In the middle of this pandemic, riots and protests, my husband and I decided to buy our retirement home, which will hopefully serve as a getaway place, until he retires in four years… so in the meantime I’m thinking writer retreat. But, gee, let’s add the stress of buying a house to the already chaotic situation we’re all living with.
And did I mention I’m finishing a book right now…well, I’m always either starting or finishing a book, so that’s not surprising. But finding focus during the unprecedented mayhem in my life, in all of our lives, isn’t such an easy thing.
And writing a romcom with all of the darkness going on sometimes feels like a disconnect.
And yet, when I need to escape, I’m turning to Hallmark Channel, or old television shows like The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie, so maybe writing a romcom right now is not so out of place.
But finding focus, being able to escape to the peaceful little beach world in my head isn’t always easy. I wouldn’t call it writer’s block. If I can get there the words flow. It’s more an inability to detach from the real world…and stay detached.
Usually when I write, I plan long blocks of time to work. I schedule breaks at the end of each hour to stand up and move around, then I get back to work. But, my process has changed. Instead of writing for 3 or 4 hours with ten minute breaks each hour, I’m writing in little bursts. I’ll sit down write a scene maybe 15 to 20 minutes, instead of writing a full chapter. Then I get up to go do some chores…pack some boxes for our new home…sew some masks, any of the above sit down and write for another 15 to 20 minutes. It’s a challenging process, but then, everything is challenging right now.
I’m trying to focus on the good things. People coming together to help each other and their communities, to support each other, sharing resources, finding new ways to teach, work and celebrate. Human beings can be amazing. Those things make it easier to sleep at night, and to write about people
Well, I’ve been writing for nearly 20 minutes, so it’s time to do some chores…or pack some boxes…or maybe it’s time to look at pictures of my new house, lol. How are you finding focus in this challenging time? How are you distracting yourself from the stress? Share your tips and ideas. I could sure use the help!
This past Thursday, June 4, I hit a major milestone as a podcaster — 200 episodes! To celebrate, I wanted to have a really amazing guest. So I thought about everyone I knew in the publishing industry and made a mental list of people I would be thrilled to talk to on my show.
And because I’ve gotten more courageous after 200 episodes, I decided to ask my first choice first. And she said yes!!! Woohooo!!!
Joanna Penn is a novelist, a podcaster (The Creative Penn, coming up on 500 episodes!), and has quite a few nonfiction books and courses for writers. She’s a wonderful role model and mentor for indie authors. And today she talks about the journey to build a six-figure career as a writer. I hope you enjoy the show.
For the last couple of months, my posts here included some of my take on what was happening with the Corona virus and how it was affecting my life–and how the changes had become my new normal.
Then there’s the economy, and all the people suffering because we mostly need to stay at home. Businesses are closing. People are losing their jobs. Where’s the money??
My new normal now also includes worrying about the protests occurring in many places in our country–including areas of Los Angeles, which is where I live. Oh, I sympathize with the protesters who are out there marching peacefully against racial inequality. The death that precipitated it all this time shouldn’t have happened. But now looters are using the protests as an excuse to get out there, break into stores, and steal a lot. And injure others. A lot of businesses in areas near me that haven’t experienced the riots are all boarded up, just in case.
And now here, and in other blog posts I’ve done, I’m wondering what’s next.
I’m writing, of course. Right now I’m working on my third book in the long-running Colton series for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, featuring characters in one of the many branches of the Colton family spread all over the country. I keep thinking about the second one I wrote, when much of the action was precipitated by an earthquake–Colton First Responder.
Are we due for an earthquake as yet another major issue in our existence, like a pandemic and riots? After all, as I said, I live in Los Angeles. And there was an earthquake worth noting in Ridgecrest, a location not far from here, this week.
Other areas may be deluged with hurricanes or other storms.
Or will our next problem–no, read “disaster”–involve something else?
Well, I am a writer and my imagination never stops. And I keep telling it to calm down and imagine instead what things will be like when there’s at least a small semblance of a return to normal.
Although what normal will be next…?
Anyway, I hope that all of you who are reading this are well and safe and not subject to any of those or any other major issues.
Who knows? Next time I post here, things may be quite different… again!
Linda O. Johnston, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer, has published 53 books so far, including mysteries and romantic novels. More than twenty-five of them are romances for Harlequin, including Harlequin Romantic Suspense and Harlequin Nocturne. Her latest release is Colton First Responder, for Harlequin Romantic Suspense. She has also written several mystery series including the Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries and Superstition Mysteries for Midnight Ink, and the Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter Mysteries and Pet Rescue Mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. Nearly all Linda’s current stories involve dogs!
After World War II, the American public wanted new cars, not rehashed models from before production halted in 1942 for national emergency production. As a result, U.S. carmakers offered products in all price ranges.
Returning GIs started families, the suburbs grew at an unprecedented rate and peaked in the 1960s. Many growing families had moved away from the cities and needed economical ways to commute to their jobs in the cities.
Enter, the American-designed and British-built, Nash Metropolitan measured less than thirteen feet in length, and was often called America’s first sub-compact car. Production began in October 1953. Over the next eight years, over 95,000 Metropolitans were produced and sold by Nash/Hudson, then Rambler, and finally AMC.
They designed it as a second car in a two-car family, for Mom taking the kids to school or shopping, or for Dad to drive to the railroad station to ride to work. A commuter/shopping car with a resemblance to the big Nash, but the scale was tiny. The Metropolitan’s wheelbase was shorter than the Volkswagen Beetle.
The miniscule two-seater came as convertible or hardtop models. No extra-cost, standard features (optional on most cars of that time) included electric windshield wipers, cigarette lighter, interior map light, and a continental-type rear-mounted spare tire with cover. While an AM radio, heater, and whitewall tires were listed as optional extras, it appeared all Metros left the factory with these items. Trunk space was accessed by folding the seatback forward.
In December 1956, the Austin Motor Company of Britain acquired the rights to sell the Metropolitan to non-North American markets. Modifications allowed manufacture of both left and right-hand drive models.
Several more changes came in 1959, including a glove box door, seat adjusters, vent windows, opening trunk lid and tubeless tires. The last Metropolitans came with a British-made 55 hp Austin engine.
Production of the funny little car stopped in 1960, but ‘leftovers’ were sold for under $1700 for another two years.
In popular culture, “The Little Nash Rambler” song was released in 1958 and often thought to refer to this teeny car. It was actually based on the larger, four-seat, Nash Rambler.
With the 1960s, came the birth of “muscle cars”, cheap gasoline and the need for speed. National pastimes included drag racing, and a return to NASCAR racing.
While some manufacturers offered one or two “economy” models like the Chevrolet Corvair and Ford Falcon, the little Metropolitan had no future. It faded into memory and became a curiosity for collectors.
Hollywood did not forget. The little car can be seen in: Clueless (1995), The Wedding Singer (1998), Blue Hawaii (1961) and others. It made many TV appearances, including Starsky & Hutch, The Ghost Whisperer, Square Pegs, and even The Simpsons!
Greta Boris is the author of The 7 Deadly Sins, standalone novels of psychological suspense. Ordinary women. Unexpected Evil. Taut psychological thrillers that expose the dark side of sunny Southern California. Her stories have been called atmospheric, twisty, and un-put-downable.
She’s also the Co-Creator of The Author Wheel, a site for writers on writing, and a popular conference speaker and workshop instructor. She describes her work (and her life) as an O.C. housewife meets Dante’s Inferno. You can visit her at http://gretaboris.com.
We are talking today with Greta Boris about her intriguing series about the 7 Deadly Sins. Let’s get started.
Jann: Where did you get the idea to write about the seven deadly sins?
Greta: I took a course on writing a series and learned that there are many different kinds. I knew I wasn’t ready to write the typical mystery series with the same sleuth appearing in every book, and I really enjoyed suspense stories that revolved around an “every-woman” kind of character. I needed a theme that could tie those kinds of stories together while allowing them to also stand alone. Since all crime and most stupid mistakes–which my characters always make–stem from one or more of the seven deadlies, it seemed a good fit.
Jann: You have a theme for each book—what comes next? Do you work on your characters or the plot first?
Greta: Since the character for the next in series is always introduced in the book before and often characters show up in many stories, I guess you could say I work on the characters first. However, I also think some characters lend themselves to certain kinds of stories so the two—plot and character—evolve together.
Jann: You have written and published four of the deadly sins. The Scent of Wrath, A Margin of Lust, The Sanctity of Sloth, The Color of Envy. Did you know in advance the order of the sins you wanted to write for this series? Why did you start with wrath?
Greta: Actually, the first book is A Margin of Lust. I wish I had started with Wrath because my book got confused with erotica and romance novels in the beginning! The order comes from the order in which the sins are punished in Dante’s Inferno. The more severe the sin, the farther down in the circles you find it. Lust is at the top, not considered too bad by Dante. Pride is punished in the lower circles of hell. It’s not necessary to read them in order, however. Readers can start with the plot that sounds most interesting, or start at the beginning.
Jann: Your main characters so far are all women. Will this be the case in the remaining books? Why?
Greta: Yes. Selfishly, I wanted to explore new careers vicariously through my characters. Gwen is a Realtor for high-end beach real estate. Olivia works in a Pilates studio and spends a bunch of time experimenting with essential oils. Abby is a writer and Rosie an interior designer. I’m interested in all these things and or have dabbled in them. It’s easier for me to mind-meld with a woman since I am one.
Jann: A Pinch of Gluttony, book five in the series, debuts today. Congratulations!! Honey Wells is your main character. Who is Honey and what challenges does she have to overcome?
Greta: Honey is a chef, shop owner, and cooking instructor. When the story opens, she’s hiking with her very fit fireman husband, because she’s had a bad doctor’s report. She’s overweight, high-cholesterol, insulin resistant, etc. Her problems are exacerbated by the fact that her brother-in-law has disappeared with most of their savings, so she’s working around the clock to make up the difference. When she and hubby find a dead body everything gets much worse. Dead bodies tend to have that effect on things.
Jann: Do you have a sin you like the best? The least? Why?
Greta: I’ve really enjoyed writing them all. I think The Color of Envy was the most difficult because it’s my besetting sin. I’m more apt to struggle with envy than the others. Maybe because of that, I also think it might be the best of the bunch so far. However, my publisher loves The Sanctity of Sloth most, and my editor thinks A Pinch of Gluttony is best.
Jann: What do you hope readers will take away from this series?
Greta: I hope they will be both entertained and challenged. We all have blind spots and sometimes it’s easiest to recognize our own through watching someone else screw up. A book reviewer who featured The Sanctity of Sloth on her website said the book made her cry in some sections because she related to Abby. She loved watching Abby’s struggle to act even when the consequences of not acting were dire then, ultimately, overcoming her reticence. Others were very irritated by Abby, but understood Gwen’s lust for success.
Jann: Are you working on book six? Can you tell us which sin you have selected and when it will be available?
Greta: Yes! I’m working on The Key of Greed, and saving pride for last. It’s a fun take on a locked room mystery. Willow, my main character, is younger than most of the others. She’s Honey’s (A Pinch of Gluttony) daughter. She’s a violinist, pregnant, and engaged to be married. I believe it’s scheduled for release February, 2021.
Jann: What are you working on now? Can you tell us about your next project?
Greta: As I said, I’m writing Greed now, but I’m also planning a new series—The Mortician Murder Mystery series. It’s about a young, Rock-a-billy hairstylist to the aged who gets a request to do the hair and makeup for one of her client’s funerals. When she gets to the mortuary, she discovers the woman’s death, just like her hair color, wasn’t as natural as everybody thought. It’s so much fun to write something with a bit of humor for a change. The Seven Deadly Sins have moments here and there, but they’re not funny books. The other series is much more light-hearted despite the name!
Jann: What’s the funniest (or sweetest or best or nicest) thing a fan ever said to you?
Greta: I just received a review for Gluttony that said my writing was a cross between Kathy Reichs’ and Karin Slaughter’s. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Jann: Do you have a website, blog, twitter where fans might read more about you and your books?
Greta: I have a website, http://gretaboris.com/,where readers can read my occasional ponderings, find out more about my books, and pick up a free novella, The Escape Room. I wrote a novella prequel to the Sins series called The Origin of Sin, which is available on Kindle Unlimited at the moment. The Escape Room takes those same characters and sends them into an escape room game that goes horribly wrong. It’s lots of fun. I’m also on Facebook and occasionally Twitter. https://www.facebook.com/greta.boris/
Thank you Greta for joining us here on A Slice of Orange. You have a very fascinating series with wonderful characters. Good luck with A Pinch of Gluttony!
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