Monday, December 19, 2016

Guest Post: Eve Seymour - Don't Tell Anyone

I would like to introduce Midnight Ink author Eve Seymour, who will be sharing thoughts on her latest title (written under the pseudonym Eleanor Gray) Don't Tell Anyone and her upcoming March title An Imperfect Past.


A Note from Eve Seymour

As I write, we are fast approaching Christmas, an occasion when, traditionally, families spend time with each other.  Without putting a downer on it, by January, divorce lawyers across the globe will be filling their appointment diaries with glee! 

It’s not exactly rocket science to fathom the reason why.  Couples who ‘rub along’ during the rest of the year, separated by work and, in many cases, child commitments often don’t fare so well when cooped up for the Christmas holidays.  Throw in the odd visiting relative, second time around spouses, stepchildren and half-siblings, occasionally too much booze, and, even in the most loving family unit, cracks appear, tensions exacerbate and old enmities surface.  In short, a toxic mix is there for the taking and with, sometimes, combustible results.  So where am I going with this?

My latest novels, ‘Don’t Tell Anyone’ under pseudonym Eleanor Gray, and ‘An Imperfect Past’, the sequel to ‘Beautiful Losers,’ revolve around family ties that sustain, but can also be dysfunctional.  Conflict is the name of the game in stories, and family units provide a rich seam for writers to mine.  Where else do passions run high and hatreds deep?   And I haven’t even started on secrets.

There is a saying:  ‘Write what you know’.  I’ve never been particularly sold on the idea because what most people ‘know’ is fairly commonplace.  When writing spy fiction, I did a lot of research and reading about what I patently didn’t know and then used my findings as a backdrop for unfolding drama.  However with my Kim Slade novels and ‘Don’t Tell...’ I confess I drew on my own family background.  Grace Neville in ‘Don’t Tell...’ loses her only daughter.  I have never lost a child, thank goodness, but, as a mother of five children, I could go some way to imagining what it must be like.  I was also able to use my own childhood experience of loss to feed into Grace’s grief.  In a similar vein, Kim Slade the clinical psychologist in ‘Beautiful Losers’ and ‘An Imperfect Past’ is consumed by the absence of a mom in her life and the secrets that unfold prior to her mother’s disappearance and, later, reappearance.   Despite my assertion ‘don’t write what you know’, I appear to have shot myself in the proverbial foot!

However you look at it, Kim and Grace’s stories are everyday tales with which many can empathize, the dramatic element only necessary for the purposes of fiction.  Whatever your story, I hope you and your family have a fabulous, healthy and peaceful 2017. 

 ***
Nearly lost in a fog of grief over the fatal stabbing of her daughter, art historian Grace Neville feels only sorrow as Jordan Dukes is found guilty of murder. Days after the sentencing, Grace receives a visit from Jordan’s father, who claims that his son is innocent and a grave miscarriage of justice has taken place. Jordan’s history of gang-related violence and the fact that he doesn’t have an alibi make his father’s plea hard to believe. But then why does somebody break into Grace’s home and go through her daughter’s belongings?

In Don’t Tell Anyone, Eleanor Gray explores the relationship between a mother and a daughter, and the secrets that drive Grace to seek the truth no matter what the cost.

Eleanor Gray/Eve Seymour (England) has written nine novels under several pseudonyms. She began writing after a successful career in public relations and raising five children. She has published articles in Devon Today magazine and had a number of her short stories broadcast on BBC Radio. Visit her at www.evseymour.co.uk

***
An Imperfect Past is available March 8, 2017

The past can be a foreign country and, for Kim Slade, a clinical psychologist specializing in young women with eating disorders, it's deadly, too.

No sooner than Kim returns to work after a mental breakdown, she's summoned to the deathbed of a former client, Mimi Vellender. Mimi's dying wish is that Kim finds her brother, Nicholas, who mysteriously disappeared five years ago.

Just as mysteriously, Kim's long-estranged mother, Monica, comes back into her life following the suspicious death of the judge she worked for as a live-in housekeeper. Is the sudden desire for a family reunion all it seems, or does Monica have something to hide?

Also, have a wonderful holiday season!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Guest Post: Sue Ann Jaffarian - Rhythm & Clues

Ideas? 
I've Got a Million of Them!
by Sue Ann Jaffarian


As I write this blog post, I am hard at work on my 12th Odelia Grey novel. Yes, you read that right - #12. Blows my mind.

I currently have 24 published books, spread across four different series. It’s been an amazing journey and there is no end in sight, thankfully.

One of the most common questions I get at book events is: How do you come up with so many new ideas?

Hmmmm, frankly, I don’t know, but I’m not looking a gift horse in the mouth.

I am always puzzled when other authors say they have no idea what to write next. Not because I think that’s silly, but because I’ve never experienced an empty faucet. I have new book ideas stacked up like planes over Chicago, just waiting for their turn to land. Some are for current series, some are for new series, and some are for stand-alone novels. I hope to be writing until someone slips a toe-tag on me.

So how can a writer avoid the empty well problem? Here are my tips:

Be Observant. About everything. I look for plots ideas everywhere. And sometimes they strike me when I’m not looking. Once a billboard caught my eye and bingo I saw the beginning of a book plot. Another time I was in a restaurant, overhead a conversation, and an idea hit. I immediately jotted it down on a napkin, mid-meal.

Read and Watch. The news, TV shows, books, movies, commercials, magazine articles, social media, etc., are all great breeding grounds for new ideas. I’m not saying to copy those ideas, but sometimes the smallest detail or character trait in someone else’s writing can trigger an entirely new book idea for you. That’s happened to me many times. You’re watching a show and suddenly the old what if? hits you, and you’re off and running.

Dismiss Nothing. If you get an idea that you think is too silly or weird, don’t toss it aside. It might just be the best foundation for a book plot you ever had. Go down the path a bit and see what turns up. You might be surprised.

Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone. You don’t write romance? So, give it a try. You don’t write about the paranormal? I didn’t either until I got the idea for my very popular Ghost of Granny Apples series. If you write police procedurals, try your hand at an amateur sleuth novel. Don’t be afraid to write about things you don’t know about. You can learn.

Throw Nothing Away. If you find an article or idea that interests you, but you’re not ready to use it, don’t dismiss it. Write it down and save it. Print it out and save it. Save it in a hard folder or on your computer, but save it. Several of my books involved plots that came to me years before I actually used them. Ideas do not need to be immediate. They do not have a shelf life like milk. Even a lot of topical ideas can be written long after they occur in the news.

Add New Recurring Characters to Existing Series. This is a great way to bring in new plot ideas. Or beef up a minor character from earlier books and slowly weave them into the main fabric of the series.

Keeping it fresh. One of the biggest problems with writing a long-running series is coming up with new plots. Avoid regurgitating old ideas for lack of new ones, and look out for becoming too formulaic in your plots. Stretch your legs and your mind and be open to ideas that are different. If you don’t, both you and your readers will become bored with your writing, and it’s difficult to recover from that situation.

Now get out there and write and flourish. I’ve got a book to finish!

***

Amateur sleuth Odelia Grey tries to get a band back together—and get her mother off the hook—in book eleven of the award-winning series

It’s a rockin’ flashback for Odelia Grey when her mother asks her to look into the disappearance of her neighbor Bo Shank, the former lead singer for a band Odelia idolized in her youth. But when a body is found in Bo Shank’s house, everything quickly gets thrown out of tune.


Sue Ann Jaffarian is a full-time paralegal who lives and works in Los Angeles. A member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters In Crime, Sue Ann is the author of three mystery series—Odelia Grey, Ghost of Granny Apples, and Madison Rose—and also writes general fiction and short stories. She is widely sought after as a motivational and humorous speaker.

For the most up-to-date list of all Sue Ann's activities, visit the calendar page at www.sueannjaffarian.com.