, expressing their desire to find the companionship of a good man, came across as authentic.

Con McKinley, a man strong in his faith whose family has deep roots in the community, falls hard for Rachel. Then he finds out she was seeing Thomas Lone Wolf at very time she began dating him. This however isn’t the most troubling issue as far as he is concerned. In his values-set, Rachel’s lack of faith is a far greater obstacle to an enduring relationship. When he backs away from her for that very reason, she becomes angry and resentful. The characters are real. They have real foibles, real pain. They don’t do what the reader will want them to do, or expect them to do.

This is quite a ride, an amazing romantic thriller with more twists and turns than are easily counted. There is suspense galore, though the murder, which is a sad state of affairs, isn’t the main thrust of this novel. Some might call it edgy Christian fiction. I think of it as an accurate portrayal in fiction of what’s really out there in America today.

Purchase Links:

Amazon/Kindle. http://amzn.to/15ZPX4v

Barnes and Noble/Nook. http://bit.ly/1eOmXxy


9/11 ~ A Bitter Sweet Remembrance and a Look Forward

World Trade Center Cross

 

 

Today even if we don’t want to remember, even if it’s still too painful all these years later,we remember.

 

 

 

There was the moment of silence this morning observed by the president. The names will be read off at the Pentagon, in a field in Pennsylvania and in New York.

World Trade Center Cross

And now we’ve got to remember 9/11/1012 and the terrorist attack on our consulate in Benghazi. For many our minds can’t help but drift to the Boston bombing and the devastation pain and suffering there. This is not easy to do…this looking at horrific events and seeing them for what they are. We don’t want to look at such ugliness. We are a hard working people, trying to provide for our families. And yet a world-wide war of terrorism seems to be creeping up on us. We’re now teetering on the brink of war with Syria.

America needs straight talk to come out of Washington, DC. We need our leaders to have a strategy extending passed next month. What will be the consequences of our actions? Who will benefit? Will our actions bring stability or greater instability in the long term? We need our elected officials to do their homework and answer the hard questions for us. We, the American people have the right to know.


Shakespeare’s ‘Cymbeline’ Turned Into A Cop Movie ~ Filmed in Brooklyn! Where Else?


IMG_0282

 

 

 

 

 

 

School starts tomorrow, so darling daughter and I went to Applebee’s in Sheepshead Bay Brooklyn to celebrate with a mother-daughter lunch. On the way home we stopped to take pictures at one of the locations where the new movie adaptation of Shakespeare’s play Cymbeline is being filmed.

 

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This modern day reimagining of Shakespeare’s story is set in a 21st century American city and will depict an epic battle between dirty cops and a drug dealing biker gang

 

 

Styled after the explosive FX series Sons of Anarchy, Cymbeline will venture into the age old themes of love, betrayal, and revenge.

 

IMG_0283

 

 

 

Anton Yelchin (Star Trek) and Dakota Johnson (21 Jump Street) join a cast including Ethan Hawke, Ed Harris, and Milla Jovovich.  The film is produced by Anthony Katagas (12 Years A Slave, The Immigrant, Killing Them Softly). The location for filming is where Knapp Street meets Voorhies Avenue. This is the border of the Sheepshead Bay and Gerritsen Beach communities which were both hit hard and have not fully recovered from Hurricane Sandy. So, this commercial activity is most welcome.

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South East Brooklyn

Marine Pk Marsh

I abide in South East Brooklyn…I live there.

Most people don’t realize there are marshes in Brooklyn. When they think marshes their minds drift to Louisiana, south Florida, never Brooklyn. The truth is quite beautiful marshes and protected wetlands stretch for miles.  The photo at right is of Gerritsen Beach, not technically part of South East Brooklyn, but nearby.  NETWORK THAN DIE, a contemporary whodunit I hope to release next year, opens with a body on a reedy beach in Gerritsen Beach. Hurricane Sandy kind of messed me up by decimating Gerritsen Beach and I’m going to have rewrite a bit to be accurate about the local scenery and neighborhoods.

Barren Island, Bergen Beach, Flatlands, Georgetown, Marine Park, and Mill Basin are the local communities in South East Brooklyn. It’s a hop-skip-and-a-jump from the Queens border and an easy drive to Long Island.

Out of towners think Brooklynites are rude and don’t speak well. You know…they think we say dees, and dems, and doughs. And you’ll find some of that. There’s even a Brooklyn neighborhood-style walk. The shoulders swing back and forth in opposition to the stride of the feet. Sometimes the head bobs up and down, but only slightly. To get the full effect, it helps a lot if you’re wearing a black leather jacket and dark glasses.

I know the South East Brooklyn where the neighborhoods used to be populated with Italians, Irish, and Jews. The Irish were cops, the Jews were the teachers and accountants, and the Italians were in the construction trades unions, or some will claim, in the mob. Now you’ll see turbans and saris on the streets. Tonight is Rosh Hashanah and I can hear my religious Jewish neighbors blowing the shofar as they usher in the Jewish New Year.

It’s all changed and yet it’s all still the same.


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