When Endings Aren’t Endings

We all have our favorite book or movie endings. Those perfect denouements that surprise you or confirm what you suspected all along or make you weep with emotions you can finally release.

But for me, endings are rarely endings. (Although I’ve yet to read a book where everybody dies and the entire universe explodes. That might be the exception that proves my rule.)

People ask me all the time, “Where do you get your ideas?” My answer is always, “Where DON’T I get ideas?”

Magazine stories about something I never knew to be interested in, a snippet of conversation I hear while shopping, a particularly interesting face I see at a restaurant, memories of my own, airport drama I eavesdrop on, stories my friends tell of growing up, a newspaper blurb that leaves me with more questions than answers, a piece of art hanging in a museum, an old photo I stumble on in an antique store, a dream so real I remember all the details, a disjointed turn of phrase from a novel, a what if so compelling it keeps jabbing at me until I pay it some attention.

Ideas are why endings are rarely endings for me. Even if a story is tied up with a neat little bow, I always tack on another chapter in my head. And another. And another. It’s the difference, I think, between a writer and a reader. Or maybe between readers and nonreaders.

In my head, tomorrow is indeed another day for Rhett and Scarlett. In fact, they’ve probably had a month of tomorrows in my brain, all while wearing spectacular clothes.

I know what Christopher Robin and Pooh will play in the Hundred Acre Wood tomorrow, next week, and next year. And I know that some dopey do-gooder will insist that Eeyore get some anti-depressants and that Tigger needs some Ritalin.

Just because Scout Finch never saw Boo Radley again doesn’t mean I haven’t.

Now as I reread what I’ve written here, I sound a bit wacky. So, please, please tell me that you tack on extra endings to books and movies like I do. Or at least pretend you do so I don’t look so crazy.

 

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So Long – for now

 

Northern Lights
Photo provided by Pixabay

It’s hard to believe that this year is winding down. 2017 has been…different. A year of trials and year of, well, it’s hard to explain.

Professionally, I went into this year with high hopes and a sale to Woman’s World Magazine. This turned out to be the first year in four that I haven’t had a new book out and currently have no books under contract. I’m giving serious consideration to going indie or pursuing an agent. Can’t decide. Then again, maybe both! Hum…. Should I make this a poll question? Now there’s a thought. You are welcome to leave a suggestion in the comments.

The no book thing was a conscious choice. I decided I needed to devote myself to learning the marketing end of the writing business. Instead of writing, I took classes, webinars, read umpteen books, and talked to zillions of other writers who have a better handle on marketing than I do. I am growing by baby steps and I hope the process will bear fruit. We’ll see. This is the part where I ask for reviews. If you have read one of my books, I’d love it if you would leave an honest review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. There are studies that reviews do influence not only new readers but author rankings. Not a bad thing. So, I’m asking if you would take a minute and leave an honest review.

Politics – this year has been so weird does not begin to describe it so I’m not gonna go there – besides, anyone with a Facebook page has already been there and this year, really, politics is a mystery to me.

Personally – it was the year of Hurricane Irma Have you ever evacuated six hundred miles by car with five cats and eleven small birds? It’s an adventure. We went to Destin. The people we met there, and in Ocala on our way back were fantastic. They made the trip worthwhile. We’re planning to go back—without the pressure 😊.

Our house and the surrounding area still look much the same today as they did on September 11th. I’m not complaining though. Our hurricane experience was mild compared to those who suffered under Harvey’s flood waters and Maria’s devastation. At the end of the day, we still had four walls, a dry floor, and a roof, a bit drippy, but a roof none the less. It will all get fixed and there was no loss of life.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAResolutions for 2018 – CELEBRATE like there’s no tomorrow – one thing 2017 taught me, there might not be a tomorrow, so enjoy today. Then I think I’m going to take a page from a Wiccan friend and smug the house with sage. Give it a rebirth. I’m looking forward to making marketing a part of my writing life. Really excited about it, and I’ve got a great new idea for a new book in the Catherine Swope series, a standalone featuring the Florida Keys, and maybe a visit with Hayden Kent.

At my house, we celebrate Christmas. I’m wishing our readers the happiest of theirChristmas 2006-03 holiday traditions, Hanukkah, Solstice, Christmas, Kwanza, Boxing Day, St. Stephens Day, or one I might have missed!

Please share your year with us in the comments.

Let’s catch up in 2018.

You can find me at:    www.kaitcarson.com

Facebook.com/kaitcarsonauthor

@kaitcarson

www.pinterest.com/carson2248

If you would like to receive my newsletter – e-mail me at kait.carson@gmail.com and I’ll subscribe you—of course you can unsubscribe at any time.  The first issue is planned for February.

“After all, tomorrow is another day.”

Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

Happy December! As we reach the end of 2017, many will reflect back with thoughtful consideration, and evaluate the events that filled the year. In literature, as in life, humans like the clarity of The End.  Reaching the end means we can safely evaluate the whole of something, beginning, middle, and end.

However, as readers, our desires are satisfied is varying ways. I’m a “tied up with a bow” reader. Don’t leave me hanging, don’t ask me to envision what might have happened next, just lay it out. That doesn’t mean it has to have a neat and tidy ending of course, but there has to be something.  My father in law gave me The Lovely Bones as a gift. I hated it. Madly. But mostly, it was all about the end.

But, there are so many more books that end in creative or specific or sad or joyous ways! In eighth grade, I chose to read Gone with the Wind for a book report. It was a challenging read, but reading was my passion, and tackle it I did. I’m fairly certain I didn’t understand a notable chunk of the sub-text, but that ending has stuck with me.  Even as a middle school student, I could access the concept of picking ones’ self up, dusting off, and trying again.

“But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.”

The House At Pooh Corner, A.A. Milne

Winnie the Pooh! I still love reading dear Winnie’s stories (although I will admit, I can’t quite enjoy the cartoons the same way). This line above is particularly poignant, especially when I re-visit it as an adult. We buried both my grandmothers this year, and my father two years prior. And yet, there are those places in my memories where they live on, doing the things they always did.

”I never saw any of them again — except the cops. No way has yet been invented to say goodbye to them.”

The Long Goodbye, Raymond Chandler

I realized I hadn’t pulled any great quotes from our genre, and then I found this one by Raymond Chandler. I haven’t actually read the book yet (it’s in my TBR pile), but somehow, this line struck a chord with me.

Tell us about your preferred endings; do you like an author to wrap it up, or encourage you to write your own ending? Do those final lines in a work matter to you as much as the rest of the text?

Interview: Sue Owens Wright

Please welcome Sue Owens Write, author of the Beanie and Cruiser mysteries!

Thank you for these great questions.  You really made me think!

EarsforMurderWhat’s your idea of a perfect day?

My perfect day is one spent with my basset hounds, preferably at Lake Tahoe.  They have always been my best friends and long-eared muses.

Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase/expression, or meal? 

The phrase, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” has been a driving force in my life.  You never know what you can accomplish until you try.  Ignore the naysayers and shoot for the moon.  Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.

Which books/authors inspired or influenced you the most?

The Brontë novels, Anne LaMott’s “Bird by Bird, and works by Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King.  King’s nonfiction book, On Writing is one of the best I’ve read about the subject, humorous and candid.  Last but not least, Margaret Sutton’s Judy Bolton Mysteries, which I avidly read as a child and made me want to write a mystery of my own.

Do you listen to music when you write?

Yes.  I prefer hearing classical music most of the time, but I wrote my historical thriller, The Secret of Bramble Hill, while listening to music by the Irish group, Clannad.  I also listened to the edgy soundtrack from “Basic Instinct” and music by composer Bernard Hermann (of Hitchcock’s “Psycho” fame) while writing suspenseful passages in my mysteries.

If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?

Yum.  Chocolate!  It would have be dark chocolate, my favorite and also the color of my dogs’ eyes.  My naughtiest basset hound, Daisy, who inspired Calamity, Cruiser’s mischievous new canine sidekick in the latest Beanie and Cruiser books, once devoured an entire pound of fudge one Christmas that was left under the tree by accident. When I missed my gift, I found the little culprit hiding in her bed, fudge smeared on her muzzle and all over the bed.  Mystery solved.  Miraculously, Daisy suffered no ill effects from it, but I always thought her eyes were a little darker brown afterward.  A similar incident is included in the fourth book in my Beanie and Cruiser Mysteries, Braced for Murder, when Calamity discovers Beanie’s secret stash of chocolate.

What made you interested in writing this particular story?

The Beanie and Cruiser mysteries are inspired by my experiences at Lake Tahoe, and this book arose from the distress I felt over clear-cutting activity near our family’s cabin and also the Angora firestorm, which was caused by a runaway campfire on June 24, 2007.  I was visiting Tahoe with my two basset hounds, Daisy and Bubba Gump, and we had to evacuate.  It was a terrifying experience I’ll never forget.  I’ve been going to Tahoe since childhood, but that was the first time I realized, “Oh, yeah.  I’m in a forest, and forests can catch fire.”  Too bad those careless campers didn’t realize it, too.

What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing? 

Recurrent themes in the Beanie and Cruiser Mysteries are the environmental issues that impact the Tahoe Basin, animal welfare, and dogs, dogs, dogs; basset hounds, in particular.  My books also tend to have a paranormal aspect to them.  Ghosts may materialize now and then.

Tell us about your main character. Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.

Elsie MacBean is as astute as Sherlock Holmes (she even wears a deerstalker cap in the cold Tahoe winters).  She’s very observant and especially good at reading people, assessing a crime scene, and solving a puzzle when no one else can.  She loves nature and animals and lives a solitary life at Lake Tahoe with her canine companions, Cruiser and Calamity, much like Emily Brontë did with her faithful Staffordshire terrier, Keeper, at the isolated Brontë parsonage on the bleak Yorkshire moors in Haworth, England.  Like Emily, she’s a romantic and loves the solemnity of her woodland retreat and all the wild, free flora and fauna that inhabit it. Beanie’s also a strong Native American woman like Pocohantas, whose ancestor also was a tribal chief. Like her, Beanie is torn between the worlds of the indigenous Washoe Indians and Whites and would risk her own life to save another’s (especially that of a dog).

If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include? 

Agatha Christie, Daphne DuMaurier, Maeve Binchy, Mary Shelley, Emily Brontë, and P.D. James.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently working on the sixth Beanie and Cruiser mystery, my memoir, and a collection of essays about pets.

*****

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASue Owens Wright is an award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction. She is an eleven-time finalist for the Maxwell, awarded annually by the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) to the best writer on the subject of dogs. She has twice won the Maxwell Award and earned special recognition from the Humane Society of the United States for her writing. She writes the acclaimed Beanie and Cruiser Mystery Series, including Howling Bloody Murder, Sirius About Murder, Embarking On Murder and Braced For Murder, which is recommended on the American Kennel Club’s list of Best Dog Books.

Her nonfiction books include What’s Your Dog’s IQ?, 150 Activities for Bored Dogs, and People’s Guide to Pets. She has been published in numerous magazines, including Dog Fancy, Mystery Scene, AKC GAZETTE, Fido Friendly, The Bark, and Animal Fair. Her work also appears in several anthologies, including PEN Oakland’s “Fightin’ Words,” along with Norman Mailer and other literary notables. Her newest novels are The Secret of Bramble Hill and Ears for Murder.

www.sueowenswright.com

http://dogearedbooks.blogspot.com/

https://www.facebook.com/sue.o.wright

Buy Ears for Murder on Amazon

 

Buy Bramble Hill on Amazon

 

Interview: Carl Brookins

Please welcome Carl Brookins, author of Grand Lac!

Grand LacWhat’s your idea of a perfect day?

Early rise, coffee, orange juice, cereal,(hot or cold) daily newspapers 4 hours of work on one or two works in process, lunch with my wife, Internet mail, political discussions, a drink before dinner, research, TV news and more discussion and a good wine with dinner. thence to bed.

Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase/expression, or meal?

No

Which books/authors inspired or influenced you the most?

Shakespeare, John Sandford, William Krueger

Do you listen to music when you write? 

Sometimes.

If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?

M&Ms

What made you interested in writing this particular story?

A tale from my niece which is the foremost action of the novel.

 What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing? 

People relating to and helping others

Tell us about your main character.

Two, in this case, both retirement age, a man and woman with experience, good heart,

And honest attitudes. They have  both seen the best and worst of people.

Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.

Alan has elements of Travis McGee, Marjorie has some reflections of my Niece, Theresa and V.I. Warshawski

If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?

WK Krueger,  John Sandford, Wm. Shakespeare, Ellen Hart, Monica Ferris, John D.McDonald

What’s next for you?

My current WIP is a political thriller,  about the formation of a new political party, named the Progressive Conservative Party (PCP), a mysterious highly protected government enterprise and strange goings on in North Minneapolis, and murder most foul. This book will engage my detective, Sean NMI Sean, in a deep plunge into tangled and illegal political shenanigans.

*****

Before he became a mystery writer and reviewer, Carl Brookins was a counselor and faculty member at Metropolitan State University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Brookins and his wife are avid recreational sailors. He is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Private Eye Writers of America. He can frequently be found touring bookstores and libraries with his companions-in-crime, The Minnesota Crime Wave.
 
He writes the sailing adventure series featuring Michael Tanner and Mary Whitney. The third novel is Old Silver. His new private investigator series features Sean NMI Sean, a short P.I. The first is titled The Case of the Greedy Lawyers. Brookins received a liberal arts degree from the University of Minnesota and studied for a MA in Communications at Michigan State University.

http://www.carlbrookins.com/

https://www.facebook.com/carl.brookins?fref=ts

@carlbrookins

Buy Grand Lac on Amazon 

Buy Reunion on Amazon 

Interview: Hank Early

Please welcome Hank Early, author of the Earl Marcus Mysteries!

Heavens Crooked FingerWhat’s your idea of a perfect day?

Early morning writing with good coffee and a good muffin while the family sleeps. Then a morning with the  family doing something fun like a movie and breakfast. Then I’d like to take a nap with my wife and wake up to do some more writing. The afternoon would be spent with the family at a park somewhere. If it’s a truly perfect day, we’d be able to bring our two dogs and they would behave (never going to happen, ha!). That night we’d all go to dinner at our favorite pizza place. I’d have a couple of my favorite beers and then we’d return home. I’d finish the day by watching some basketball on tv and reading before falling asleep.

Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase/expression, or meal?

Definitely no to the first three. As for the expression, maybe I look sort of dour a lot? I don’t know. Sometimes people think I’m in a bad mood and I’m not, so yeah, I must look sort of dour. Ha!

Which books/authors inspired or influenced you the most?

I’m going to stick with authors. The big three would probably be Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, and James Lee Burke. As a kid I read Agatha Christie and Louis L’amour, and these days I really dig Megan Abbott, Tom Franklin, William Gay, and Paul Tremblay.

Do you listen to music when you write?

It varies. Sometimes I do, but sometimes it distracts me, and I prefer silence. Other times, I don’t want music, but instead crave the background noise of a coffee shop.

If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?

Uhhhh…. milk chocolate? After all that’s the best kind.

What made you interested in writing this particular story?

See my writing influences. Add those to some pretty vivid childhood memories and my long-standing desire to write a detective series, and there you have it.

What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?

You didn’t tell me these were going to be tough questions! I think that’s probably something better left to my readers. I will say I tend to write stories about people in rural settings where the natural world sometimes gets mixed up with the supernatural. Or maybe it doesn’t. Heh.

Tell us about your main character.

Earl Marcus is what his father would call a backslider. He grew up in a fundamentalist, snake-handling church, and after being bitten by a poisonous cottonmouth, he decided to reject his father’s faith. Thirty years later, he’s drawn back home and into the mystery of his father’s life and possible death.

Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.

  1. The Sheriff from Stranger Things
  2. Robert Duvall
  3. My great Uncle Earl (whom I never really knew, but nevertheless became a legend in my mind)

If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?

  1. Stephen King
  2. James Lee Burke
  3. Agatha Christie
  4. Elmore Leonard
  5. Louis L’amour (not a mystery writer, but come on, I bet he would be a blast)
  6. William Gay

What’s next for you?

I’m putting the finishing touches on the second Earl Marcus book, In the Valley of the Devil. It’s coming out in July of 2018. After that, I’ll start the third Earl Marcus book.

*****

Hank EarlyHank Early spent much of his youth in the mountains of North Georgia, but he never held a snake or got struck by lightning.  Heaven’s Crooked Finger (Nov. 7, 2017; Crooked Lane Books) is his first novel.

Although the author did not begin writing until later in life, his fascination with storytelling was sparked early on when he discovered his father’s bookshelf.. “He had Elmore Leonard, Ed McBain, Peter Straub, Dean Koontz and Stephen King, among others.” says Early. “I like to think that everything I write now is something my dad would enjoy and put on that same bookshelf.”

Early holds a Masters in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and has been a middle school teacher in central Alabama for nearly 20 years. Early finds at least one hour each day during the school year for writing, and dedicates his summers and holidays to getting his stories on paper.

Hank Early is the pen name for horror author John Mantooth, whose novel The Year of the Storm was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award.  The author enjoys a good beer, strong coffee and wild storms. He’s married and has two kids who are constantly giving him ideas for his next novel.

Guest Post: Lois Winston

Please give a big Mysterista welcome to Lois Winston, author of the Anastasia Pollock Crafting Mysteries!

Scrapbook of Murder 200x300How a Dysfunctional Family Gave Rise to a Mystery Series

Scrapbook of Murder, the sixth book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, released on Oct. 2nd. Since then, I’ve been making the blog rounds, doing interviews and writing posts to promote the book.

Any author who’s being honest will tell you writing is hard. Promoting the book once it comes out is even harder. It’s never a good idea to try to drum up sales with pleas of “buy my book.” It turns readers off, and no author wants to give readers a reason not to buy her books. So we try to come up with interesting things to say to bond with readers without sounding like used car salesmen. (Apologies to any used car salesmen out there, but I’m sure you know what I mean!)

However, after penning nearly two months’ worth of guest posts about Scrapbook of Murder, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to come up with something fresh to say. Then I noticed that Mysteristas’ November theme is Family. Problem solved.

I grew up in a family that was the polar opposite of all the families portrayed on television when I was a kid. Nowadays TV families are more realistic. Back then TV families were totally unrealistic, idealized versions of family dreamed up by scriptwriters. However, as a kid, I didn’t know that. I wanted parents like the Cleavers, the Andersons, or the Stones.

My parents never should have had one child, let alone four. They only cared about themselves. Many a night my mother would serve us a dinner of banana sliced in a bowl of milk and sprinkled with sugar. After we went to bed hungry, she’d cook steak for herself and my father. That’s just one example of the type of parents they were.

More than anything I wanted to be part of a loving family. I swore I’d never get involved with anyone whose family didn’t measure up to my ideals. When I met my future husband, I not only fell in love with him, I fell in love with his family.

But sometimes people hide their true selves, and such was the case with my future in-laws, especially my mother-in-law. Within a short time after my marriage, our relationship began to deteriorate. It’s not easy dealing with a bully who believes she’s always right, and you’re always wrong—about everything! As she grew older, the nastiness and bullying grew exponentially. And did I mention she was a card-carrying communist?

I think the only thing that saved my marriage and my sanity was my husband accepting a promotion that moved us ninety miles away from his parents—that and the catharsis of getting my revenge by writing about his mother. You see, Lucille, Anastasia’s mother-in-law, is a thinly veiled representation of my own mother-in-law. The situations I create for Lucille may be totally fictitious, but the personality is true to the woman who inspired her.

My mother-in-law died a few years ago, but the psychological wounds she inflicted on me, my husband, and our children live on. Mine joined the ones I sustained from my own parents. But that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right? More importantly, my parents and mother-in-law taught me two important lessons. From my parents I learned how NOT to be a parent, and from my mother-in-law I learned how NOT to be a mother-in-law.

I have a friend who really wants me to kill off Lucille. I could never do that. For one thing, she’s the character many of my readers love to hate. But more importantly, she’s my therapy.

*****

Scrapbook of Murder

An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 6

Crafts and murder don’t normally go hand-in-hand, but normal deserted craft editor Anastasia Pollack’s world nearly a year ago. Now, tripping over dead bodies seems to be the “new normal” for this reluctant amateur sleuth.

When the daughter of a murdered neighbor asks Anastasia to create a family scrapbook from old photographs and memorabilia discovered in a battered suitcase, she agrees—not only out of friendship but also from a sense of guilt over the older woman’s death. However, as Anastasia begins sorting through the contents of the suitcase, she discovers a letter revealing a fifty-year-old secret, one that unearths a long-buried scandal and unleashes a killer. Suddenly Anastasia is back in sleuthing mode as she races to prevent a suitcase full of trouble from leading to more deaths.

Buy Links:

Kindle http://amzn.to/2ffIMgy

Kobo https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/scrapbook-of-murder

iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/scrapbook-of-murder/id1286758416?mt=11

Nook https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/scrapbook-of-murder-lois-winston/1127145157?ean=2940158851896

Paperback http://amzn.to/2y2Omhl

*****

lois-winston-med-res-fileUSA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry.

Website: www.loiswinston.com

Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog: www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/anasleuth

Twitter at https://twitter.com/Anasleuth

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