30 December 2012

A WRITER'S YEAR THAT WAS


FERGUS

The year started out quietly with Fergus beginning 2012 in his favourite place.  Atop the keys.  Ready for work!










 
MOZART
Mozart preferred to dream about the year ahead.  The fine cuisine he would be served, his morning stroll in the garden, the shadows on the walls he would spend time chasing, not to mention all those wonderful places he would find to curl up in and sleep.



 I decided to follow Mozart's lead.  That is, to contemplate and plan the next 12 months, Oh, yes, and write Chapter 13 of Once Upon A LieI thought Fiji, in the South Pacific, would be the best place to do this.

 


'The best laid plans...' as they say.
I thought about it and just contemplated.












Back to the real world and walks on foggy winter mornings.




Obviously being observed by this early morning riser.











By May I thought a bit of research for Once Upon A Lie wouldn't go amiss, so I took myself off to the sparkling waters of Sydney Harbour to look, specifically, at yachts.







Strangely enough, this led me to New Zealand.  I'm not sure why, but I enjoyed it, and wrote Chapter 26.




At least, I did after I got to the other side of this wiggly bridge.  Whose idea was this, anyway?  I suspect, the person behind that camera!





More scenery!  Chapter 29 will have to wait.











And here we are, already, at the end of 2012.
Fergus is in the IN box waiting for the next chapter.  And Mozart and me?  Well, we're contemplating and planning 2013!
 












28 December 2012

eBOOK GIVEAWAY
28-30 December 
A Fitzjohn Mystery
Smashwords Coupon Code GJ73S


University professor Alex Wearing is found murdered in his study by the Post Graduate Co-coordinator, Vera Trenbath, a nosey interfering busybody. Assigned to the case is Detective Chief Inspector Alistair Fitzjohn. Fitzjohn is a detective from the old guard, whose methodical, painstaking methods are viewed by some as archaic. His relentless pursuit for the killer zeros in on 

Alex’s brother, James, as a key suspect in his investigation.
Compelled to clear himself of suspicion, James starts his own investigation and finds himself immersed in a web of intrigue, ultimately uncovering long hidden secrets about his brother’s life that could easily be the very reasons he was murdered.

This gripping tale of murder and suspense winds its way through the university’s hallowed halls to emerge into the beautiful, yet unpredictable, Blue Mountain region where more challenges and obstacles await James in his quest to clear himself of suspicion and uncover the truth about his brother.

19 December 2012

'The Next Big Thing blog hop': My WIP


I’ve been tagged by Malla Duncan http://malladuncan.wordpress.com to join this blog hop.  So when you leave here, you might like to check out Malla’s blog.

The rules of the blog hop are simple: Answer ten questions about your WIP (Work in Progress) and tag five more writers/bloggers to do the same.  A chain of links will lead you to a forest of wonderful writers all busy creating new books for the hungry reading public.

It'll be interesting to see what everyone is working on. Here is my contribution to the chain.

What is the working title of your book?

“Once Upon A Lie”

 Where did the idea come from for your book?
  
Once Upon A Lie is the third book in the Fitzjohn Mystery Series and DCI Fitzjohn’s third case.  I love to read mysteries and try to solve the puzzle(s) so my aim with this book is to create a story that sends Fitzjohn on a paper-trail into a tangled web of deception, jealousy and greed that unravels the mystery surrounding the victim’s death.
  
What genre does your book fall under?

Police Procedural, Suspense, Cosy Mystery:  Set in Sydney, Australia
  
What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I’d have to give this some thought because I’ve never imagined this happening.  Fitzjohn is middle aged with a rotund shape so.  Does that mean I’d have to look for a plump actor?

What is the one sentence synopsis for your book?

Little did, businessman and entrepreneur, Michael Rossi know that the telephone call he answered on that fateful Friday would be the catalyst for his death, and the subsequent recovery of his body from the waters of Sydney Harbour the following morning.
  
Will your book be self published or represented by an agency?

I’ve been down the traditional publishing road so Once Upon A Lie will be self published.

How long did it take to write the first draft of your book?

My first draft took me about 5 months, mainly because the plot is rather complex.

What other books would you compare this story to other books within your genre?

Goodness, can I compare my book with Agatha Christie’s stories.  Or perhaps a more recent writer, Sarah Graves.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

By the time I’d finished writing my first book, The Celtic Dagger, I’d become so attached to Detective Chief Inspector Fitzjohn that I decided to make it a series.  Once Upon A Lie is the third book in that series.


What else about the book might pique the readers interest?

It probably would interest those who love a mystery without the gore.  My murder mysteries tend to be cosy with lots of suspense.

Blogs I’m tagging:-





15 December 2012

BOOK REVIEW


by JoJo Moyes

The Girl You Left Behind is set in two eras.  1917 during WWI and the present day.  It tells the story of Sophie Lefevre, the wife of Edouard, a French artist, and Liv Halston, the widow of a prominent architect whose untimely death has brought her life to a stand-still.  The two women are linked through time by a painting.  Edouard’s portrait of Sophie.
When Edouard goes to fight at the Front,  Sophie leaves Paris and returns to her village, taking the portrait with her.  When her village is occupied by German troops, and the new Kommandant becomes obsessed with the painting, Sophie finds herself risking her reputation and her life.
Almost a century later, and shortly before his death, David Halston gives Sophie’s portrait to his wife Liv.  In her grief, it becomes Liv's life line.
Thought provoking and compelling, The Girl You Left Behind is a great read.  Sophie Lefevre’s character, is particularly poignant. I became so immersed in her story in 1917 that it took me a few pages to adjust myself to Part 2 and the present day.  I need not have worried, however, because I, again, became captivated as the story unravelled.
This is the second JoJo Moyes book I’ve read, the first being Ship of Brides.  Another excellent read.


9 December 2012

MYSTERY WRITERS OF THE PAST - Dame Agatha Mary Carissa Christie 1890-1976

Yet another mystery writer from the past, and one of my favourites; Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, better know as Agatha Christie.  The youngest of three children, Agatha Christie spent her childhood at Ashfield, the family home, in Torquay, Devon.

In 1914, at the beginning of WWI, she married Archibald Christie.  During the war years while her husband was away, she became a nurse in the Voluntary Air Detachment of the Red Cross Hospital in Torquay, eventually working in the dispensary after passing the Society of Apothecaries examination.  

The Mysterious Affair at Styles
After the war ended, she and Archie moved into "Styles", the house they named after Agatha's first book, The Mysterious Affair at Styles.

This book, featuring Hercule Poirot, the famous Belgium detective, launched Agatha Christie's writing career.

Agatha's marriage to Archibald Christie ended in 1926.




Murder in Mesopotamia
In 1930, she married Max Mallowan, an archaeologist.  Agatha Christie accompanied Max on his annual expeditions to Iraq and Syria for the next 30 years.  She describes her travels in a memoir entitled Come Tell Me How You Live.

I imagine that many of the settings for her books were inspired by her travels in the Middle East. Books such as Murder in Mesopotamia and Murder on the Orient Express.

Murder on the Orient Express


A prolific writer, Agatha Christie wrote 66 detective novels, over 20 short stories, more than 17 plays, not to mention other works.








And Then There Were None



She is the author of the world's best selling mystery, And Then There Were None with 100 million copies sold, to date.  

Her play The Mousetrap opened in London in 1952 and is still running in 2012. 




Other mystery writers of the past
NGAIO MARSH 1895-1982
ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE 1859-1930

1 December 2012

MYSTERY WRITERS OF THE PAST-Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle (1859-1930)

As a mystery writer, I've always been interested in mystery writers of the past.  Once such figure is, Scottish physician and writer, Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle.  Perhaps better known as Conan Doyle, the creator of that famous fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes.


Sherlock Holmes
Like so many of us, Conan Doyle didn't start out to be a writer, but a physician.  After studying medicine at the University of Edinburgh, he commenced his medical career as ship's doctor on the SS Majumba, travelling to the West Coast of Africa in 1881.  On his return in 1882, he set up a medical practice in Southsea, Portsmouth.  It was there he started to write while waiting for his medical practice to grow. The results were, The Mystery of Coomber, published in 1888 and, Narrative of John Smith, interestingly not published until 2011.

Conan Doyle's most famous character, Sherlock Holmes, didn't make an appearance until 1887 with the publication of A Study in Scarlet.  A fictional detective famous for his powers of observation and deduction, it's said that Holmes is modeled after Dr Joseph Bell who Conan Doyle had worked for at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh.

Doyle wrote 4 books and 56 short stories in the Sherlock Holmes mystery series, finishing with the death of Sherlock Holmes as well as, his nemisis, Professor Moriarty.  Such was the popularity of the series, however, Conan Doyle wrote another Holmes story in 1901 entitled, The Hound of the Baskervilles.


Conan Doyle's home-Little Windlesham
Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle died on 7th July 1930.

And would you believe that, like so many of us, he found it difficult to find someone to publish his work when he was starting out!

Other mystery writers of the past:-
AGATHA CHRISIE 1890-1976
NGAIO MARSH 1895-1982




17 November 2012

BOOK REVIEW

Whisper On The Wind
by Elizabeth Elgin
If you enjoy reading books about life in England during the Second World War then don’t go past Elizabeth Elgin’s, Whisper On The Wind.

It’s the story about, Kath Allen, a girl from Birmingham who joins the Land Army and is sent to work on a farm in Yorkshire.  There she meets Roz Fairchild, the heir to Ridings, a once grand country estate. Together Kath and Roz cope with life as it was in time of war, toiling on the land, coping with rationing, falling in love, and experiencing sorrow.

In this wonderful story, you will be whisked back in time to the Yorkshire countryside.  To the fragrance of honeysuckle, the sound of Lancaster bombers return to Pendlesbury air field in the crisp morning air, and you will also discover the mystery surrounding the Fairchilds.

13 November 2012

SELF PUBLISHING YOUR MANUSCRIPT, WITH IMAGES, ON KINDLE DIRECT PUBLISHING


Your manuscript (DOC file), complete with images of the author and, perhaps, other titles by that author, is finished and you are ready to upload it onto the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) site for publication as an eBook.  So, how do you do this?

Save your manuscript in HTML format
Firstly, you need to save your manuscript(DOC file) again.  This time in HTML format.
  • (Save as “Web page, filtered”)
  • When you do this, an image folder and a parent HTML file will be created.
  • You will find your photographs in the image folder and your manuscript in the parent HTML file.

Secondly, in order to upload this image folder and the parent HTML file successfully to Kindle Direct Publishing, you need to send it in a Compressed (zipped) Folder.  You do this as follows:-

Create a Compressed (zipped) Folder
  • right click a blank area on your desktop
  • click New on the menu that appears
  • and then click Compressed (zipped) Folder on the next menu
  • type a name for the new compressed folder, and then press Enter.
  • Your new compressed folder is displayed on your Desktop as a folder icon with a zipper on it.

Uploading your zipped folder onto KDP
Now, all you have to do is drag the image folder and the HTML file containing your manuscript, into the zipped folder.  This zipped folder is what you will upload onto the KDP website when you are ready to publish your eBook.

Questions anyone?

2 November 2012

AUTHOR INTERVIEW


Today, I have the pleasure of introducing you to a wonderful man by the name of Otis Ritch.  Otis is a Choctaw Indian and author of Where Eagles Soar.  Good morning, Otis, I’m so pleased you've been able to join us here on The Perfect Plot.


Please tell us about Where Eagles Soar.

OTIS: Where Eagles Soar is the first book in the SkyHawk series of spiritual adventure novels.  In this book a young Choctaw Indian man, wanting to rest and regenerate after a three year job that was exhausting mentally and physically, goes to the mountains in Sedona Arizona to rest and relax.  But instead of getting to rest he has to rescue a young Apache Indian Princess from a kidnapper and then he has to track down and catch a mountain lion that was killing people.  The story ends up being somewhat of a love story and he also gains the perfection he had been training for all his life.


It sounds like an exciting story with not only suspense, but also romance.  What inspired you to write it, Otis?

OTIS:  There have been thousands of things written about American Indian culture, ceremonies, traditions, etc., yet there has been virtually nothing written about American Indian Spiritual philosophy.  I thought it was time that the world knew something about the spiritual philosophy American Indians practice in their daily lives.  In this SkyHawk series I have inserted the most comprehensive and profound American Indian spiritual philosophy that has ever been written.  I put it in the form of grandfather teachings and the thoughts work into the story.


And as I've read Where Eagles Soar, I can say that I found these grandfather teachings both inspirational and uplifting.
As the first book in the series, how many books will the series encompass?

OTIS: I have completed nine books in this series and the series is finished.  There is another story that I have been thinking about writing that would be a spin-off of this series.  If I write it, I will wait until some other projects are finished first.  I am a little over half way done with the writing of a science fiction novel at this time.


You mentioned earlier that Where Eagles Soar is a spiritual adventure and romance.  What attracted you to this genre?

OTIS:  American Indians are always a good subject to write about and they make interesting characters to read about.  I like adventure stories and I think all books that are written about people should have a little romance in them.


I totally agree.  Where would we be without romance?
Do you have a favourite character and if so, why?

OTIS:  In the books I have written I think I like Johnny SkyHawk the best of all the characters I have used.  I think the reason is that the training and living the life to gain perfection is something that I like and I try to follow a path of truth, beauty, and goodness which I write about in this series.  When a person can become a perfected mortal of the realm—an Impeccable Warrior, they can do much good for people and for the world.

There was a medicine man in Oklahoma who was an Impeccable Warrior.  His brother was shot in the stomach and was in the hospital in critical condition.  He went into the room and stayed about thirty minutes and when he came out his brother was completely healed and didn’t even have a scar.  The doctors were amazed and wanted to know what he had done.  He wouldn’t tell them anything and finally the doctors got the police involved.  They put him in jail and he never would tell them anything.  They finally turned him loose.  He lived a full life and did a lot of good for his people and finally decided to continue his universe career and laid his body down and went to the Mansion Worlds.  His brother is the medicine man now and is doing a lot of good for the people.  Most American Indians try to walk a path following the leading of the Great Spirit in their everyday life.

Landscape near Sedona, Arizona

A fascinating story, Otis, about the mysteries we come across, and also how intolerant society can be sometimes when we don't understand a situation. Perhaps Where Eagles Soar will help in that regard.
The book is set in the mountains around Sedona, Arizona and your knowledge of the area is evident in your writing.  Can you tell us how you acquired your knowledge?

OTIS:  I grew up in the desert southwest in the Casa Grande valley in Arizona.  I lived in Arizona for a lot of my life and got to know the state fairly well.  I took a trip to Sedona, Arizona before I wrote the book.  I stayed a few days to refresh my memory of the country.  Sedona is what I call high desert country.  There are mountains there but the vegetation is still a mix between the desert and mountain country.  In the next book in the series, Spirit Of The Wolf, the setting is in and around Stigler Oklahoma.  I was born in Stigler and know the country there fairly well.

Arizona is such a beautiful place.  I’ve always thought that one of the advantages of writing a book is that it gives one an excuse to travel in order to do the research.
Your main character, Johnny SkyHawk is a Choctaw Indian.  Can you tell us about your people, Otis?

OTIS:  The Choctaws are one of the five Civilized tribes.  I have never understood why they were designated like that but perhaps it is because they were civilized and had thriving communities when the white man came to America.  Choctaws were living in houses and had farms and ranches as well as towns.  The U.S. Government forced them to give up the most fertile land in America in Mississippi and forced marched them in the worst winter in recorded history to Oklahoma where the land is very poor and not good farmland at all.  Half the ones forced on the march died along the way.  Choctaws are an intelligent and peaceful people and are spiritual in nature.  They are good farmers and ranchers and live close to nature.  They do all they can to protect and nurture wild life.
Cathedral Rock


One would hope that mankind learns from history.  And all the more reason for you to have written the SkyHawk series, Otis.
I loved reading the teachings of Johnny SkyHawk’s grandfather.  Were these the teachings you were taught as a child?

OTIS:  Actually these are things I have learned through my life’s experiences.  I like to meditate in a quiet setting and when I talk to the Great Spirit thoughts like these come into my mind.


What do you hope your readers take away with them after reading your stories?

OTIS:  In the grandfather teachings is the formula to follow to become a perfected mortal of the realm.  It is my hope that by reading my books that the readers will have the desire to start their own search for higher spiritual truths.  It is time that the human race grow up and mature and start practicing love and harmony instead of greed and selfishness.  It is my hope that my writings will inspire people to seek for a more harmonious life and seek out the Great Spirit to lead them into perfection.

Cathedral Rock


Otis, you’re not only a writer but a master leather worker too.  How did you learn your craft?

OTIS:  I always liked to make things out of leather and as an adult I had an opportunity to work with a man in Austin, Texas many years ago that was a very good leather carver.  While I was working there, I also had an opportunity to meet the x-head boot maker for one of the best boot companies in the country.  This was when the custom boot craze was sweeping the country.  He had his own shop when I met him and he taught me how to make boots.  At the time, he had four years of orders to fill.  I made cowboy boots for a number of years and I also carve pictures out of leather.

As can be seen by these photographs.
What do you have in store next for your readers?

OTIS:  I’m in the process of writing a Si-Fi novel at this time and I am not sure what I will write after that.  I have twenty two books completed at this time.



You’re a prolific writer, Otis.  
What’s your writing process?  Do you plan your manuscripts before you start writing or do you start writing and see where the story takes you?

OTIS:  I generally will think about a story that would be good reading and then I decide how many chapters it will have and how many pages for the chapters and how many pages in the book.  Then I sit down and start writing.  I pretty much let the story take it’s own course.  I enjoy writing the story because I am reading it for the first time as I am writing it.  I am just like any reader—I want to see what is going to happen next.

Do you have a favorite place and time to write?

OTIS:  Not really.  I just write when I am relaxed and can be uninterrupted.  It seems as if I have to do a lot of my writing five minutes at a time when I can grab a chance.


What do you find is the hardest part of writing?

OTIS:  When I get into the story a way and hit a writer’s block where I don’t know what to say next.  Or sometimes I get interrupted and have to put my writing aside for a while and when I can get back to it a few days later I can’t remember my train of thought and have to read everything and see if I can remember what I was thinking when I had to put it down.


I know the feeling.  Life gets in the way!
Of all the characters you’ve created, does one hold a special place in your heart, and if so, why?

OTIS:  Actually there are two characters I have written about that are my favorites.  One is Johnny SkyHawk in my SkyHawk series because he was the character I used in portraying all the American Indian spiritual philosophy I wrote about in the grandfather teachings.  The second was “Charlie” a character in my Chosen One Si-Fi series.  The second book in that series is called Resplendently Alien, and Charlie was the main character.


How much research do you do for your books?

OTIS: I research locations if I don’t know much about them.  Other than that I write about what I know or else I write stories that are entertaining and fast paced that I would like to read and think would appeal to others as well.


Do you have any words of advice for aspiring writers?

OTIS: Yes, be aware that writing is addictive—once you start you feel compelled to keep writing.  Also as a first time author don’t set down to write a book—it is hard when you do that.  It is much better when writing a book to sit down to write a sentence.  Everyone can write a sentence.  After you write the sentence it will soon become a paragraph and then before you know it you have completed a chapter and soon you have written a book.



Such good advice, Otis, because the thought of writing a book can be daunting.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

OTIS:  Try to do some good for yourself and others while you are on this Earth.  It is time for all mankind to learn to embrace love, harmony, and compassion.  If life—intelligent life is to have any meaning and value it must be found on a spiritual path.


Wise words from a wise man.
Where can readers learn more about you and find your books on the web?

OTIS:  I have all my books listed on the book list page of my website.  These include the first five books in the SkyHawk series in paperback, and available for purchase on my website by pressing the Pay Pal button.  www.soaringeagleenterprises.net

Also if you use the following Barnes & Noble link, you will find up to 22 books I have written.
One final thing I would like to leave with you is a Grandfather Blessing I wrote in one of my SkyHawk novels.

A SkyHawk Grandfather Blessing
May you always walk in beauty as you follow the leading of the Great Spirit as he ever leads you along the path to perfection.
May your days be filled with cloudless skies so you may enjoy the wonders of nature that the Great Spirit has spread before you.
May your nights be full of stars in the sky to bring wonders to your mind, love in your heart, and spiritual awareness to soothe your soul.
May your life be filled with joy and the abundant happiness that comes with the presence of the Great Spirit in your mind to give you comfort and lift your burdens.
May your mind be filled with gladness, your heart filled with joy, and your soul filled with peace as you walk with grace upon a path of truth, beauty, and goodness.
Otis Ritch 4-24-07

Thank you for being here with us today, Otis, and for sharing your words.

Otis Ritch
I am a wild Choctaw Indian from the Mudlark bottoms in Stigler Oklahoma. As a child I grew up in the desert Southwest, in and around the Casa Grande Valley in Arizona. I spent many happy hours roaming the desert and mountains learning about the animal and plant life there and why there are sea shells on the tops of the mountains. The desert can be a harsh teacher where death can come quickly to those not prepared for the constant dangers that exist. There are rattlesnakes and Gila monsters as well as coyotes, wolves, skunks, wild hogs, cougars, scorpions and centipedes. The desert is also a beautiful place that is full of life and adventure. In the solitude one can take the time to meditate and contemplate on life and the reasons thereof.


Where Eagles Soar
by Otis D. Ritch

Set in the mountain region outside Sedona, Arizona, Where Eagles Soar is a spiritual adventure and a romance.  It’s the story of Johnny SkyHawk, a young Cocktaw Indian who, after his three year job contract ends, goes into the mountains to rest and renew himself spiritually.

His plan to do so is thwarted, however, when he finds himself embroiled in the plight of a young Apache girl and her abductor.  And so the adventure begins as Johnny SkyHawk assists police, using his skills as a tracker.  It is not long, however, before he is aware of yet another foe!   

Throughout this exciting story, you will also hear the uplifting, wise words of Johnny SkyHawk’s grandfather, a medicine man, who taught Johnny the ways of the Great Spirit when he was young.

Truly an enjoyable read with lots of food for thought.



26 October 2012

USING THE FIVE SENSES IN YOUR WRITING


Have you ever been reading along only to have your memory sparked by a description that uses one or more of the five senses?  If it's a pleasant memory, it's a bonus that adds to your reading experience.

Describing to your reader what the scene looks like is important, but think how real it can be if you include the other senses of sound, smell, taste and touch.

Give some thought to the setting your character is in.  Perhaps he’s walking along the beach.  What might he see, hear, smell, taste and touch in that setting?

Sight/Sound
He becomes mesmerised by the sea, its choppy, uneven swell crashing onto shore before it's dragged back.


Sound/Touch
He walks against the howling wind, its force whipping the sand into his face and he winces.



Taste
The salt air leaves a bitter taste in his mouth as he walks along.

Sight
The seagulls huddle together on the sand, their attempts at flight marred by the wind.

Touch
Wondering closer to the water’s edge, he shivers as his feet become submerged in the swirling froth.

Oh, but I forgot - Smell!

If you’re on a beach in the South Pacific, it could be the fragrance of hibiscus or frangipani.


13 October 2012

WRITING - TO PAINT A PICTURE WITH WORDS - PART 6 - CONFLICT


Here on To Paint a Picture with Words, we’ve covered Character, Structure, Plot, Theme and Settings.  Today, we’re going to look at another important element for your story which is  Conflict.

Why is conflict important?
Because without it, your story will be flat and won’t hold your reader’s interest for long.

There are two types of conflict.  Inner conflict and external conflict.
Inner conflict is your character’s personal struggle.  This can be many thing such as, self doubt, guilt, grief, or a dilemma facing your character.  For example, in the Fitzjohn Mystery Series, Detective Chief Inspector Fitzjohn deals with grief when his beloved wife Edith dies.  His job becomes his lifeline, but it’s under threat by his nemisis, Superintendent Grieg, who would like nothing better than to destroy Fitzjohn’s reputation and career.

External conflict is created by something your character needs or wants to resolve, but there are obstacles that have to be overcome.  Not only does your character have to deal with his/her inner conflict but also the external struggle.  For example, in The Celtic Dagger, James Wearing finds himself a prime suspect in his brother’s murder and feels the need to clear himself of suspicion.  That conflict compels James to act and pushes the story forward.

What effect will these conflicts have on your character and story?
In dramatising your character’s inner struggles, he/she will come to life on the page enabling your reader to care.  The same can be said with your character’s external struggle.  As he/she tries and fails, and tries again to reach the goal, your reader will be filled with anticipation, sitting on the edge of his or her seat until the very last page.  At least that is what we hope!