For Jerry Healy: Service Dogs for Wounded Veterans

From Brendan DuBois:

I’m *so* very pleased to announce that through the efforts, suggestions and recommendations of Sandra Balzo, Andi Malala Shechter, S.J. Rozan and her terrific sister, Deborah B. Rosan, that a means of commemorating Jeremiah Healy’s works and life has been established.

Besides his work as an attorney and an author, Jerry was a U.S. Army vet, and was also a lover of dogs. We have therefore reached out to a service dog organization in Maryland that trains dogs to assist wounded veterans, and they will be thrilled to receive donations in Jerry’s name.

The group is called Hero Dogs, and is based in Maryland. Their website is here. They are an IRS approved 501(c)(3) organization and operate entirely on donations. You can donate via their website, or by sending a check to Hero Dogs, P.O. 64, Brookeville, MD 20833-0064. But *please* ensure either by writing on the memo section of your check, or using the form on their website, that you’re making this donation in Jerry’s name.

That way, Hero Dogs can track how many donations come in, so that they can be used in some way to keep Jerry’s memory alive in years to come.

Please donate what you can, and please share this link. Thanks to all of you who were friends or fans of Jerry’s.

Terrie here: I don’t know of any fledgling writer who ever spoke to Jerry Healy for as little as ten minutes (although it was hard to have that short a conversation with Jerry) who didn’t come a way with some great advice, solid support and an invitation to get in touch anytime. He was a mentor to all the newbies and a friend to everyone he met.

He will long be remembered.

Terrie

One Author’s Attempt to Create an Online Presence

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Three years ago, I took a sabbatical from my teaching position at a local community college. I’d been teaching business classes for ten years at the time, and while I had been holding a piece of chalk, this thing called the Internet had been invented. It appeared I was hopelessly out of the loop.

With my sabbatical approved, I applied for an internship at an internet-based company. Imagine the hiring manager’s surprise when I showed up for the interview. If you haven’t guessed, I’m not a college co-ed. Whether it was pity or simply shock, I’ll never know, but I did get the job.

I’m happy to report that I caught on as fast as expected for a 40-something technical Luddite. On my first day, my boss recommended the quick read, Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media and Blogs, by Halligan & Shah. I read the book in one sitting and was immediately intrigued by blogging and its marketing power.

I decided the best way to jump into the blogosphere was to pick a topic where I had some expertise — because that’s exactly what Halligan & Shah recommend in their book! As the theory goes, blogging about your product is essentially an ad, and no one wants to read an ad. Instead, the authors recommend creating an Internet presence that showcases your expertise. This expertise, if genuine, will quickly build credibility in your industry.

Here’s what I know – a college classroom. So in May 2012, I launched my college blog (www.deirdreverne.com/blog) where I post all the crazy things I’m thinking but not saying to students in class.

Do I know you’re cheating? Do I care what you’re wearing? Does your incessant texting bug me? Can I be bribed? For two and half years, I’ve been posting regularly, and I love it. I’m not sure this makes me an expert in anything but annoying the administration at my college. I have, however, learned a tremendous amount from the process.

From a teaching perspective, my blog has helped me connect with my students on a more personal basis. As a writer, it’s allowed me to exercise my voice. It’s also forced me to build an online network of Internet experts. I’ve met web designers, search engine gurus, copy editors and freelance photographers. As my virtual network has grown, I’ve started to feel more comfortable creating and managing my online presence.

Then of course, I got a book deal. Now it appears my Internet dabbling has become a business necessity. Yet another challenge! How to translate what I’ve learned into building an audience of mystery readers?

In my next post, I’ll talk about my effort to create an online presence without the aid of an expensive ad agency. I’m hoping you can pitch in and give me some advice as I am far from an expert on this topic.

Drawing Conclusions

Lascaux Review, Submission Reminder

lascaux-newsite5-browndropThe Lascaux Review, a showcase for emerging and established writers and artists has announced a call for submissions for its short fiction contests, The Lascaux Prize in Short Fiction. Submissions opened October 1st for previously published or unpublished stories. Prize of $1,000 to the winner. The winner and the finalists will appear in the 2015 Lascaux Prize Anthology. Deadline is December 31st.

Also, the are still accepting manuscripts for the Christine E. Eldin Memorial Fellowship, an inaugural contest for unpublished middle-grade fiction which opened for submissions on September 1st. Prize of $1,000. Deadline for submissions is December 31st.

For more information and complete details on all the contests, click onto The Lascaux Review.com/contests

Ebola Outbreak, Life Imitating Art

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This is why we write, okay, one of the reasons we write.

Outbreak, the 1995 movie, smacked of truth. The fear of pandemics, the mutated viruses resistant to antibiotics from overuse, in particular, in intensive animal farming, for years we’ve heard and read about these medical concerns.

With the recent Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, which is spreading at an unprecedented rate, one of the authors, either Laurence Dworet or Robert Roy Pool, was interviewed stating this was exactly what they had in mind when they wrote the story.

In Outbreak, a fictional Ebola-like virus called Motaba, outbreaks in Zaire and later in a small town in California. Sound familiar?

With regards to the real outbreak, researches say “The genomic sequencing also offers hints as to how the Ebola “Zaire” strain at the heart of the current outbreak — one of five types of Ebola virus known to infect humans — likely ended up in West Africa in the first place. Researchers said the data suggests that the virus spread from an animal host, possibly bats, and that diverged around 2004 from an Ebola strain in central Africa, where previous outbreaks have occurred. The New York Times, September 28, 2014.

Of course the movie veers into a sinister plot, but Its primary settings are government disease control centers and the CDC. We’ve had our share of mis-steps by the CDC and the Texas hospital.

When we write, we reflect the human condition, and/or foretell the future. The nearly two decade old movie, Outbreak, is a great example of both.

 

 

 

 

Virgil’s Working on Deadline

Deadline by John Sandford is the eighth Virgil Flowers novel, and the quirky detective continues to put the pieces of some truly challenging jigsaw puzzles together. What sets these books apart is Sandford’s trademark humor and interesting police procedures.

51o81BLmPEL._AA160_Virgil is visiting his old friend, Johnson Johnson, who asks a huge favor of the BCA agent. Some scoundrel in the town of Trippton is kidnapping dogs. Though this hardly seems like a case for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Virgil starts investigating with the hope of avoiding trouble from the gun-toting citizens who are searching for their prized hunting dogs and valued pets.

In the midst of this curious investigation (and it is a strange one), Virgil is called in to check out the random murder of a local reporter. Like most of Virgil’s cases, the murder is the tiny tip of an iceberg. Much of what he needs is hidden well below the surface.

I feel Sandford scored another winner with this one. There was lots of humor, some good fight scenes, and an interesting case study. We know who the bad guys are, but it’s interesting to watch Virgil struggle to bring all the pieces of the whole together.

There’s a lot of hillbilly lingo and local slang in this one, but Sanford handled it well. It’s a small town, with small-town problems, and small-town people who think they can get away with, among other things, murder. As always, it has the perfect recipes: secrets, lies, and family squabbles.

Check out Deadline, especially if you’re a dog lover!.

Story Writing from an Expert

On August 7, I posted a blog here about writing short stories. No big secrets about how to do it –if only! – just my musings about how I couldn’t do it at all, and then I could. Now Sisters in Crime-NY has published the brand new anthology, Family Matters, edited by Anita Page. The older two were reissued with spiffy new covers thanks to new publisher, Glenmere Press and Lois Karlin.

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So, when the chapter had a meeting with SJ Rozan speaking on the topic of short story writing, there was a lot of interest. A lot. We had a packed house last night.

SJ Rozan has won just about all the mystery world awards, including an Edgar for best Novel AND an Edgar for best short story. She is a genuine expert, though I doubt she would say so. Myself, I’ve heard her speak before and know it will always be interesting and always be fun.
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She read us a recent very short story and took us behind the curtain to see how she made it work in such a constrained structure.

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Some takeaways: short stories are an opportunity to experiment with style. They are also an opportunity to work on getting every word exactly right. They should be like a liquor store robbery- get in and get out, fast. (She added that a book more resembles a long con, which may or may not work) The focus for a story is on the reader. How will it appear/ affect/ intrigue that person? The limitations of form and, often, topic, provide excellent exercises for our writing chops.

Personal note: “Eldercare,” my story in Family Matters, is decidedly creepy for me. Yes, it was a good exercise to change up my whole approach.

She talked a little about the practical side of writing stories, pointing out that there is a lively market. She had a few useful tips, the first being one of the oldest for any writer: know your audience. In other words, don’t send the cute cat story to Akashic, where they love noir! She recommended introducing yourself, without pitching, to anthology and magazine editors at mystery events. While they may not remember you, it gives you a little hook to contact them later. Ah. Calculating but in a good way.

And then we did a mini-workshop. Ten random words from the audience, and write a short story using all of them, right there, right now. So we tried. Some used all the words but didn’t quite get to the end, the payoff, of the story. That would include me. But I surprised myself by maybe getting the beginning of a real story. Some actually wrote a complete short-short on the spot, maybe using all the words, maybe not. Everyone learned something from the exercise.

In the Q & A, SJ told us she always has the end of the story in mind, which is not true for her books, but admitted she does not always know how to get there. It was encouraging to hear that even an expert has trouble with the evil middle! And one more piece of advice to remember: don’t write what you know; write what you want to know.

A Lot About Sam McCain and A Little About Terrie Moran

My life is fluctuating rapidly between family issues and some personal medical tests and treatments this month, so technically I am not supposed to be posting, BUT, I had to stop by to tell you that one of the great advantages of medical issues is that in between stupid stuff, there is an occasional  chance to read. So when issue Number 136 of Mystery Scene Magazine  showed up in my mailbox on Saturday, I was ecstatic when I saw one of the cover articles was titled “Small Town Hero: Ed Gorman’s Sam McCain novels.” Now everyone knows I love Sam McCain. I talked about the latest and final *sob* *sob* Sam McCain novel, Riders on the Storm over on Criminal Element a few weeks ago.  So I couldn’t wait to read the fabulous article by Tom Nolan in which he talked about mystery readers’ introduction to Sam in The Day the Music Died (1999) right up to this month’s publication of Riders on the Storm.

cover_LizardsArdent_525wAfter reading Tom Nolan’s article twice, I turned to the place I usually start reading, the short story review section written by Bill Crider. I read along enjoying Bill’s take on some excellent collections and anthologies. Then I saw a cover picture of The Lizard’s Ardent Uniform, the anthology David Cranmer put together to honor his nephew Kyle J. Knapp. And without blushing I print here exactly what Bill Crider wrote:

And speaking of out of the ordinary, the award for strangest title goes to The Lizard’s Ardent Uniform, edited by David Cranmer, who explains the book’s origin and purpose in his introduction. The stories are a mixture of crime, noir, and the “new weird.”  Terrie Farley Moran’s excellent dark crime story, “Dust to Dust,” is reason enough to buy the book, but all the other stories are fine and strange.

So, pardon me if I smile.

Terrie

Novel Night: A Benefit for the Hoboken Public Library

Next Saturday evening, I’ve been invited to be one of the guests of honor at a dinner for Novel Night, a fund raising benefit to support the Hoboken Public Library.

My Host, Susan Moore, filled me in on the particulars of the event. Novel Night, which occurs every other year, with Novella Night in intervening years, is conducted by a group of hosts—this year 21 people—who open their homes to offer a book-themed dinner to raise funds for the library. Each host invites 10 people who contribute to the library fund and get to meet an author whose book is being highlighted. This year, Susan, who is planning an Italian dinner, graciously invited me to participate and to discuss my first novel, Telling Lies, which features Florence, Italy in many chapters.telling_lies

Novel Night has brought in between 20 and 25 thousand dollars at each event. Originally, the goal was to raise funds for the preservation of the library’s historical collection, but that has moved to providing funds for particular projects related to the historic renovation of the library. Recent funds will be providing for the installation of an historically appropriate door for the building.

Susan also mentioned that the concept has been adopted by other towns in New Jersey, including Ridgewood where Novel Night raised over $50,000 for their project last year. It might be an idea that your local library could benefit from.

Finding Inspiration

Meeting creative and humorous writers on this site and others is a joy, but also a must. On LinkedIn’s group, Crime Fiction, I have the pleasure of joking around with other writers as nutty as myself. The good natured ribbing brightens my otherwise isolated day, since I work at home. Crime Fiction has several threads going at the one time on a given aspect of writing generally being about a new book, and new ideas before they become books.

On-line chats are great, but sometimes, I need an infusion of creative energy in real life. As a member of Sister-in-Crime and Mystery Writers of America, I go to meetings. The dynamic women at SinC meetings are in various stages of creation.

When I leave for home, I’m full of positive energy and with two feet jump back into the project. My first mystery, which I was ready to drop, came back to life after a meeting and I wondered how I could ever doubt myself.

Several mystery book sites send emails on a regular basis. I visit and comment on book reviews and the author interviews. Goodreads friends, also, discuss new books.

I’d love to add to my list more sites designed for readers, such as Criminal Element. com. with the hopes of getting my books into their hands.

What sites do you visit? And why?

 

Finding Your Writing Nook

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Every book written on how to get published includes a section on “making space” to write. If you’re lucky, you’ve got a spare room or an office you can call your own. If you’re like me, you may be relegated to a corner of a room. In my case, my writing corner was also being used to fold laundry, wrap presents and hem the occasional pant leg.

In a cleaning frenzy fit this past summer, I tried to reclaim my corner. The draft of the second book in my Sketch In Crime series, featuring CeCe Prentice, an eco-friendly, sketch artist, needed a permanent home.

I bought a plastic bin, tossed in the loose laundry and banished it to the hall. At a family meeting, I announced that I would no longer fold socks. My sewing machine went back in its case and piles of bows and tape found their way to the basement. While in the basement, I rescued a lovely antique oak table and dragged it upstairs. All it took was a light sanding and a dollop of antique oil, and I had a new desk. Yeah for me!

So about that desk? I’ve never used it. I have discovered, however, that it’s great for folding laundry. I’ve come to realize that my writer’s nook is anywhere I can craft a sentence. Right now I’m in my living room, but I’ve got my eye on my porch for my next stop. There’s a cozy wicker chair and just the right amount of light.

Time to move on.

.Drawing Conclusions