Category Archives: Writer’s Craft

Long Island Romance Writers Spring Luncheon 2016

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Long Island Romance Writers, Inc. celebrated their 19th Annual Agent/Editor Luncheon on Friday, May 6, 2016, at the one of the loveliest venues in Nassau County, Fox Hollow Country Club. This was the place to be for romance authors, editors, and agents.

 

 

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Thee grounds sported lovely gardens and cascading fountains, not to mention an impressive outdoor fireplace.

 

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I understand the event started seventeen years ago as a Victorian tea in a member’s back yard and has grown to a gala event.

 

 

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My dear friend, author Jenna Victoria, is the Luncheon Committee Chair of the Long Island Chapter of RWA. I’m sure that means she’s the chief cook and bottle washer. At any event, she did a smashing job.

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This year’s keynote speaker was Leah Hultenschmidt, Editorial Director for Forever and Forever Yours at Grand Central Publishing. With quite a bit of wit and style, she spoke on trends in the romance publishing industry.

 

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After a scrumptious lunch, the afternoon ended with winners announced of lovely raffle baskets. That was followed by the event’s ever popular ice-cream sundae buffet, for which there was quite a long line.

 

 

 

 


The Scribblers Take Over Camp DeWolfe

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The Scribblers writing group held a one day workshop at Camp DeWolfe camp and retreat center in Wading River, on the North Fork of Long Island.

 

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So, you’re wondering how a gal from Brooklyn got to a workshop on the North Fork. Well, that’s easy. I was the guest of Long Island author Jenna Victoria.

 

 

 

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The house where the event was held has an interesting history. During World War II, FBI agents posing as enemy spies used this house to send radio messages with misinformation (or as they say, “disinformation”) to Germany across the Atlantic Ocean.

 

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We were greeted with a table full of homemade goodies. This was no low-cal, low-carb situation. I can personally attest to the fact that the chocolate-chip blondies were amazing. The bunt cake was scrumptious with an incredible lemon icing. ~ Yes, I had more than one piece.

 

 

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We broke up, each to find our own cozy place to write. This was my room.

I worked on the chapter which is the darkest moment in DEADLY DESIGNS, the second novel in the Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels/Dawson Hughes series

 

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This was our group at the Scribblers’ Writing Workshop. There I am in the back left. Long Island Sound is behind us.

 

 

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Though not visible, Connecticut is across the sound and is also the setting of DEADLY DESIGNS.

So, I stood on the bluff and thought a few things through about where my plot twists would wind up.


A Writer’s Week Long Vacay in NW PA with My Daughter

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I’m in the wilds of northwest PA taking a little vacay to write. My daughter Alyssa decided to tag along for some relaxation in the country. Here I’m grilling in the back of our townhouse apartment.

 

 

IMG_1150I’ve turned our little dining area into a writer’s work station. So far I’ve done a complete read through of the thirteen chapters I’ve got so far in book #2 in the Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels/Dawson Hughes series, DEADLY DESIGNS…for continuity…and I’ve written another chapter.

 

 

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This is our living room.

 

 

 

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Alyssa at the small indoor pool which is a short walk from our townhouse. There is also an outdoor Olympic size pool, a medium sized outdoor pool, and two lakefront beaches on the property.

 

 

 

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Walking is HUGE on this property. Of course you have your runners, but most people walk for exercise, recreation, and socializing. They go out alone and in groups. They take their babies in strollers and toddlers on tricycles with them. I took a half mile walk yesterday afternoon and while I was at it got an outdoor shot of our indoor swimming pool and its picnic pavilion.

 

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Most evenings, after we grill our hamburgers or chicken outside, I build a fire in our little campfire circle. Every unit has one and a grill.

 

 

 

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The back of our townhouse apartment is on a golf green and at dusk we get the same four visitors every evening. A momma and pappa deer and two yearlings.

 

 

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Dialect ~ Lend Me Thine Ear

Harmful Intent, Amazon SmWhen writing my contemporary novel, HARMFUL INTENT, where my Brooklyn born and bred female PI is place in Texas, I had to get the rhythm and tone of the Texas accent right. So I listened to hours Kenneth Copeland tapes. I compared Copeland’s voice to that of his wife Gloria and also a bit to their son John.

Kenneth Copeland likes to throw in little tidbits about Texas life and has quite a few stories to tell. In a few instances, I stole from him. I don’t feel too bad because I understand his long time friend Jerry Savalle has also stolen from his sermons over the years.

Now that I’m writing my next detective novel, set in the north east, I find myself listening to hours of Mel Brooks and Billy Crystal tapes on You Tube to get the cadence and tone of my Jewish political activist character down pat.

A quick look at the story line of HARMFUL INTENT…

Betrayal runs in private investigator Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels’ family. So, why is she surprised when her husband of one year cheats on her? The real shock is his murder, with the local lawman pegging her as the prime suspect.

Ronnie Ingels is a Brooklyn bred private investigator who travels to west Texas, where her cheating husband is murdered. As she hunts the killer to clear her name, she becomes the hunted.

Deputy Sergeant Dawson Hughes, a former Army Ranger, is a man folks want on their side. Only he’s not so sure at first, he’s on the meddling New York PI’s side. As the evidence points away from her, he realizes the more she butts in, the more danger she attracts to herself.

Sweet, askance romance, warm intimacy, sophisticated themes presented tastefully.

Purchase Link/Amazon

 


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


How I Connect Creating a Character From Someone I Know in Life and the NYPD’s Safe Surrender Program

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The sign on the church building behind the NYC Courts’ vehicle says:  Safe Surrender Program

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I’ve had my eye on a particular kid for a while. She can be rather charming at times, especially if it might get her something. She has been known to be helpful, even sensitive to others. But that’s not what grabs my attention. What pulls my character locator toward her is that most of the time she’s totally self-centered and has a dangerously myopic view of life and the world. That’s true of most teens, but she’s perfected the art form.

Of course, when crafting a character based upon someone from real life, I change quite a few details. Hair color, age, height, gender. So, while observing a rebellious female minor child, I might be creating a male nineteen year old with the same psychological profile. Or I might be creating an 18 year old female character who bears no physical resemblance.

So, when this young lady’s father mentioned he had received a letter from St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church which had “avoid arrest” stamped on the outside, I became intrigued. Dad explained the letter outlined the NYPD’s Safe Surrender Program, which while not an amnesty program, still does provide those who show up and face the misdemeanor charges against them some due consideration in sentencing. His daughter denied getting a summons. She became belligerent, claiming the letter was bogus. She contended the church had no authority over her anyway. Her dad explained to her the program was run by the New York City Police Department. At that point she left the table. The dad felt legally and ethically he had to go answer the summons whether his daughter went or not. Naturally, I made myself available to go as moral support.

I wanted to find out what this was all about. And frankly, I wanted to see if I could ever use something like this in a prospective story.

The Safe Surrender Program was held at St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church at 4301 Avenue D, Brooklyn, NY. The Rev. Cn Dr. Howard K. Williams is the pastor. The church motto is, “To restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” It was held in collaboration with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, the Office of Court Administration, the New York City Police Department, and the Legal Aid Society. Residents of Brooklyn who had outstanding summonses and/or warrants had the opportunity to come to the church and peacefully resolve those legal issues on Friday, August 16 and Saturday, August 17, 2013. Those who participated were given legal representation by attorneys from the Legal Aid Society or the Metropolitan Black Bar. Volunteers from the Brooklyn clergy community were on site to offer support and to offer resources that previously might not have been available. Police were on the street outside the church, but there wasn’t much of a police presence inside the sanctuary itself.

As soon as I arrived at the church with the “Dad”, he produced the letter and was asked for identification and he was given a purple wristband. I was told that once inside only he could represent his daughter and that I’d have to sit on one side of the sanctuary reserved for family and friends. We walked in and he was ushered into a closed off area at the back of the church to complete paperwork. I was ushered by an elderly church gentleman to a seat in the pews to the right side of the center aisle. A woman standing in the front with a microphone sang gospel songs.

After completing the necessary paperwork, he was ushered to the other side of the sanctuary where those with outstanding summonses or warrants sat. I estimated there were about one hundred and fifty individuals, the vast majority men, mostly black or Hispanic. These were not hardened criminals, but were individuals who had received misdemeanor tickets.  Everything was calm and going along in an orderly fashion. Except there was a fifty-something gentleman who was obviously inebriated. I could only wonder if his summons had been for consumption of alcohol in public.  With nothing much to do, I picked up a flier that said: No More Worry, No More Waiting. It listed some of the offenses that would be handled that day.

  • Unlawful Possession of Marijuana
  • Unlawful Possession of Alcohol under the age of 21
  • Consumption of Alcohol in Public
  • Unlawful Possession of Handcuffs
  • Littering
  • Riding a Bicycle on the Sidewalk
  • Making Unreasonable Noise
  • Animal Nuisance
  • Failure to have a Dog License
  • Spitting
  • Trespass
  • Disorderly Conduct
  • In the Park After Closing
  • Failure to Comply with a Posted Sign in Park
  • Transit Adjudication Summons (or for those who don’t live in Gotham, jumping the turn-style without paying the fare)

We sat there over five hours. The singer who was actually more of a mistress of ceremonies tried to keep everyone’s spirits up. She mentioned she also sang rhythm and blues in a club in Downtown Brooklyn and launched into a couple of tunes by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. After that we were given a pep-talk and a short, and extremely sweet moral lesson by a rabbit hand puppet named Natasha. Quite an accomplished teenage girls’ liturgical dance team performed two numbers to contemporary Christian music.

This seemed to me to be a very worthwhile community based program. The mistress of ceremonies told us it would be repeated in the fall at another church, that one in downtown Brooklyn. I was only sad that the young lady in question had not taken the opportunity to settle her outstanding legal issues. The woman judge the dad stood before was not pleased that the girl had not shown up. The judge would have dismissed all charges, but instead gave the girl another court date in September. Naturally, I indulged in a bittersweet moment of self-interest. I can do quite a lot with an irresponsible character like this in one of my upcoming novels…only the consequences for the young lady or young man (whatever gender I chose to make the character), might not have such a peaceful end result. I write murder mysteries after all.

For more information call: 718-250-3888

http://www.projectsafesurrender.org

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http://www.staugustinesbrooklyn.org/Pages/ministries.html


Must Read Blogs For The Crime Fiction Writers ~ Researching

Mark Young’s Hook ’em and Book ’em blog is one of my personal favorites. It’s a blog that’s always interesting and topical.


Hook ’em and Book ’em. http://hookembookem.blogspot.com/

 

 

 

I took a Romance Writers of America (RWA) course on the History of Forensics given by Doug Lyle and it was fantastic…just as his The Writer’s Forensic Blog is.

 

The Writer’s Forensic Blog.  http://writersforensicsblog.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

On Lee Lofland’s blog The Graveyard Shift, a writer can learn to cook with cops and also find out about a myriad of things law enforcement officers face every day.


The Graveyard Shift. http://www.leelofland.com/wordpress/home/

 



On the Law and Fiction blog, Leslie Budewitz, author of Books, Crooks and Counselors, will tell you whats going on with the Supreme Court, at the state court level…or you might just get a Saturday writing quote.


Law and Fiction.  http://www.lawandfiction.com/blog/

 
A blog I find myself going back to repeatedly is PoliceOne.com. You can find so much info here from breaking police news to article on the police wife and a policeman’s life. http://www.policeone.com/police-blogs/


If you need to know what’s going on with the Supreme Court of the United States, you can’t beat the SCOTUS blog sponsored by Bloomberg Law. http://www.scotusblog.com/


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