I’m Zooming these days. Oh, not a lot. But when I do, I always think about how convenient it is to participate in various meetings without leaving home.
Last weekend, I joined in a Sisters in Crime, Los Angeles chapter meeting, where author and psychologist Dennis Palumbo was speaking about how to handle writing and your mind these days. Very interesting, especially since I’m always wondering these days where my mind is. Of course, I also wondered that a lot before the pandemic and all the other things going on now began.
I also joined a recent LARA meeting–Los Angeles Romance Authors. And this week I hope to visit a presentation being given by a local independent bookstore. Plus, there are other upcoming chapter meetings of other organizations that I’ll leap into as I learn more about the dates and times.
The thing is, I’m highly untechie. I have to go back and figure out the technological stuff nearly each time. For example, this week I had to play around to turn audio back on, although the video worked fine. Could I start a Zoom meeting on my own? I highly doubt it.
I do like the idea, though, that I don’t have to drive time-consuming distances to get to those meetings.
I don’t like the idea that I can’t see buddies belonging to those organizations in person. But at least this way I get a glimpse of them without putting myself in danger of catching anything I don’t want to.
I’m just glad Zoom is around, to give us possibilities. So–thank you, Zoom!
And hi out there to those of you I know and might otherwise see at some meetings. Hope you’re all doing great… and Zooming along.
CLAIRE NADEN enjoyed a career as a paralegal before turning her attention to writing full-time. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and master’s degrees in history and library and information science. Her first novel, Cache Under the Stacks: A Cate Wagner Mystery, was published in June 2018. She lives with her husband, David, and their two dogs in Pasadena, California. Visit her online at clairenaden.wordpress.com.
Claire: Cate has inherited a bookstore from her late great aunt. She has always loved the bookstore, so it is only fitting that her auntie has left it to her. One night she is awakened by a phone call and the caller threatens the bookstore and her. He virtually stalks her, and it takes some sleuthing for Cate to discover what he is after. There is a historical twist in the middle of the book that lends itself to the conclusion.
Claire: I have been working on another mystery for Cate to solve in which she will make some life altering decisions.
Claire: Actually, I have my galleys back from the publisher, so I am working my way through it for a last check. My story is about a middle age woman who has been recently widowed and decides she wants to start her life over after having had several failed relationships. She makes the decision to sell her condominium and move to Kauai where she will purchase a bed and breakfast. I don’t want to divulge any more – spoilers you know!
Claire: I have a lot of sources that I use for research and find myself falling down the rabbit hole every once in a while. Since my story is about a journalist, I have used The Women Who Wrote the War as my starting point.
Claire: I tend to write stories where my protagonist is a woman. I like to write about women who have conflicts, face obstacles to what they want and manage to overcome and come out on top. I don’t feel comfortable in a “man’s voice.” Maybe that will change.
Claire: No, but I wish I did. Maybe I would accomplish more.
Claire: I try to get words in every day but not always successful. You know life happens. But if I don’t get words down then I do something writing related like research which I love, character outlines, editing etc. I can always find something to do related to my writing.
Claire: Nothing except “Write Everyday.”
Claire: Not to give up in other words keep swimming!
Claire: It is hard but when I look in my office and see everything I have built up over time and remind myself I am committed.
Claire: I would love to try a Victorian mystery/romance set in my town of Pasadena, CA.
It’s true, Jann has gone fishing. We hope she catches one (or two) and has a lovely relaxing day. In the mean time click the tab below and read some of Jann’s recent interviews. You can also leave her a message.
Jann says she’s off today helping Santa. But don’t worry she’ll be back on December 4th with a special interview featuring the members of the Writing Something Romantic critique group.
Mark your calendars because the group has something fun to share.
Jann Ryan grew up with the smell of orange blossoms in Orange County in sunny Southern California, where she has lived her entire life and dreamed up stories since she was a girl. Never an avid reader, she was in her thirties when she picked up her first romance quite by accident. She fell in love with happily ever after and has been reading romances ever since.
Wanting to put pen to paper, Jann joined of Romance Writers of America®. Currently, she is working on a romantic suspense series set in Stellar Bay, a fictitious town along the California central coast to fulfill her publishing dream.
Triple threat Golden Heart finalist Kathleen Beaver (w/a Kate Carlisle) has talent. How else do you explain 3 Golden Heart nominations in 3 different categories?
Color me impressed.
What’s even more impressive is how incredibly warm, kind and intelligent she is. She also has a great sense of humor…which is probably what helped her manuscript SNOOPING IN STILETTOS win the Golden Heart for Best Novel With Strong Romantic Elements.
Here she talks about her Golden Heart winning manuscript, SNOOPING IN STILETTOS, the real-life mystery that inspired it, what has changed since her win, and who she forgot to thank in her acceptance speech.
Q â€“ What can you tell us about your winning Golden Heart manuscript, SNOOPING IN STILETTOS?
A â€“ SNOOPING IN STILETTOS is a chick lit mystery and hereâ€™s the pitch: Suicide by BMW? Or murder? When L.A. attorney Berry McKenna finds her best friend, Deanna Coburn, dead in the driverâ€™s seat, she knows it was murder. After all, Deanna had just gone on a fabulous shopping spree, and what woman in the known universe would kill herself after buying a gorgeous pair of boots? Now Berryâ€™s got to convince delectable detective Ethan Oâ€™Reilly to start looking for a killer, but Ethanâ€™s a hard sell, so Berry must search for truth and justice on her ownâ€”even if it kills her.
Q – What do you love about the story? Or what do you think makes this manuscript stand out as an exceptional story?
A â€“ My heroine, Berry, has a great attitude and stands up for what she believes in. She loves her friends, she loves her mom, she actually believes in the system and sheâ€™s determined to find justice for her girlfriend. And of course, thereâ€™s a really cute hero that I truly love.
Q â€“ Did it surprise you that SNOOPING IN STILETTOS won? Why or why not?
A â€“ Surprise me? How about SHOCKED the HELL out of me! Honestly, I knew it wouldnâ€™t win. First, because it was up against so many other great books in the category, and second, because itâ€™s a fairly straightforward first-person mystery and I just figured a book like that didnâ€™t stand a chance. Iâ€™m incredibly happy I was wrong!
Q â€“ What do you think it is about SNOOPING IN STILETTOS that readers love?
A â€“ SNOOPING is told from a first-person point of view, so it was important that readers find Berryâ€™s attitude appealing. Iâ€™d like to think she comes across as funny and maybe a little snarky and self-deprecating. Sheâ€™s also a good friend and willing to fight for what she believes in. It was also important that readers could relate to the victim, Deanna, so I had to sneak in a few flashbacks to introduce her and make her seem real and likeable. And did I mention the cute hero? Love him!
Q â€“ Was there any one thing you remember a critique partner, family member or friend did or said that helped you make SNOOPING IN STILETTOS into a Golden Heart winner? If so, what?
A â€“ The best advice I got was from Maureen Child who told me to trust my voice and donâ€™t get bogged down wondering what an editor will like or hate. Just be true to myself and write the damn book.
Q â€“ If you could dedicate SNOOPING IN STILETTOS to anyone who would it be? Why?
A â€“ Iâ€™d dedicate this book to my wonderful husband Don who has more faith in me and my writing than I sometimes have in myself.
Q â€“ Did you do any research for SNOOPING IN STILETTOS? If so, what kind of fascinating and/or surprising facts did you learn while researching the book?
A â€“ Itâ€™s not exactly research but I have a story about how I got the idea to write this book. I used to work in a Family Law firm and our clientâ€™s soon-to-be-ex-wife had made at least 10 half-hearted attempts to commit suicide throughout the divorce proceedings. Of course, one day she finally succeeded, but it wasnâ€™t clear whether she actually meant to do it, because when she turned on the gas in the Bentley, somehow a spark ignited in the engine and the car caught on fire and she was burned to death. There were signs that she struggled to escape but the carbon monoxide apparently had slowed her down and she didnâ€™t make it. It was very creepy. My boss went with our client to the wifeâ€™s house and her attorney was there, running the show, bossing the police around and generally being a pain in the butt. Turns out, the wife had re-written her Last Will and Testament and made her attorney one of the main beneficiaries. So…suicide? Or murder?? I prefer to think it was murder, of course!
Q – Your acceptance speech was short, sweet and heartwarming. How were you feeling up there? Is there anything you forgot to say or anything you’d like to add?
A â€“ Well, thank you for the compliment on my speech, but I must admit I was in complete shock and had absolutely nothing prepared. I remember thinking, â€œTalk slowly. Donâ€™t forget anyone. Donâ€™t cry.â€ So naturally, I burst into tears! (laughing) Then I woke up at three oâ€™clock the next morning and starting re-writing the speech in my head…over and over and over…sigh. And yes, I really wish Iâ€™d remembered to thank my fellow Golden Heart finalists for their support and friendship. I know theyâ€™re all going to sell because they are all so talented. Itâ€™s a great group and weâ€™re all on an e-mail loop together, so I hope weâ€™ll be able to continue to keep in touch and get together at future conferences.
Q – Has anything changed for you since your win?
A â€“ No, and Iâ€™m so annoyed! Iâ€™m waiting by the phone for all those agents and editors to call, dammit! (laughing) No, nothingâ€™s really changed so far, but I now have something wonderful to tell those agents and editors who have my manuscripts in their To-Be-Read piles, so thatâ€™s something. And I have a lovely new piece of jewelry. Itâ€™s a Golden Heart. I love it!
Q – Who was the first person you called? What did you say?
A â€“ I literally ran out in the middle of the awards ceremony and called my husband. I just said, â€œI won.â€ And he was so excited, it was great!
Q – Does the win seem real yet? If so, when did it feel real? When and what hit you that made it finally feel real?
A â€“ After I won, I really had to pinch myself. A few times during the rest of the ceremony, Iâ€™d suddenly get tears in my eyes when I remembered that Iâ€™d won. The thing is, I know that winning the Golden Heart is no guarantee that Iâ€™ll sell my books, but at that moment when they called my name, it felt so good to be recognized and validated for all the years Iâ€™ve been writing and working toward publication. It was a sweet moment for me.
Dana Diamond is the OCC/RWA Secretary, a columnist for OCC’s award winning newsletter, Orange Blossom, a contributor to The Writers Vibe and hard at work on her next book. For more on Dana and her interview with Kathleen Beaver, be sure to visit Dana’s blog at: www.danadiamond.blogspot.com
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