Kindle Book Award FTW!

So far, November has been pretty huge. On Wednesday, November 1st, Double Blind won the 2017 Kindle Book award for Mystery/Thriller! Which means I get to officially use this:

It’s so cool! It’s got those fancy wheat sheaves and everything. I’m not exactly sure where to put it though so I stuck it here for now until I get that part figured out.

My hearty thanks to all the judges at the Kindle Book review, and everyone involved in that process. Everyone has been so nice about everything. I wonder if they ever tire of all the exclamation points in the emails they must receive. For the record, I did try to tone it down.

But that’s not all that happened last week! Oh heck no.

We also survived my daughter’s first ever horror movie marathon. Poltergeist, Halloween, The Blob, and The Thing. She loved every minute of it. It was awesome. For the record, she has been asking for a long time.

Then this happened.

And that Friday, after stocking up on cheese, crackers and beer, my BFF Candy and I left for a weekend writing retreat. We holed ourselves up in an old logging cabin on the Olympic peninsula and wrote all weekend.

Technically, it’s 3 logging cabins stuck together to make one larger cabin but it still has creepy scratching noises and occasional spiders in the sink. #SOGREAT

 

On Saturday, I finally finished the first draft of Parallax! (Book three in the Thanatos Rising series.) I didn’t even cry this time.

So to celebrate all these awesome things, Double Blind is going on free sale. Starting November 18th through the 22nd, Double Blind will be downloadable for free. After that, it will be out and about! On Kindle, Kobo, Nook and Apple (just as soon as I can figure that one out).

ONWARD!

 

Did You Choose Your Genre or Did It Choose You?

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That’s a good question.

Genre is a tricky thing. There are widely known and accepted genres like Westerns! and Romance. There are even widely known subgenres like Western Romance! And that’s all well and good for people that write in those genres.

I don’t. I write in some weird hybrid genre that I have never successfully been able to define. The closest I’ve ever come to describing it is “Humrous SciFi with a cat in it.” Even though the science is more pseudo-science and there’s little fantasy save for the fact that one of the main characters is a 32 pound (mostly) Main Coon cat named Toesy. But he delights me to no end so I’m sticking with him for meow now.

I highly doubt my consciousness had any executive control over genre when I sat down to write my first book. I remember choosing to set it in Seattle (because that’s where I know) and that’s about where all my thoughtful input ended. Everything else stemmed from conversations I had in my head. Because that’s where the writing process happens for me.

I talk to everything. That may or may not surprise you, depending on how much time you and I have spent in respective company but it’s true all the same. Bugs, trees, myself, the dog, I have a thousand conversations a day. So when I’m writing a scene and a cat wanders into it and starts talking about murdering stuff, I don’t think that’s abnormal. Why would it be? I talk to my real cat all the time. Granted, our conversations are mostly about canned food or ear scratches but, we do talk.

German Sherpard, GSD, #GSDlove, Frisbee

This guy is much less subtle. Although he enjoys talking about cat food as well.

Talking with my characters lets me get into their heads. I see their desires and prejudices. I discover their motivations. I could put all that together myself by writing everything down and meticulously tracking all their character traits but honestly, a simple conversation will reveal more and requires much less work. I take notes, for sure, but it’s more like dictation than character building.

So no, I can say with confidence that I am definitely not in the driver’s seat here. I write what entertains me and the genre in which I write is based in what I find entertaining. Who knows what I’ll find entertaining? If a giant purple gorilla were to walk into my next scene and start singing the National Anthem in sign language, I’ll listen to his story.

If it makes me laugh, I may even use it.

 

Wonder how the other people do it? Check out these posts by Michael G. Munz and Camela Thompson for their answers to the genre problem.

 

Tooth Fairy Chronicles, Part 5: End Game.

While I’m away, on vacation, I thought it might be nice to revisit some old friends. Or rather, old enemies. This post is Part Five of the Tooth Fairy Chronicles, originally published on Snickerpants.com.

***

If you’ve been following this Epic Saga of goblin vs. six-year-old then you already know that Catfish (the six year old) has been busy these last few weeks. After a week’s worth of riddling, he was ready to see how all this resolved itself.

Frankly, so was I.

In order to put this adventure to bed, I had to make the end both complete and satisfying or we were going to have problems. Catfish was still on a quest to capture Finkmeister so that he could prove his claim at school. That was becoming an increasingly frustrating endeavor for him because he didn’t know how to win.

I thought about it this for several days and identified five elements that must be addressed in order for Catfish to be victorious (and stop trying to catch Finkmeister).

1. It needed to be believable. Finkmeister would have real treasure, not a bunch of Legos and Hot Wheels. Though such a stash would be awesome, it would also a dead give-away that this was all a hoax. Finkmeister likes to steal cold, hard cash from kids, not their toys.

2. It needed to include proof that this was happening. Something Catfish could take to school and show off to everyone. He needed validation from his peers because Mom and Dad were sadly inadequate.

3. It had to be difficult.  Look, just because I’m his mom doesn’t mean that I’m going to let him slack-off in the end game. This is where the difficult bits come in. If it is too easy to figure out, then why go through all the bother? Stumbled-upon treasure isn’t as rewarding as hard-won treasure.

4. It had to be exciting and sinister and vaguely threatening. This goes without saying, right? The thrill of the hunt, chase, defense …whatever. It needed to feel real.

5. It needed to have a definitive answer. Without an answer we risk expectations of Finkmeister attacks later, after he loses the other seventeen thousand teeth he’s got in his mouth.

How the heck could I do all that?!? I had no idea so I did the next best thing: I winged it.

The day following the last, incoherent note from Finkmeister, he found this in the mailbox:

Just the right amount of sinister-yet-vague threat

Just the right amount of sinister-yet-vague threat

Now that it was certain he won the duel, he could breath easy. And he did. He visibly relaxed when he knew what to expect. A treasure hunt, with a map and everything!

I was terrified of drawing anything like a map, had no idea where to put it and couldn’t figure out how to make difficult riddles, so I began with building the treasure.

A short trip to the Goodwill and I had loads of loot.

Looks pretty treasure-hoardy to me.

Looks pretty treasure-hoardy to me.

But what sort of treasure hoard would this be without money? I’d be damned if I was gonna give that kid a ton of real, actual, this-stuff-will-buy-me-Legos Money even though I could have scrounged at least ten dollars in change from various nooks and crannies in this house.

It’s just that, including US dollars seemed so… demeaning to the whole purpose of this adventure. As soon as he saw real money, the dollar signs in his eyes would brainwash him into thinking we were going to the damned toy store.

No. We were definitely not doing that. Toys weren’t the reward here. Getting to figure out the mystery was the reward. Money would just be confusing. Besides, Finkmeister stole money from kids everywhere, not just the United States.

Clearly, this treasure hoard called for foreign currency!

I put a call out an FB to my peeps – for any and all foreign coins they were willing to donate. It was surprising to see such an outpouring of good will. Everybody had a few coins from foreign parts that they wanted to include in the Finkmeister hoard.

I had already started making plans to collect said monies when my dear, sweet husband actually took notice of my post.

Please note the date and time of Brian's first response.

Please note the date and time of Brian’s first response.

Then I went to the store and bought a handful of chocolate coins and tossed them in. Voila! the hoard was complete!

This looks promising...

This looks promising…

Now for the hiding and the map making.

I scouted out places around the yard where the treasure hoard could hide, without being too obvious. Once a suitable hidey-hole was established, I had to write the riddles, make the map and bury the treasure. All of which took the better part of a day. Plus, there was a lot of sand involved. I don’t like sand. There was a lot of swearing during that part.

In order to fulfill requirement 2 (proof that this was happening) I planned the whole shebang to take place on the upcoming day off from school. Catfish had already asked me three times if I would please please please make those doughnut things with all the powdered sugar for him again. I, being the sucker that I am, agreed.

Using the old “I’m going to make some fresh beignets, would you guys like to come over for a play date?” I was able to lure Catfish’s friend and his mom over that morning.

Surprisingly, it wasn't that difficult.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t that difficult.

Map ready, treasure buried, beignets fried and liberally sprinkled, all we had to do was wait for the right time. After an hour we heard a few references to Finkmeister in their conversation. Then a few expectant sighs about a map. I asked if he’d checked for it lately…

OH MY GOODNESS! WHAT IS THAT THERE ON THE FRONT MAT?!?

OH MY GOODNESS! WHAT IS THAT THERE ON THE FRONT MAT?!?

The hunt is up! The hunt is up! And it is well nigh day!

To say this part was awesome would be an understatement. There were now TWO little boys standing in the front entryway, stunned speechless for the excitement of it. I think the best part was watching Catfish’s friend’s eyes go from “Yeah, I’ve heard you talk about Finkmeister” to “HOLY CRAP YOU WEREN’T KIDDING!!”

Here is the ‘map’:

Apparently, Finkmeister is just as bad at drawing maps as I am. Go figure.

Apparently, Finkmeister is just as bad at drawing maps as I am. Go figure.

It was priceless. Us moms had to move quickly because six year old boys in search of illicit treasure hoards are not to be trifled with. If we wanted to get any pictures at all, we had to haul ass. They were already on to the first clue:

"That's easy! Let's go talk to Heather!" "Okay! Who's Heather?"

“That’s easy! Let’s go talk to Heather!” “Okay! Who’s Heather?”

I don’t know who suggested Heather might be a plant. But soon enough, they were pawing through the shrubbery.

"I don't want to put my hand in there. You put YOUR hand in there." "I don't want to put MY hand in there...MOOOOM!"

“I don’t want to put my hand in there. You put YOUR hand in there.” “I don’t want to put MY hand in there…MOOOOM!”

And thus, a small plastic shovel was found. The second clue was much like the first. See if you can guess where we looked next:

Did you say SAGE? Because, you are so smart!

Did you say SAGE? Because, you are so smart!

And they found a plastic gardening fork.

The third clue was a hint to the location of the treasure:

Wow, he seems a little upset there.

Wow, he seems a little upset there.

And before we get too far, the fourth clue wasn’t a clue at all. It was Finkmeister delivering a slightly unsettling threat:

Told you! He's kinda being a jerk.

Told you! He’s kinda being a jerk.

But that part doesn’t matter, what matters is TREASURE!

And, of course…

"HOLY COW DUDE, THESE COINS ARE CHOCOLATE!!!!"

“HOLY COW DUDE, THESE COINS ARE CHOCOLATE!!!!”

 

I believe the sentiment they are trying to convey here is "HELLZ YEAH!"

I believe the sentiment they are trying to convey here is “HELLZ YEAH!”

For those of you who want to paw through Finkmeister’s treasure too:


Don’t miss out on the rest of the story!

Part 1: Finkmeister is a Jackass
Part 2: The Overnight Finkmeister Trap
Part 3: A Gentleman’s Duel
Part 4: Riddles Three, a Photo Essay.
Part 5: End Game.