Closing the Door

Woman waving in a carAfter almost eight years of blogging, it’s time for the Women of Mystery to say goodbye. We’ve really enjoyed getting to know you and we hope you’ve had a good time as well. But we’re all busy with other things, and we’re not providing the kind of quality content you’re used to on a regular basis any more, so it’s time to shut down. The blog will still be here with all its old content, there just won’t be anything new. You can find us all in other haunts. Just google us!

Wishing you a wonderful 2016,
—The Women of Mystery Crew

 

New Year

The end of the year is right there ahead of us. How the heck did that happen? November, for me, was so packed with events, responsibilities and activities (some fun, some not at all) that I made it up mind to take it a single day at a time. And at the same time, I was trying to get ahead on various tasks so if anything happened to throw the schedule off….and something would…In other words, the month flew by.

And then it was December. New book, Brooklyn Secrets, launched Dec 1! Hanuka ( 2 1/2 year old granddaughter lighting candles and tearing into the wrapping paper was a sight to remember) lights

Block association cookie swap (What was I thinking? Really???) Neighborhood parties with elegant food, and one more still to go. (Baking to bring something to said parties.) tips-how-to-make-holiday-christmas-cookies_608

And I look up and here we are, December 29 as I write this. How did that ever happen?

So best wishes to all the other Women of Mystery and every reader, for great reading, great writing, great health in 2016. And if it isn’t hoping for too much,more light, more sanity, more kindness in our weary old world.

355-new-year-celebration-people-silhouettes-fireworks

When Will I Die, and Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?: Redux

Ah, yes, another oldie but goodie from the past (Sept. 2009), for your reading enjoyment; be aware these responses are from 2009, and some contain graphic wording: 

jpg_0627QUESTIONIt all started when when I wanted to use my silicone Bundt cake pan for the first time. Just before placing it in the oven, I wondered: Should I use a baking sheet to support the wobbly pan, or is this pan designed to use alone? I decided to do what anyone with a computer does: I Googled it. I intended to Google: “Should I use a baking sheet under a silicone pan?” but as soon as I typed, ”Should I,” a drop-down of popular suggestions appeared. I couldn’t ignore the juxtaposition of these responses. Some of the highlights (beware a graphic one) as they appear on Google:

“Should I…”
should i refinance my mortgage
should i stay or should i go (55.9 million results)
should i call him (85.4 million results)
should i shave my pubic hair
should i file bankruptcy
should i get a divorce

Magic 8 ballI didn’t know that Google had become a substitute for the Magic 8 ball (The Mattel Magic 8 ball, a toy used for seeking advice, was invented in 1946 by the son of a clairvoyant. You can even try an online version here).

(Concentrate and ask (Google) again….)

Typing “Should we…” in Google reveals a drop-down of the following:

“Should we….”
should we break up
should we get married (25 million results)
should weed be legal (over 45 million results)
should we have dropped the atomic bomb
should we file jointly
should we eliminate fats from our diet altogether and increase our proteins
should we move in together
should we get back together (99.9 million results)

Should I check “Does…”? (It is decidedly so.)
Does he like me (114 million results)
Does Obama smoke (over 30 million results)
Does hydroxycut/extenze/smooth away/alli work (responses condensed)
Does he love me
Does UPS delivery on Saturday
How about trying “Why”? (Without a doubt.)

“Why…”

why is the sky blue (25.2 million results)
why did the chicken cross the road
why men cheat
why did chris brown beat up rihanna
why do dogs eat poop
why did I get married (26 million results)

What kind of answers are Googlers expecting? (Reply hazy; try again.) What kind of answers are they finding? (Cannot predict now.)

I was on a roll. A peek at the results of “when,” “when will,” “how can,” and “how does”:

“When…”
whejpg_Earth-from-spacen is the superbowl
when will i die (893 million results)
when i grow up
when will the world end (176 million results)

“When will….”
when will i get my tax refund
when will the recession end

 

when will the economy get better
when will i get married (30.7 million results)

“How can…”
how can you tell if a guy likes you
how can i make my hair grow faster
how can you tell if a girl likes you
how can i get pregnant
how can you tell if a girl is a virgin
how can you tell if someone is lying (over 9.2 million results)

This is like eating potato chips…

“How does…”
how does a bill become a law (173 million results)
how does birth control work
how does david blaine levitate
how does google make money
how does unemployment work
Questions surrounding finances, birth control, the end of life, relationships, and hair growth seem to be of utmost concern for so many inquiring minds. I thought the popular question about how a bill becomes law was promising.

Is anyone finding meaningful answers to such major life decisions online? (Cannot predict now.) Will Googlers stop asking such questions? (Very doubtful….)

Just one more? (Yes, definitely.)
“Can I…”
can I has cheeseburger
can I have your number
can I get pregnant on my period
can I afford a house

Oh ~ and the answer to my question about silicone bakeware? A baking sheet is recommended to stabilize. The chocolate cake came out just great!

***

Follow me on Twitter @katcop13

Handwritten Letters: Redux

I wanted to re-post my first post when I joined Women of Mystery in 2009. It remains one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy it!DSCN1543-1

It’s truly an honor and a privilege to be joining my fellow “Sisters in Crime” on the Women of Mystery blog. My heartfelt gratitude to the talented writers for inviting me along; I’m thrilled to be here.

Nearing the first anniversary of the death of their only son, I wrote a letter to a former coworker and his wife. A handwritten letter, not a typed one. I lost my 37 year old brother in 2001, and I know how it feels when anniversaries approach, especially that first one. The man who lost his talented clarinetist son in a tragic car ajpg_pancilhand-2ccident called me to say how touched they were. “No one writes handwritten letters anymore,” he said.

Afterward, I thought about some of the handwritten letters of my past.

In Mrs. Luciano’s fourth grade class at St. Patrick’s School in Huntington in 1970, we wrote letters to soldiers in Vietnam. Two soldiers responded, and I will never part with those letters.

jpg_correspondenceDuring my teen years, I had as many as fifty pen pals. I remember the most letters I ever received in one day — fourteen. Most of my pen pals were fellow Osmond Brothers fans. Kindred spirits find a way to be together, I guess. Besides, what kid doesn’t like to receive mail?

In the late 1970s, I chose “Ethnic Studies” as one of my electives at Huntington High School, specifically for the long-term project: a family tree. Upon learning that my mom knew little of her Irish roots, she suggested that I write to her Aunt Mary.jpg_tree-of-life-and-love

Aunt Mary’s five-page response sparked a flame that’s been burning for over two decades. Genealogy became a passion for me, as well as my mom and my Uncle Jimmy. Our obsession has taken us to Ireland, Pennsylvania, and New York City; to libraries, cemeteries, and genealogy research centers — and to think it all started with a letter. It’s amazing how much we still glean from Aunt Mary’s letter.

In 1979, I wrote a letter to Andy Gibb asking him to take me to my prom. I never heard back; I guess he just didn’t want to be my everything.

My mom wrote to her Aunt Gert in 1980 in search of family photos. Aunt Gert wrote back to say that she had packed the photos away, “in a rare fit of domestic activity,” and wasn’t sure where they were.

Gert remarked, “I know one of these days they’ll come to light (like the Dead Sea Scrolls, Tut-Ank-Amen’s Tomb, Veronica’s Veil and Howard Hughes’ will), but at the moment I think it would take the combined efforts of the FBI, Scotland Yard and Interpol to give me the faintest clue. I know the day will come when suddenly my hand will touch a crumbling cardboard box and upon opening it and seeing the contents, I’ll stagger back and shriek, ‘Eureka!’, rush to the phone and dial your number and say, ‘It’s all yours, baby, come and get it.’ Until then, darling, bear with me, I beseech you.”

She could have written, “I’m not sure where they are, but when I find them, I’ll let you know,” but I’m so glad she didn’t. Aunt Gert’s letter is a gem.

Do you still write handwritten letters? Are there certain letters from your past that you won’t part with? Is it a lost art?
***
Follow me on Twitter @katcop13

Writing Inspiration

I had no idea how important other writers would be to me when I began my journey as a mystery writer. At one point, I almost gave up writing my first mystery, Murder at the P&Z. But then I went to a meeting of Sisters-in-Crime, the Tri-State, New York City Chapter. By the time I left, no doubt dwelled in my mind about the book, I couldn’t wait to finish it.

What made the difference? The energy in the room from all the other writers who were in all stages of making their dreams come true, including those who had published series of books to those budding authors. Then we went out to dinner and the supportive conversation continued.

I was with kindred spirits. And so too, being a contributing writer for Women of Mystery.Net. It also fed my author’s spirit and gave me a means of communicating with other writers, and a platform to introduce my new books to readers.

Now I’m working on my third book in the Carol Rossi Mystery Series, the first two published by Mainly Murder Press. Although writing is an isolating venture, we don’t do this alone. We have our beta readers, our writing groups, our blogs, our editors, our publishers, our wonderful libraries who also serve as a platform for our new releases.

At a time when we give thanks for our blessings, I’d like to give mine to all the above.

 

 

Joeseph Finder’s Tips for Writers

I recently had the pleasure of attending a lecture at The Center for Fiction given
by Joseph Finder, The New York Times Best Selling Author. He shared his story
—a fascinating one—of how he went from working for the CIA to writing thrillers.

51e-V7ZwpwL._AA160_He also shared his10 Tips for Writers from which he believes every writer can benefit. Here’s a summary:

1. Rejection can be useful. It can prompt you to do more work and get it to the right      editor.
2.   Be stubborn but be smart about it and be persistent.
3.  Learn to value criticism. It can give you good feedback.
4.  The best fiction is about character, not plot. The plot should arise from the character.
5.   Avoid backstory dump. It takes people out of the story.
6.   Every scene should do some work Ask yourself why is it there.
7.   Reveal. Surprise. Cut out the slow parts.
8.   Never underestimate your readers. Surprise them rather than fool them.
9.   Just write the book. Don’t get hung up in the prose or the words.

10. Get lucky. Hopefully get in front of the right people at the right time.

I’ve read several of Joe’s books and have enjoyed them all very much. His last thriller, THE FIXER, a stand alone, certainly proves he takes his own advice.

How about you? What, if any, rules do you apply to your writing? We’d love to know.

Inquiry and Assistance

I am delighted to let you know that my short story “Inquiry and Assistance” can be found in the January/February 2016 issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, in which we also celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the magazine.

Here is the celebratory cover and look who, among others, has her name on the cake.

AHMM1_2016

Stop on by and get a look at Depression-era New York through the eyes of  one of my favorite characters Tommy Flood.

Special thanks to Clare Toohey who encouraged me to write this particular story.

Terrie

Sunday Sentence

I’m participating in David Abrams’ project, Sunday Sentence, from his blog, The Quivering Pen, in which, “Simply put, the best sentence(s) I’ve read this past week, presented out of context and without commentary.”

jpg_bridge300“After three days in the wilderness, he had rotated the tires, mended three water mattresses, built a bridge, filled eight snow-control barrels with cinders, and devised a sophisticated system to de-sand everyone before they entered the tent.”jpg_tent0001

Do you recognize the writing of Erma Bombeck? It’s from If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What am I Doing in the Pits?.

Speaking of the beloved writer, Erma Bombeck, I am thrilled to be attending the sold-out Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop in Dayton, Ohio, on the campus of Erma’s alma mater, the University of Dayton, from March 31-April 2, 2016. I’ll be joining writers from 35 states, a couple of Canadian provinces, and Madrid, Spain. You can follow the Bombeck Workshop on Twitter @ebww.

How about you? Read any fun or intriguing sentences this week? Do share!

Follow me on Twitter @katcop13