It’s nice to walk away. If only for a little while.

It has been 125 days since I have written a word of fiction. This is remarkable, given that I have spent virtually all of the last 20 years under a publishing deadline or working on a new book concept to sell. The panic I felt when I first decided to take this break has subsided, replaced by a kind of dreamy calm about what the future might bring for my writing. I feel lighter and hopeful. I feel liberated even. I feel released from the habits of the past.

I needed a break badly. I was exhausted, both from trying to juggle an overcrowded life and from having to breathe life into the business end of my writing. I wanted to stop and get a new perspective. I wanted to enjoy the process again. I wanted to wake up without a deadline or mile-long To Do list hanging over my head. I wanted to feel my days. It had gotten to the point where the days were all just flying by and it felt as if I was chasing the memory of them, rather than actually living them.

What I didn’t realize when I embarked on this sabbatical was that my imagination needed a break, too. When you hear the clock ticking faster with every writing session, there is no way a writer can do anything but go to their default. Your characters end up looking and behaving as they have always looked and behaved, even when you think you’ve made them different. You see your characters as you want to see them, not as they really are or as how your readers see them. Your plots start — and end — where they have always started and ended. It is only the middle but differs and, when you’re on a tight enough deadline, even the middle often looks the same once you peek below the surface. Continue reading “It’s nice to walk away. If only for a little while.”

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Meeting Evil

By Katy Munger

There are very few writers in this world who don’t eventually get around to inviting evil into their books. But few revel in the exploration of pure, unadulterated evil as much as we crime writers. It is an irresistible lure — to examine the age-old question of whether people are inherently good or inherently bad, to ponder whether the way we have evolved has helped us conquer evil or simply helped us find new ways to celebrate it.

As a writer, I started my career depicting evil as the inevitable by-product of good people gone bad, misguided souls who had somehow taken a wrong turn and stumbled onto the dark side. By the time I was in the middle of my Casey Jones series, I had acknowledged that there are people who walk among us who embrace evil, who think of no one but themselves and who have turned their backs on the better impulses we humans share because their sole motivation is to have what they want. But it is only with my latest series, the Dead Detective, that I have come to believe in — and to write about  — evil as a force independent from the existence of humans. Evil now finds its way into my books about life and death, infiltrating the characters that inhabit my books, and surviving even when those characters are gone. But what may be surprising to some of you is that I do not write about evil in this way to add suspense to my books or to scare readers. I do not even write about evil as a symbol of human behavior.  I write about it and its manifestations because I truly believe that, while good lives in each of us and binds us together, evil is a tangible force that roams our world, searching from person to person, seeking entry in envy, deprivation, shame, anger, resentment and more — all those emotions that spread over us like fissures in the shell of an egg, cracking ourselves open and inviting evil to enter.

I did not evolve into acknowledging evil lightly. It is not the culmination of some sort of New Age beliefs nor is it born of any sort of religious fervor. I believe in evil because, many years after the fact, I have at last come to terms with the reality that I once met it. I am going to tell you about that night now. Continue reading “Meeting Evil”

Happy new electronic year!

Got a new Nook or Kindle? Lots of folks are jumping on the e-book bandwagon and as authors we are all thrilled to get more folks reading fiction, whether ours or somebody else’s. Several of us here at Thalia Press Authors Co-op have free or specially priced e-books right now. Go forth and load up those e-readers!

Gary Phillips is offering up up a free holiday story for everyone — The Kwanzaa Initiative at FourStory.

Sparkle Hayter has the first book in her very funny Robin Hudson series,  available in many formats for free at Smashwords.com

Katy Munger is offering many of her mysteries for free for Amazon Prime members. Her Casey Jones mysteries are a kick-ass ride. Check them out!

Rory Tate (that’s Lise McClendon) is also offering up her new thriller Jump Cut for free to Amazon Prime members who can borrow books for Kindle.

And don’t forget DEAD OF WINTER, the short story anthology for your Kindle and Nook. Chilling stories from bestselling mystery writers for only $4.99.

Subscribe to the blog to find out about future promotions and free e-books.

I’m in a U.K. state of mind

I find myself in a UK frame of mind these days – suffused with goodwill toward that grand kingdom and wishing I could hop on a plane and walk her streets and shores again. Not only do I have a new British publisher, Severn House, but they are lifting my books out of paperback original obscurity and bringing out the new Dead Detective in hardback. It has been a long time since I had the joy of holding one of my books in my hands and slowly thudding myself over the head with it, enjoying its substance. On top of that, I get to have an editor named James Nightingale, which sounds very posh to me, and the UK includes Ireland, where I left my heart a decade ago and hope to find again, in person, one day.

More than that, as a Southerner, I remain deeply grateful to the UK for recognizing southern culture for its richness and originality. The truth is that they do a far better job of appreciating the American South than the rest of America does. Recently, I had the fun of watching my first Casey Jones book, Legwork, rise in the ranks of Kindle books in the UK, a first for that series as it was never distributed separately on the other side of the pond. I am delighted that people there — who appreciated Elvis and rock-and-roll and Muddy Waters and Muscle Shoals soul long before we in America could ­— are going to meet Casey. I know they will understand that a sense of place is oh-so-important both to her and to the books. Continue reading “I’m in a U.K. state of mind”

Living with split personalities….

I wear many hats in life: writer, mom, advocate for political change, friend and more. I cope by compartmentalizing. It is rare when one of my lives crosses over into the other. All of which makes it supremely ironic that when it comes to my writing, I am constantly crossing sub-genres and leaving fans and critics at a loss as to how to describe my writing: “cozies with an edge,” “humorous hardboiled,” “paranormal procedurals” and more. I’m not sure if it’s cost me readers, but I do know it has made marketing my books a nightmare for my publishers. And it has spawned some of the strangest covers in the history of crime fiction. The original Casey Jones covers jumped from Nevada Barr-like art to Evanovich cartoons to a couple incomprehensible melds of both and finally settled down on the fourth try to something actually resembling the tone of the book. Read More…

I wear many hats in life: writer, mom, advocate for political change, friend and more. I cope by compartmentalizing. It is rare when one of my lives crosses over into the other. All of which makes it supremely ironic that when it comes to my writing, I am constantly crossing sub-genres and leaving fans and critics at a loss as to how to describe my writing: “cozies with an edge,” “humorous hardboiled,” “paranormal procedurals” and more. I’m not sure if it’s cost me readers, but I do know it has made marketing my books a nightmare for my publishers. And it has spawned some of the strangest covers in the history of crime fiction. The original Casey Jones covers jumped from Nevada Barr-like art to Evanovich cartoons to a couple incomprehensible melds of both and finally settled down on the fourth try to something actually resembling the tone of the book. Invariably, in a quest to guide readers, the staff of marketing always chose to weigh in with cover art on the lighter side of the equation, leaving me always having to answer readers who wrote to say they were upset by one section of my book or another that led the book into an unexpected dark corner. Continue reading “Living with split personalities….”

Katy Munger: TPAC Author

I’m proud to be in the company of so many great authors. We’ve all worked our butts off for years creating really good books for readers who want more than copycats books.  It’s great to have the opportunity to connect with  a wider audience  now. I’ve got a cozy series, a bawdy humorous series and even a deeper, more introspective series for you to try. Check them out.