Where do ideas come from?

Where DO your ideas come from?

That’s a ques­tion a writer often hears. And, the writer has to think about it. Yes, the idea came from some­where, but how did it devel­op and grow into a sto­ry? Quite pos­si­bly, the writer may have for­got­ten what sparked some­thing, that in turn, pulled togeth­er a bunch of mem­o­ries, ideas, hap­pen­ings, or, just pos­si­bly, a flight of fancy.

I remem­ber the spark that start­ed my young adult ghost mys­tery. It was a sign that direct­ed one to “Sandy Bot­tom Road.” We passed it by, I nev­er saw the road, but I just could­n’t for­get that name. Even­tu­al­ly, Sandy Bot­tom Road became a major part of that book. How­ev­er, I don’t remem­ber the twists I devel­oped on the way.

More recent­ly I wrote a short sto­ry to sub­mit to a future book of short sto­ries. They want­ed sev­er­al mys­ter­ies with a time trav­el theme. My sto­ry was­n’t cho­sen, but I’ve been play­ing around with the idea, devel­op­ing it into a pos­si­ble new series.

What did I throw into the pot to let it sim­mer into a full fledged project? I’m rather old so my mem­o­ry goes well into the past. The mem­o­ry I had took place a year or two after the end of World War II. I was in high school and a fel­low of about high school age came to school with a stu­dent for about two days, then dis­ap­peared. The sto­ry was that he’d arrived in Seat­tle on a Russ­ian boat as part of  the crew and jumped ship.

I nev­er heard what hap­pened to him, any­thing about him, or even his name. But I decid­ed to supply/invent his sto­ry. When my sto­ry failed to find an audi­ence, I decid­ed to add a few oth­er things and mere­ly use that part as an intro­duc­tion to a time-trav­el mys­tery series. The next step was to research his­to­ry and decide where else to send my ama­teur sleuth. I need­ed a more his­toric destination.

Hmm. Recent­ly I’d heard about a repli­ca of the Lin­coln funer­al train tour­ing the coun­try. Nope, did­n’t think about that soon enough to actu­al­ly vis­it the train. Now that would have been per­fect, but I was too late. But there are plen­ty of sites on the inter­net where I found a lot of infor­ma­tion. Next stop, look­ing up slang and music of the era. Check­ing out where the funer­al train was and when. Find­ing the may­or of one city (Philadel­phia) where the train stopped. Dis­cov­er­ing a few rumors from that time — rumors that if car­ried out, could have been dis­as­trous (I did need a crime for a mys­tery, yes?)

Some­thing else perked in my mind. A year or so ago, maybe longer, I read about a series of short books being devel­oped by a team — uni­corn West­erns. They decid­ed that with uni­corns, they would­n’t have to wor­ry about being his­tor­i­cal­ly accu­rate, or even phys­i­cal­ly pos­si­ble, I guess. It was­n’t the uni­corn idea that made a spark, it was the short books, to be offered at 99 cents each. The first three would come out one a month. Now, THAT is what sparked my inter­est. Short books, at 99 cents each. Hey, maybe I could write three of them, pub­lish and keep writ­ing. (Like I may have men­tioned, I dream big.) And there’s cer­tain­ly a lot of his­to­ry in our past that could be looked into. Hey, such books might even spark an inter­est in learn­ing his­to­ry, always an admirable notion. Yeah—then…

Then I applied a whole lot of imag­i­na­tion. So I’m cur­rent­ly work­ing on a new book. (Or, I should be doing that instead of writ­ing this blog. But that’s anoth­er story.)

I’ve had peo­ple ask me where I get my ideas. Now, I’d like to ask the read­ers — When you read a new book, of what­ev­er kind of fic­tion, do you won­der where the idea came from? Or, do you make your own con­nec­tions and think, I bet this … was the spark? (If so, just maybe, you have a book inside you wait­ing to burst forth!)

Lowcountry Boil (A Liz Talbot Mystery, #1) — Book Review

Lowcountry Boil

I read (and first reviewed) this book eight years ago. My deci­sion then was: Great mys­tery. Loved the plot, the char­ac­ters, the sit­u­a­tion, the, um, every­thing about it? Liz returns to the Car­oli­na island home­stead after her grand­moth­er dies, and she learns it was mur­der. So, why would any­one kill a sweet old lady? There are con­spir­a­cies afoot, and a ghost who con­fers with Liz, look­ing to save the island from the bad guys.

At that time the pub­lish­er, Hen­ery Press, was new. They said, if you like one of our mys­ter­ies, you’ll like them all. I dis­cov­ered that was close to the truth, for I sam­pled sev­er­al of their authors. I also read sev­er­al more of Susan M. Boy­er’s Low­coun­try mys­tery series.

This fits the “cozy” mys­tery since it takes place on an island, Liz’s broth­er is the local police chief, and Liz knows every­one she sees. Where it might veer a bit off “cozy” is Liz, her­self. She’s a pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tor, and car­ries her Sig 9 in her Kate Spade hand­bag.  Her gold­en retriev­er, Rhett, rides shot­gun in her hybrid Escape. But then, pos­si­bly that’s the dif­fer­ence with this pub­lish­er’s mys­ter­ies. Cozy with a twist that is not baked yum­mies (although some are def­i­nite­ly encoun­tered) or hand­i­crafts (or does refur­bish­ing a house count?).

Not to wor­ry, there is a mur­der, a killer, and dan­ger to Liz and fam­i­ly, as well as a some­times help­ful ghost. Who could ask for more?  (Maybe win­ning an Agatha for best first mystery?)

I Love a Mystery — Historic Mysteries

Three Favorite Historic Mysteries

My favorite books are mys­ter­ies, true, but I like to read in sev­er­al gen­res. When I find a delight­ful his­toric mys­tery, I’m dou­bly thrilled. In fact, I so love his­tor­i­cal mys­ter­ies, I have to show­case three series. 

Favorite Mass-Market Mysteries

Favorite Mystery Reads of The Past

Do you remem­ber going to the book­store when there were two main ones in the big shop­ping cen­ter and mass-mar­ket paper­back copies of all the books in a mys­tery series on the shelves? You’d buy the next one in the series and know all the oth­ers would be wait­ing for your when you came back. Even after one store closed or moved to a remote loca­tion, there were still those rows of books by your favorite author.

I got whole series, one at a time. The first would be avail­able as well as the fif­teenth and all the oth­ers in between. The Cat Who and Mrs. Pol­li­fax mys­ter­ies were my favorites. I trad­ed away most of the Cat Who books when we were sail­ing, pass­ing them on to the next read­er in exchange for a fresh mys­tery. I kept all the Mrs. Pol­li­fax books and still have them. I’ve read the entire series twice. Must be due for a third reading!

Those books and oth­ers kept me enter­tained while my chil­dren grew up, and went off into the world. I fol­lowed Mr. Qwiller­an and his life as his amaz­ing cats helped him solve mys­ter­ies. I reliv­ed the life of Mrs. Pol­li­fax as she trav­eled around the world—as a mid­dle-aged, unex­pect­ed secret agent. Both series pure fan­ta­sy, of course. Did I care? Nope, I ate them up.

How about you? Did you have favorite series that grew along with your fam­i­ly? Gave you moments of plea­sure amid chaos? And, like me, per­haps they inspired you to write sto­ries of your own. My first mys­tery owes a lot to Mrs. Pol­li­fax. And cats? Well, my ama­teur sleuth does have an imag­i­nary cat. You see, Clyde, the yel­low-striped tom, came with the ter­ri­to­ry. But that’s anoth­er story.

Book Talk — Agatha Christie

The Grand Dame of Mystery — Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie

When I think of all the vari­ety of mys­tery nov­els, I have to begin with Agatha Christie and her ama­teur sleuth, Miss Marple. I read quite a few of those, but I nev­er fig­ured out “who dun it” before the end. And that’s only one rea­son why I love those books. Anoth­er is the wide vari­ety of writ­ers she spawned. But I digress—I’m talk­ing Dame Christie here. And, although I think of her as the  author of mys­ter­ies involv­ing that nosy lady Miss Marple, her first detec­tive was Her­cule Poirot. She wrote many more books about him, but after a few years, she thought him “insuf­fer­able.” How­ev­er, she knew her read­ers loved him, so she wrote more.

Just recent­ly, I read Christie’s first pub­lished mys­tery (but the sev­enth mys­tery she wrote) The Mys­te­ri­ous Affair at Styles. Although I’d seen many Poirot TV shows, I had nev­er read any of the books star­ring him. In this book, he was a retired detec­tive, with his lat­er side­kick Hast­ings as the nar­ra­tor and some­one who had met him ear­li­er. Hast­ings, after watch­ing him at work, thought he must sure­ly have lost his great detect­ing skills. Inspec­tor Japp was there as well. Dame Christie laid the ground work with her char­ac­ters, then, in lat­er books, used them to their best advan­tage. (In oth­er words, read them in any order!)

Although Agatha Christie tired of Poirot, she nev­er tired of Miss Marple who she’d pat­terned after “the sort of old lady who would have been rather like some of my step grand­moth­er’s cronies – old ladies whom I have met in so many vil­lages where I have gone to stay as a girl.” Def­i­nite­ly, her read­ers nev­er tire of Miss Marple of  St. Mary Mead.

What is your favorite Agatha Christie mys­tery? Did you know Dame Christie has a Face­book page?  She also has an author page on Mystery.net. That’s where I found this pic­ture of her.

How Jo Changed

I have a new cov­er for my first book, Yes­ter­day’s Body. Inside the book, my ama­teur sleuth is just the same. On the cov­er, she’s changed.

The first cov­er was done by the small pub­lish­er, Wings ePress. Then, after my con­tract with them was up, I self-pub­lished with a cov­er by my daugh­ter, Don­na Hedricks. Now, since I’m about to pub­lish a sequel, I want­ed them to match. So… a new cov­er, by Karen Phillips. But let’s face it. Jo’s image has changed.

First Cover

First Cov­er

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Second Cover

Sec­ond Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Third Cover

Third Cov­er

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, I must admit, there’s not much of Jo on the third cov­er. But they all have the yel­low cat.

A New Review For YESTERDAY’S BODY

Okay, I got­ta crow!

It’s mighty rare when one’s work is rec­og­nized so beau­ti­ful­ly, and on the same day when I want to remind read­ers that my Goodreads give­away is wind­ing down.

Here’s the full review:

Yesterday's BodyTitle: Yes­ter­day’s Body
Author: Nor­ma Huss
Pub­lish­er: Sun­set Cloud Mystery
ISBN: 13: 978–1466449350
Genre: Mystery

The next time you see an old­er woman who looks like she lives on the streets, remem­ber to be nice, she might just be more than she seems. She could be ama­teur sleuth, Jo Durbin, and, if you’ve done any­thing bad, she might be look­ing for you.

Tal­ent­ed author Nor­ma Huss has craft­ed a fun read that offers a dif­fer­ent kind of sleuth with a very dif­fer­ent back­ground. Life on the streets is a hard way to live and any read­er will def­i­nite­ly won­der how such a per­son, par­tic­u­lar­ly a woman, could have the ener­gy and ambi­tion to inves­ti­gate mur­ders or oth­er crimes.

Join Jo, and her some­time side­kick Sylvie who is also her sis­ter, in track­ing down a killer after she dis­cov­ers a body in a clos­et with the help of her cat, Clyde, who isn’t all there.

I’m pleased to rec­om­mend Yes­ter­day’s Body as a sto­ry any mys­tery fan will enjoy. The char­ac­ters’ var­ied back­grounds blend into a sto­ry you won’t want to put down until you find out who the killer is and why they kill. You’ll enjoy meet­ing the real­is­tic char­ac­ters as they cross paths with Jo and your­self. You’ll find you’ve joined Jo in her inves­ti­ga­tion with Clyde and Sylvie and their three­some has become a four­some intent on solv­ing the crimes.

Enjoy the adven­ture. I sure did.

Anne K. Edwards

Now for the Goodreads give­away information—ends April 9, 2015. Giv­ing away ten copies. Sign up here.

Next Mon­day, my five-star review (of oth­er’s books) will be back. And this Thurs­day I’ll have some­thing for both read­ers and writers.

Agatha Short Story Nominees

Agatha awards, so named for Agatha Christie of mys­tery writ­ing fame, are giv­en every year at the Mal­ice Domes­tic con­fer­ence. One award is giv­en for the top short sto­ry pub­lished the pre­vi­ous year. This year’s nom­i­nees are all win­ners, even though only one will receive the tea pot that is the cov­et­ed prize. Nom­i­nat­ed for Best Short Sto­ry are:

The Odds are Against Us” by Art Tay­lor, Ellery Queen Mys­tery Mag­a­zine, Nov. 2014
“Pre­mo­ni­tion” by Art Tay­lor, Chesa­peake Crimes Homi­ci­dal Hol­i­days (Wild­side Press)
“The Shad­ow Knows” by Barb Goff­man, Chesa­peake Crimes Homi­ci­dal Hol­i­days (Wild­side Press)
“Just Desserts for John­ny” by Edith Maxwell (Kings Riv­er Life Mag­a­zine)
“The Bless­ing Witch” by Kathy Lynn Emer­son, Best New Eng­land Crime Sto­ries 2015: Rogue Wave (Lev­el Best Books)

Those who attend Mal­ice Domes­tic this year are in for a dilem­ma. Which of these excel­lent sto­ries will they vote for? What idea sparked the sto­ry? Find that answer on the Wicked Cozy Author blog, Best Short Agatha Nom­i­nees on Ideas. The Writ­ers Who Kill blog asked each writer oth­er ques­tions. How many char­ac­ters? How should they be devel­oped? What comes first, sto­ry or theme? Their post is: An Inter­view with the 2014 Agatha Best Short Sto­ry Nom­i­nee Authors. They also have links to each story.

Wish I were going to Mal­ice Domes­tic, except, then I’d have to decide which sto­ry was best. Quite an impossibility.

(Oth­er links of inter­est are the Mal­ice Domes­tic list of ear­li­er short sto­ry win­ners and all more recent win­ners.)

 

Goodreads Giveaway-YESTERDAY’S BODY

I’m sub­sti­tut­ing a bit of news for my usu­al five-star review today. I’m run­ning a Goodreads give­away with Yes­ter­day’s Body, my first pub­lished mys­tery. The event runs from March 17, through April 9, and I’m giv­ing away ten copies. Goodreads give­away link here.

For a brief descrip­tion: Jo Durbin isn’t under 40 or anorex­ic slim. Her face would­n’t launch a thou­sand ships or even a row­boat. She won­ders, how did she get the job with those beau­ti­ful peo­ple? And, will the police find her fin­ger­prints on the mur­der weapon? Did one of those beau­ti­ful peo­ple she works with kill Francine? Or, will they point to Jo?

Hard to explain that she’s only try­ing to revi­tal­ize a career gone south. Her plan—write a best-sell­er as a bag lady liv­ing on the street. Invent an imag­i­nary cat to fur­ther her image. Col­lect keys that let her into unused stor­age and vacant homes. Get accept­ed by the street peo­ple. Befriend the guy who wants to “save” them all. It seems pos­si­ble. Ignore the carp­ing sis­ter who “knows bet­ter”? That one’s tricky. Elude the killer long enough to solve the crime? You know that’s the killer question.
“I very much like your voice. You project just the tone and atti­tude I love to read.” Chris Roer­den, Author of Agatha Award-win­ning DON’T MURDER YOUR MYSTERY.
The first edi­tion e‑book was a 2011 EPIC final­ist for mystery/suspense.
The sequel, For­got­ten Body, will be pub­lished lat­er this year.