October Book News

harvest moonHarvest Moon

2017 the Harvest Moon will occur October 5th.

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Lise McClendon here… from the far southwest tip of Montana. Not the end of the world but you can see it from here! I’m still letting people know about my new women’s fiction/suspense novel set in France, the fifth in the Bennett Sisters Mysteries. It’s called The Frenchman, a title so bland it’s been used a million times. Hence, here is the link: THE FRENCHMAN. If you haven’t had a chance to read any of the novels, start with Blackbird Fly.

October brings an anthology of riffs on conspiracy theories that roiled through the Obama years, edited by the talented Gary Phillips. I have a short story in The Obama Inheritance: Fifteen Stories of Conspiracy Noir, set in a fictional Montana town called Forked Tongue. It is, needless to say, about Russian trolls and fake news (maybe not so fictional… 🙄) Walter Mosley is the big name in here but there are lots of fascinating takes on aliens, ninjas, and Michelle. Something for everyone, for sure. And, yes, Obama is blue on the cover!

From the publisher: “In an era where the outlandish and fantastic has permeated our media 24/7, where mind-bending conspiracy theories shape our views, THE OBAMA INHERITANCE writers riff on the numerous fictions spun about the 44th president of the U.S. Although Obama himself does not appear in most of these stories, contributors spin deliberately outlandish and fantastic twists on many of the dozens of screwball, bizarro conspiracy theories floated about the president during his years in office and turn them on their heads.”

It’s available for pre-order now. It goes live in ebook and paperback on October 10, and will be in Montana bookstores (or by special order.) Have a lovely, leafy autumn 🍂🍃🍁

Leslie Budewitz: Congratulations, Lise!

Christine Carbo and I just returned from the Montana Book Festival in Missoula, where we were part of a conversation about the contemporary mystery set in the west. In mid October, we’ll both be attending Bouchercon, the annual world mystery convention, being held this year in Toronto! And I’ll be leaving the board of Sisters in Crime, the international writers’ organization focused on the recognition, advancement, and professional development of women crime writers. It’s been an honor to serve — writing is a solo activity, but every opportunity I’ve had, and many of the joys, have come to me because of a group.

Wishing you the pleasures and joys of this sweet season!

 

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September Book News

sept in mt

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: September is a month of mixed feelings in these parts. A signal of a fresh start almost as palpable as January, as the weather begins to change and the kids head back to school (we all feel it, don’t we, no matter what our age), mingled with a sense of loss, as another glorious Rocky Mountain summer slips behind us.

In Book News, Christine Carbo and I will be on a panel together, along with mystery writers Gwen Florio and Mark Stevens, at the Montana Book Festival in Missoula, Sept 29-30. (We don’t know the date or time yet, so check in with the Festival or one of us, if you plan to go.) We’ll be talking about modern mysteries set in the west, how place influences character, and much more. I hope to see you there!

Meanwhile, delighted to say that Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine will publish a short story of mine next year titled “All God’s Sparrows,” featuring the real-life—and larger than life—character, Mary Fields. I’ll share the pub date and ordering info as the date approaches.

Enjoy these last glorious days of summer, and thank you for spending them with us.

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LISE McCLENDON Okay, it’s not quite slippers-by-the-fire weather yet but in case you’re stocking up for chilly weather, my new mystery, The Frenchman, is coming out very soon. This is the fifth installment in the Bennett Sisters Mystery series and we’re back in France this time. Merle Bennett is writing her own novel while taking a leave of absence in the Dordogne, so, yes, this is a story-inside-a-story. When that Frenchman, Pascal, runs into an old nemesis and goes missing, Merle must rally the troops to find him.  After an exclusive run I’m back on all e-book platforms (yay!) Amazon Nook KOBO iBooks  Also available in paperback. Happy autumn reading 🍁

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Book Signing by Karen Wills author of River with No Bridge  Saturday, September 16, 2017, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Montana Book and Toy Company, 331 North Last Chance Gulch, Helena, Montana.                  

river with no bridgeThis month’s issue of Cowgirl calls the novel a “compelling and touching story.” Booklist’s review of the novel called it “a gripping, sometimes heartbreaking story of immigrant survival in the West.” The August Historical Novel Society Reviews sums up with,   “I love pioneering stories and gritty women, and Ms. Wills’ engrossing tale provides both.”

Sunday, September 17th at 2:00 p.m. the Lewis and Clark Library at 120 South Last Chance Gulch will present Questions and Answers on Writing a Historical Novel with Karen Wills.

Karen looks forward, as always, to a visit with friends in Helena.

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Getting Lost in the Reseach

By Janice McCaffrey

Last year during a tour of France my daughter, Bonnie, and I made a quick stop in Marseille; a jumping-off point to Monaco. Our focus was on Princess Grace Kelly; the palace and a drive up the famous, winding, cliff-hugging road.

Our train from Paris arrived in Marseille late afternoon. We picked up a rental car and headed to our Airbnb lodging in the old part of the city. In a blink of an eye we found ourselves on narrow streets filled with cars racing around curves, merging into already clogged streets, with drivers who had seemingly no regard for others.  Very loud motor cycles whipped in and out around moving vehicles, driving not in the lanes, but on the lines that divide them. And Bonnie kept up the pace.

marseille traffic

 

 

 

Yikes!! I held on tight!

 

 

Flying past ancient-looking pastel stone buildings, I caught a glimpse of a Moroccan man standing in front of a shop laughing with a couple of other men.

The GPS system directed us to public parking close to the apartment and we walked from there. After climbing 107 steps of a circular staircase with broken tiles under foot, yes, with our luggage, we settled into the apartment which was definitely worth the climb. Then we walked down the steps (much easier than climbing up) to the old port soaking up the area’s history and atmosphere.

We were greeted by bright sunshine, clear blue skies with a warm breeze off the sparkling Mediterranean Sea’s varied hues of blues and greens. My kind of perfect day.

marseille w bonnie

                           I fell in love.                          And the story began.

Back home committing my imagination to paper I needed the name of the Moroccan man’s attire. Yea for Google!! After finding info and photos of the jabador more Googling got me a suitable name for him, place of birth, and back story.

 I have to admit that I can get lost in the research. I have spent hours on internet searches and studying the results. And Google maps is indispensable for settings and determining distances. Their street views are wonderful and were invaluable as I orchestrated a chase scene around Marseille.

Besides giving me many enjoyable hours investigating and learning, one thing always leads to another. The history of Morocco pointed the way to the Phoenician peoples where their history gave me the item of antiquity the story would center around.

An article entitled Research for Fiction Writing in Cornell Research by Alexander Chang explains how J. Robert Lennon, author of See You in Paradise (Greywolf, 2014) and teacher of English at Cornell University uses the internet searches to find details for his stories. Here’s a quote:

In doing research as a fiction writer, Lennon embraces a term his wife once called [him and his friends] them: professional dilettantes. “I like that as a description for writers,” he says. “I love going to parties with writers—they always have super shallow knowledge of a zillion different things.”

I had to Google the definition, but it made me laugh out loud!

                                  diləˈtänt,diləˈtäntē/ noun 1. a person who cultivates 

                                  an area of interest without real commitment or knowledge.

That’s me! Due to my love of research I know a multitude of unrelated facts. Like:

Did you know the Phoenicians were the first known people to establish an alphabet? They were industrious and successful merchants who needed a method of keeping their accounts. This was back between 1500 and 1050 B.C. They devised 22 letters, only consonants, to represent the sound of their language. Over time the Greeks and Romans adjusted the original symbols which eventually gave us our 26 letters that represent the sound of our language. This chart shows the changes.

alphabet changes

                                                                       

 

 

And now . . .  we’re hooked on phonics!

 

 

 

These people also invented ink and paper. And when they bound pages together for the first time in the city of Bylos its name led to two of our modern-day words—book and bible.

I can tell you the history of sweet potatoes. Indigenous of South America Columbus took them back to Spain and Portugal. From there Portuguese sailors introduced them to Nigeria where their main crop was another tuber they called yams (not to be confused with our yams, theirs is white and round and belongs to a different plant family). Eventually the slave trade ships brought seedlings to North Carolina which is now our main growing area for the delicious tuber.

Oh, yes. And then there’s Queen Anne’s nephew Edward Hyde Lord Cornbury who held the office of Governor in both New York and New Jersey from 1701-1708. To open the New Jersey General Assembly he dressed as a woman of fashion. His rational was that since he represented a woman, Queen Anne, he should look like one.

lord cornbury

lord cornbury explained

And if you ever want to know the particulars of the early Pennsylvania-German’s Groundhog traditions, just ask.

For some writers research may be a drudgery to avoid at all costs, but for me it opens the world of ideas, events, characters, and settings.

I love getting lost in the research!