Friday, March 30, 2012

Creative Anthropology, Anybody?

Oxymoron, right? How do you make anthropology creative? Simple. Be a writer in need of an endangered species for your story. Paranormal writers do it all the time. Create something that does not exist and make it believable.
When I was writing the rough draft of Last Cowboy, I put an environmentalist into the story and had to have something she might find down in Stone County, Missouri. Several of my characters were lake fishermen who needed bait, so I created a miniature frog and called it a gamie. Turned out, I had to go further by giving it a scientific name, and that was where my creativity was tested. I struggled with a couple of names nobody would believe, and then consulted my scientific encyclopedia. The final name? Amphibios Miniare Gamine.
Sounds authentic, right? In a way, it is. But, and this is a huge one, as far as I know, there is no such frog on the planet, much less in Table Rock Lake. They do use all manner of live bait down there, though, and this fit exactly into my storyline.
How many times do we, as creative writers, have to concoct something to fit our stories? I've had a few, but I have to admit this one is my favorite. Just another part of fiction authoring, it is a pursuit that facilitates our work.
And I'm all for facilitating. How about you?
PS. Last Cowboy in Texas is free for a few more hours today, Friday March 30th, on Amazon. At last count, it ranked #35 in fiction humor. Not bad for a funny little story with a funny little frog in it. LOL

Friday, March 9, 2012

Read A Good Book Lately?

This year has been a very productive one for me, and a very busy one. As I approach the release of my eighth novel since last April, I realize how much time I’ve spent doing the creative and non-creative work of writing, editing, and polishing all those books. While getting that done, I’ve also written two more and finished another two. So, it’s been an exciting but exhausting year.

My recent blogs have been about various aspects of the writing life, and I’ll continue to do that from time to time. Today, however, I want to discuss another topic, my title question. During the year’s activities I outlined above, I’ve also been able to read more than fifty books. Mostly full length novels, they take some time to read. Time well spent, I might add.

Along with a handful of noted authors, much of my reading has been given over to my writing peers. What I’ve read from my fellow authors has been encouraging for the most part. Oh, there were a couple of clunkers in the mix, but for the most part well written novels of various genres. While the world of fiction publishing continues to swirl around the controversy over eBook versus print book, writers plug away at their craft in hopes of turning that craft into art. Some have succeeded and I’d like to highlight books of unusual merit on my blog.

Now for the reason I titled this column with a question; I’d like for you, the readers, to offer your suggestion for the best book you’ve read in a given time period. For our first go at this venture, let’s make it a long time frame. So, for our first forum, send me the title and author of the best book you read in calendar year 2011. Listings will be anonymous and your personal data will not be mentioned or used for any purpose whatsoever.

I plan to follow this format on a monthly basis, starting next month. We’ll discuss the best books we’ve read, beginning with January, 2012. That gives us a three month lead time to have read the books and let our minds digest them. Over time, as this thing grows, I’d like to add a follow-up forum on the best books we’ve chosen; sort of an informal review readers can use when choosing their next book. We’re starting small so we’ll include all fiction genres in our list. As we grow, we’ll be able to separate into different categories of fiction.

For what I hope you will consider incentive, I’m offering an ARC of my next novel, Toccata, a St. Louis Blues Mystery, scheduled for release in May. The winner will be chosen by drawing from a hat the name of someone who sends in their favorite title and author. Send your favorite title/author to me at: and I’ll compile the list between now and March 31st.

To summarize, you send your nomination for the best book you read in 2011 to my email address above. I’ll add your name to the others in a hat and at the end of the month, I’ll draw one name for the prize. The first week of April, I’ll publish the list of nominated books for best read of 2011. Other than the random drawing for the prize, nominated books will simply be listed as good reads that our colleagues have recommended.

Help me make this a favorite site for readers to discover their next great book to read. Thanks in advance for doing a service for all our readers. PD

Friday, March 2, 2012

Another Writer Dilemma: Help

I've just submitted the second in my St. Louis Blues series. Blood Lust will follow up on Toccata, with my protagonists emerging from the aftermath of the Sera incident. The third book, A Fatal Flaw, is on the drawing board. I know where it's going and how it will get there.
Here's my dilemma; I always get the feeling of being adrift aboard a powerless, rudderless, boat in the deep blue sea after a book is finished (other than editing). I'm coming out of a particularly good period of writing, and I'd like nothing more than to extend it as far as possible. For the life of me, I can't make myself sit at the keyboard and create.
It's all I can do today to pen this SOS to my readers. Maybe it's Spring Fever. I know that phenomenon exists; I get it every year, but usually a lot later than this. I mean, for crying out loud, we just made it to March. My grass is a good two weeks from needing its first haircut of the season, and that's when SF generally hits hardest. And I don't mean science fiction.
I guess you can consider this a SF SOS. Before we get irretrievably lost in alphabet soup, I need to make an announcement regarding Toccata. Originally slated for an April release, it is now on schedule for a May 20th debut. I'd planned a series of blogs and other posts to lead up to its release, so that is now in a holding pattern over the runway.
That could be another reason for my hopefully transient case of the doldrums. At any rate, I'll get through this. I always do, though it is fun to have something to complain about. As I said before, my production the past four months has been very good. We've just had the mildest winter I can remember in this part of the country. My family is healthy, and I'm able once again to walk without benefit of a cane (for modest lengths), so this is the closest to a complaint I can muster. PPPM.
I'll let you figure your own way out of that little slice of alphabet rubric. Thanks for dropping by, and leave a comment if you have your own writer dilemmas. Or non-writer ones. Cheers, and happy reading.
Pat Dale