About Liesa Malik

Liesa is a freelance writer working out of Littleton, CO. Her first novel, a cozy mystery, was published July 2013. Look for "Faith on the Rocks" in a library near you.

The Mighty May Lay on Lies

Whew!  I’m into round one of edits for Sliced Vegetarian, and the terrific Alice Duncan has been my editor once more.

Alice Duncan, Author

I’m lucky to have Alice Duncan as my editor

You may know Alice by one of her pen names: Alice, Emma Craig, Rachel Wilson, Anne Robins, and even Jon Sharpe.  She writes historical mysteries, historical romance, and even, under the name Jon, westerns. Obviously, I’m working with a well-experienced writer and am lucky to have her as my editor.

I submitted my copy to Alice at the end of July and she went right to work.  Mind you, I’ve had several people read the Sliced Veggie story now, so you’d think the work would be pretty polished.  Not so, my friend.

The edits I received from Alice challenged my grammar, punctuation and storytelling skills a lot.  I love this!  I feel like I’m learning all the time, and to me, that is truly exciting.

For example, on several occasions, Alice challenged me to change “may” to “might.” Growing up, I remember my elders correcting my “Can I have an apple?” to “May I please have an apple?” quite often (but that is a story for another time). Somehow, I got that may and turned it into a statement like, “I may go to the store.” Oops. Though the sentence is structurally correct (thus no help from Microsoft Word), the meaning of the sentence was often incorrect.

Alice's latest book, Dark Spirits

Alice’s latest book, Dark Spirits

May means to have permission to or admit that the possibility exists:

I may go to the store; mothers says I may.

I may think differently about it in the morning.

On the other hand, might, other than being a word of force, means permission or possibility, but in a past tense way:

If you had your wits about you, you might have seen the knife next to the dead body on the floor.

To be honest, I’m going to have to study those two words more.  The line between them is as slim as hope on a dark and stormy night, but obviously there’s a big enough difference to be caught and questioned in the editing process.

And here’s another set of words that challenge me to bits: lay and lie. I know that to tell a fib is definitely a lie, but does something lay on a table or lie on it?  And when do you use which tense?

Thing is, I looked up lay in the dictionary and found it has fourteen definitions–and that in the transitive verb form alone.  Just wait until you get to the intransitive verb form. Wow!  All this and I haven’t begun to explore lie.

Needless to say, if you are a wordsmith and have any happy tips for remembering the differences between may and might and between lay and lie, please send them along.  Not only will I publish your clever thought, but I will probably ask you to be my BFF.

Meanwhile, I need to run along today.  Big project up in my other life as a marketing person.  Thanks for sharing time with me, and have a great week.

 

Special Edition–It’s a Blog Hop!

Hey, it’s Monday!  So why am I writing a blog today?  Because I’ve been invited to be part of a blog hop.  This is a fun, social engagement with writers and authors around the Internet and a chance for you to browse for your next read.  Is this cool or what?  Please check out the links today because I’m hoping you’ll find enjoyment with two author-friends of mine, and they have links to other writers. Good luck and happy author-hunting!

P.S. This post will take the place of my normal Wednesday edition this week.

FROM CATHERINE DILTS

Author Catherine Dilts

Be sure to check out the Stone Cold mystery series by Catherine Dilts

I met Cathy at a Left Coast Crime book convention a couple of years ago.  We became instant friends over lunch at a fast food place and have never looked back.  I hope to have Catherine Dilts as a guest blogger later this fall. She writes a rock-shop mystery set for those who enjoy a little fossil hunting and a nice chill up your spine.  Stone Cold Dead came out last winter and she’s just had her second novel, Stone Cold Case, accepted for publication.  Cathy has also had several stories published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.  I think hers is a name that will continue to grow in the publishing industry. Thanks, Cathy, for inviting me to be part of this hop.

HEADING OVER TO PAMELA NOWAK’S SITE

Pamela Nowak

Award winning author Pamela Nowak could be your next best read!

Pam Nowak is a historical romance writer who is focusing on the wild west.  I loved reading Choices from this award-winning novelist.  Pam is one of the “big names” from Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and each time we meet, she shares a great smile and a totally fun spirit.  But I’m rattling.  Here’s Pam’s official bio:

Pamela Nowak writes historical romance set in the American West. In addition to widespread critical acclaim, her books have won multiple national awards. Her most recent book, CHANGES, won the Colorado Book Award for Genre Fiction. In love with history and rich characters for most of her life, Pam has a B.A. in history, has taught prison inmates, managed the Fort Yuma National Historic Site and run a homeless shelter. She was named the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Writer of the Year in 2010, chaired three conferences, and now serves as president. Pam and her life partner, Ken, live in Denver. Their combined families include six daughters and several grand-children. Together, they parent a dog and a cat. Pam loves hearing from readers and invites them to visit her on her website (www.pamelanowak.com), Facebook (www.facebook.com/pamela.nowak.142), or Twitter (www.twitter.com/readpamelanowak).

Changes  by Pamela Nowak

Changes by Pamela Nowak

Be sure to check out her newest offering, Changes, when you can.

THE QUESTIONS WE ALL ANSWER

Part of this hop, is to answer the same four questions in order for new readers to get a chance to know you, so here goes:

What am I working on?
For me, it’s always best to be working on a bunch of things at a time, even though I try to focus on one big project. I try to keep an ideas notebook, and have lists, character ideas, settings and more organized into a nice bright binder.

Right now, my big project is the third Daisy Arthur mystery, called Pot Shots. Colorado is acting as one of the experimental states that have legalized recreational use of marijuana. But with the federal government holding firm on not legalizing the drug, marijuana stores work one hundred per cent in cash. That was just too much temptation for a writer like me to keep away from. Now, how is a nice romance writer edging into her golden years going to get involved? Lots of fun here, I hope.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Anyone who writes has their own voice and is therefore, by definition, different from others. Still, I like the way Daisy has no pretense about being an amateur detective. She’s simply someone who makes the most of what life throws her, and that, I hope, is a positive message for us all.

Why do I write what I do?
They say you should write what you know. Given that, I always thought you had to have actual police experience to be able to write a mystery. Then I started reading cozies and fell in love. When I saw a book on how to write mysteries, it helped solidify a vision I was working on already, and Daisy was created. I think a lot of cozy mystery solving comes from being intrigued by the puzzle-solving aspect of it all. And I love (though am not very good at) puzzle play—sudoku, spider solitaire, name that celebrity, logic problems and more. At last! My penchant for play is rewarded in writing. How cool is that?

How does my writing process work?
Ooh. That’s a hard one. Believe it or not, I usually start with a flash that makes me giggle. That flash can be a scene in my head or, even more likely, the title of a book. I play with that flash until I think I have a real idea. Then I start gathering thoughts and ideas for a few months. I’m not really sure what’s taking hold in my subconscious at this point. The idea is to talk with people who may be involved or passionate about a subject and listen to them. Then I have to noodle around what sort of motive might be around that subject that would cause someone to commit murder. If I’ve been sitting around for six months or more, the guilt gets to me. I stop trying to find the perfect plot and start scolding myself for being so lazy. Once that puzzle is solved the play begins.

I write the story from a few different perspectives. I do this long hand, as I believe it’s easier for my subconscious to come out to play when I write long hand.

When I have four or five perspectives complete, I copy them paragraph by paragraph onto three by five cards. I suppose it would be smarter to type them up, print them and cut them apart, but I love index cards. The cards have been a real friend for keeping me organized throughout my adulthood.

When the cards are complete, I mix them up, shuffle them about and spread them all over my dining room table. Then I number them, stack them up and essentially have the outline for my next book. From there it’s a simple matter of discipline (which sometimes I have in abundance, and sometimes I don’t). At this point I try to set a deadline for sending the work into beta readers and the publisher, all in hopes the next book will be something they want. Fingers crossed.

Hope you’ve enjoyed your visit. If you’re new to this blog, please drop me a line and let me know what you like to read about.  If you’re a returning friend, thanks for spending time with me today.  There will not be a post on Wednesday.

Make a great week, my friends!

 

Cultivating Clues – A Fun Hobby

You’ve heard the expression, “he doesn’t have a clue.”  I feel that way often–especially when it comes to writing the next mystery along.  I love reading mysteries and watching them on television, but I never really sat down to ask “what is a clue all about?”

Recently, I started a new ideas notebook and one of the sections is all about lists. List the things that bother you in life. List the places you’ve lived (and could possibly write about). List all the best restaurants you’ve eaten at.  The list of lists goes on, limited only by your interest and imagination. So I sat down the other day and jotted down “types of clues” on one of my list pages.

photo of evidence-iStock_000038589296Small

Get a clue–mysteries are built on them!

I sat for a while with no more than two or three ideas.  I’m trying to stick to the kind of things an amateur sleuth like Daisy Arthur would stumble upon and recognize.  Then it hit me.  Something this important requires research and study.  Immediately, I felt that bubble of excitement that comes from a great new adventure.  So I re-listened to a CD from the Colorado Gold Writing Conference–Become a Clue Master: How to Plant Clues, by Kris Neri. Kris does on-line writing classes as an extension of UCLA, and if you get a chance to work with her, I’d recommend it.  I really liked this class and get a lot out of it, each time I listen to the CD again.

THE CLUE MINDSET

Let’s start with a clue mindset.  A few of the authors I looked up (after listening to Kris) mentioned that clues are like magic shows–they lead, manipulate, and misdirect the reader in order to create suspense and final satisfaction when you work out or read the climactic “who done it” scene.  Guess what subject I’ll be studying next.

For me, though, clues are a great way of playing hide-n-seek. You remember, don’t you?  As a kid did you hide in a spot so well that you almost fell asleep waiting for siblings and friends to find you?  Didn’t you give clues? Didn’t you say “beep” every once in a while?

And how about the “you’re getting warmer, no, you’re getting colder” game? Isn’t that all about leading and directing people with your clues? And admit it. Wasn’t it at least tempting to think of sending someone in the wrong direction by saying “warmer” when they were really getting “colder” all along?

SOME SPECIFIC MODELS

Okay. Spoiler alert. If you like reading mysteries and don’t want clues to jump out at you, you may want to stop now.  Here are a few specific models that help make writing more fun:

  • The list clue–Detective walks into a room and starts jotting down the contents of a closet: pair of black dress shoes, a work boot, four tennis shoes, three belts, six pairs of pants (on hangers) and a sweatshirt dropped on the floor.  Much later in the story that detective might piece together that a work boot footprint outside the victim’s window might match the one from that closet way back. He retrieves the boot only to find that it’s from the wrong foot, and the right boot is missing. Dun-duhn.
  • Parallel Logic–Some expert the detective talks to, gives an in-depth explanation of how something works. You, the reader, can’t get through that page fast enough. Talk about your blah, blah, blah moment. You might even find yourself saying, “I could write better than that!” Then, a few chapters later, a situation comes up where you have the same structure in logic being used, and the detective needs to remember what boring old expert said (was it the red wire or the green that you clip in order to shut off the timer on the bomb you’re tied to?) Tension plus moment.
  • Access clues–This one is so straight forward, I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t used it before. Pick an object, a setting, or information and ask yourself “who had access to this at the time of the murder, abduction, theft, etc.?” A person can’t be guilty if they have no access to what’s important in your scene.
  • Last One; I’ve got a secret–In writing a mystery almost everyone should have something they’d rather keep to themselves.  And if that something happens to make them look guilty even when they’re not, so much the better. What’s your secret?

Do you like puzzles and clues as much as me?  What’s your favorite kind of clue? If you’re writing a mystery I hope you have a writing session devoted to clue-making. It’s so much fun.

IMPORTANT P.S. I will be doing an extra post on Monday, August 18th as part of an author’s blog hop.  Please look me up then.