This Week’s Author Round Up: Writing Difficulties

February 25th, 2019 → 6:53 pm @

My Donna Leigh Mystery series revolves around a menopausal ad agency owner in Omaha, Nebraska. Although each book encompasses the murder of someone known to the protagonist, the books are actually comedies. With three books in the series, the challenges have been in finding credible enough yet over-the-top comedic events, without an over-abundance of similarity, and in keeping the plot fresh enough overall that the books don’t start to feel formulaic.

Evanovich’s protagonist, Stephanie Plum, pretty much always sets a car on fire, it’s her signature comedic move. Perhaps I should have set a precedent like that, because creating new and outrageous scenarios is increasingly a challenge.

Each book requires approximately six comedic events to keep things moving at a fast pace. I realized this would be a daunting task as early as my second book, and the third book was that much more intimidating.

Along those same lines, it is a genuine challenge to keep my plots from becoming formulaic. The same characters want to say and do the same things. It is imperative to find ways to pull them out of their comfort zone without pulling them out of character.

Folks have suggested that I move on from Donna Leigh and start a whole new series, but my gut is telling me to stick with her for at least another book or two. And if I’ve learned one thing in this whole experience, it’s to trust my gut.

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This Week’s Round Up Question, What Was Surprising in My Writing?

January 2nd, 2019 → 5:30 pm @

When I first decided to write a book, I selected a painful topic, the story of how three colleagues and I bought an ad agency back from a major international holding company. It was a fascinating time. We were assaulted by all around us, the executives selling the company, the other potential buyers, the colleagues who opted not to be involved in the purchase and the staff who desperately wanted details we were not legally permitted to share.

I didn’t get very far in writing this book for two reasons, a nagging fear that I would get sued by one or more of these miscreants, and the fact that every sentence was painful to write – it was not a joyful time.

When I asked my future publisher if he thought I would get sued, he said probably not, but he agreed to show his attorney. About a week later he came to me with a question “My attorney wants to know, are many of these people dead yet?” Answer “Not enough!”

That publisher suggested I backburner the book, but he also asked me what was my passion. I told him comedy. He suggested I write my comedy and send it to him. In a blink, I had the first three chapters of Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch? I forwarded it to him for an opinion, and the rest is history.

What took me completely by surprise was how much fun I had writing. After my first attempt at what would undoubtedly have been a drama I expected to be suffering and hating every session with my reward being the final result, assuming I made it to the finish line.

What I found instead was that the writing itself was a sheer delight. I would wake up on a Saturday and start writing at 8 a.m., working practically non-stop through the evening cocktail hour. Then I’d wake up Sunday and do the same all over again. I couldn’t wait for my fingers to hit the keyboard. And when the manuscript came back after each edit, I swore at one or two irritating comments and then I got down to business and happily wrote again. I loved comments like “you’re in a restaurant but I don’t know what it looks like,” because that gave me license to write some more. It was not only fun, it was improving my masterpiece.

After the pain of that first failed attempt I never expected that the writing could possibly be this much fun. Now, if I should ever get the guts to go back and finish that first book, I think it would make one hell of an action-packed movie.

 

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This week’s author Round up Addresses the Difficulty of Writing Characters of the Opposite Sex

December 17th, 2018 → 4:16 pm @

I killed a woman in each of my first two books. They were intimate and personal murders and the details revealed themselves easily.

No women were killed in my third book, only men. I won’t mention the number (you know, spoiler alert), but suffice it to say that there has been nothing personal and/or intimate about how I have murdered men.

It’s not something I’d ever thought about before answering this question, but the facts are undeniable. I kill women more elegantly than I kill men.

Sharing ideas

Sharing ideas

LaVista Author Talk

 

I’ve read about how men tend to murder in a more gruesome and personal way and women prefer a cleaner, poison-based crime. In examining my work, I would have to say that I’ve murdered women in a more gruesome, close up manner (none of which have not been graphically depicted because they are cozy mysteries) and the men in a more distant method with less explicit details that are abruptly glossed over.

Get a jump on your Christmas shopping

Get a jump on your Christmas shopping!

Why that is remains unclear to me, although as I unpeel the onion the women have been murdered for bad behavior in personal relationships, that caught up with them. My men, on the other hand, have been murdered for acts far more public than personal. This leads me to believe that I am may not be comfortable addressing men’s private feelings and related actions, so I build a layer of separation between their feelings and the motives for their murders.

Perhaps, it’s merely because my third book is my first experience with murdering a friend. Could it be as simple as that? Murdering a friend was definitely more difficult than murdering those hateful, shrewish women. It was a genuine challenge to find the right balance between expressions of grief and sadness without completely killing the humor.

When I review the question about the difficulties of writing for the opposite sex I have more questions than answers. Who would have guessed that with all my focus on writing mysteries, I am the real mystery?

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This Week’s Round Up Question: What is the Most Difficult Part of the Artistic/Writing Process?

December 5th, 2018 → 8:54 pm @

My Donna Leigh Mystery series revolves around a menopausal ad agency owner in Omaha, Nebraska. Although each book encompasses the murder of someone known to the protagonist, the books are actually comedies. With three books in the series, the challenges have been in finding credible enough yet over-the-top comedic events, without an over-abundance of similarity, and in keeping the plot fresh enough overall that the books don’t start to feel formulaic.

Evanovich’s protagonist, Stephanie Plum, pretty much always sets a car on fire, it’s her signature comedic move. Perhaps I should have set a precedent like that, because creating new and outrageous scenarios is increasingly a challenge.

Each book requires approximately six comedic events to keep things moving at a fast pace. I realized this would be a daunting task as early as my second book, and the third book was that much more intimidating.

Along those same lines, it is a genuine challenge to keep my plots from becoming formulaic. The same characters want to say and do the same things. It is imperative to find ways to pull them out of their comfort zone without pulling them out of character.

Folks have suggested that I move on from Donna Leigh and start a whole new series, but my gut is telling me to stick with her for at least another book or two. And if I’ve learned one thing in this whole experience, it’s to trust my gut.

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Check out my “hardest scene to write” in this week’s author Round Up

November 26th, 2018 → 4:24 pm @

Question: What Was Your Hardest Scene to Write?

In my first book Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch? I wrote a scene featuring a remodeling contractor from a small town in Nebraska. I wanted to change his pattern of speech from the arguably more urban patterns of the characters residing in Omaha. I wanted there to be a distinction.

I wasn’t trying to make this character sound distinctly back woods, rural because that’s not really a thing in Nebraska, so finding a distinction was challenging. He wasn’t uneducated, so giving him bad grammar was not the solution, and we tend to be accent neutral in Nebraska so I didn’t have much with which to work.

Bookdisplay

Bookdisplay

I wanted this character to be sweet and just a tad naïve. How does that sound? As I wrote, I found myself slipping into the cadence of a southern twang – NO! edit, edit, edit.

A great panel

A great panel

 

After finishing the book it officially went into editing. On the fourth round, my editor commented “you have this contractor who starts out talking like a hick and almost immediately evolves into having the elocution of a Harvard grad. Fix it.” Wow, how I not see that?

So, I was back at the drawing board. That short scene was the hardest I’ve ever written or rewritten – before or since. I labored over every word he spoke. In the end, I had to invent some speech patterns based on imagination and fleeting experience with folks in rural areas either through road trips across the state, or films about the Midwest. I think it works – but even now I’m not positive. In fact I can feel myself starting to perspire as I write the response to this question.

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Thank B2B For The Great Article!

June 7th, 2016 → 6:33 pm @

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Another Council Bluffs Author’s Fair

November 23rd, 2015 → 9:59 pm @

It was the first Author’s Fair for Book 2: I Didn’t Kill Her But That May Have Been Shortsighted – and it was fun to share the limelight with Cedric and his first novel – here we are at the Council Bluffs Author’s Fair:

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Council Bluffs Public Library

Council Bluffs Public Library

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I Didn’t Kill Her But That May Have Been Shortsighted is Now on Amazon!

October 24th, 2015 → 5:52 pm @

The second book in the Donna Leigh Mystery series is now available in paperback on Amazon – Kindle is soon to follow.

Get it here: http://www.amazon.com/Didnt-Shortsighted-Donna-Leigh-Mysteries/dp/1943976007/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1445709551&sr=1-1&keywords=robin+leemann+donovan

Available NowBackCoverCheck

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Checking Copy for Book 2 Has Finally Arrived!

October 14th, 2015 → 3:40 pm @

I Didn’t Kill Her But That May Have Been Short Sighted is days away from being available on Amazon!

BookCheck1 BookCheck2 Bookcheck3 BackCoverCheck

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Thank you, Angela, for the great review!

August 24th, 2015 → 7:56 pm @

Angela Shockley (Reviewer) has just completed feedback for Is It Still Murder Even If She Was a Bitch?.

Add positive reviews to your NetGalley title record by following this link: https://www.netgalley.com/publisher/viewReview/review_id/1915713

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Full Text: Did the title catch your attention? That’s the whole reason I requested this title in NetGalley! I quickly read through Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch. Like most mysteries, the investigators suck at their job and the heroine/hero has to figure it out before they’re killed, too! What you get here is a dash of The Devil Wears Prada and Murder She Wrote. It’s a fun story and I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good little mystery.

Additional Questions:

Are you reviewing this title for a publication? No

Would you purchase this book for yourself or a friend? Yes

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