Nancy: Copenhagen (and Denmark) Blues

Black Diamond on the Water. This extension of the Royal Danish Library opened in 1999. It plays a key role in Nick’s story.

As you no doubt gleaned from last week’s post, I’ve recently been an intrepid world traveler. Well, OK, I traveled to one other country, but I crossed six time zones and spent three days on each end of the trip battling severe jet lag, so it feels like it’s been quite a trek, and I’m happy to be home safe and sound and finally getting back on east coast time.

Because you can take the writer out of her cave but you can’t take the cave out of the writer, or something like that, I spent some of my three weeks in Denmark being a tall, dark, and handsome, thirty-year-old, half-American/half-Danish, mixed-race man. In my head, of course. (I might be able to pull off a lot of things, but tall and thirty are not on that list). I’m talking, of course, about my fictional character Nicholai* Jens Olesen, Nicky O to his American friends. This was my first trip to the country since I’d conceived of the Copenhagen-set mystery series, so I did my best to view it from Nick’s eyes. In addition to helping me solidify my vision of what Denmark means to this character, it also revealed important things about the character himself.

A Few Things About Nick

A Very Danish House with Thatched Roof. This is the kind of house where Nick probably spent some of his summers.

He’s much more American than Danish. Technically, as his (now deceased) father was a Danish citizen and his mother is American, I think he can still claim Danish citizenship (but it’s complicated, so more research required!). As a child, he spent a couple of months every summer and some additional weeks most Christmas vacations in DK, has visited frequently as an adult, and did some of his graduate work in the country, so he definitely has a foot securely planted in this culture. But the majority of his time has been spent in America, and when he’s placed in that character crucible and pressure is applied, his American mind-set and life approach is going to show, for better or for worse.

After his father’s death, his visits to the country will never be the same. Sadly, because of our age and the extent of my husband’s family that lives in Denmark (that’s everyone related to him except his parents, siblings, our daughter and I), every time we’ve traveled to Denmark, there are relatives we’ve lost since the previous trip. It’s especially noticeable when we cross off towns where we used to go from our must-visit list, because the loved ones we used to see there are gone. As Nick’s story begins with him being in Denmark for his father’s funeral, there are going to be lots of opportunities for him to be haunted and heartbroken by memories triggered from seeing old, familiar places. This is an important part of character development I have to keep in mind when I start the deep-dive into Nick’s soul.

A Few Things About Denmark That Impact Nick’s Story… Continue reading

Nancy: International Woman of Mystery

At the time this post hits the internet, I’ll be off on an adventure in a far (from me) city, soaking up local culture and doing serious research for a long-promised future series. I’ll give you more details about my trip next week, but for now thought I’d share a few pictures, interspersed throughout this post, that might give you a clue about where I am and what I’m researching.

If you can’t figure out my travel destination from the pictures, maybe this scene, which appeared on the blog a long time ago and might or might not end up in book 1 of that future series, will provide another hint. Happy reading, and I’ll be back next week to tell you all about my travels and the stories they’ve inspired!

Murder Clues

When I slid into the passenger’s seat of Pernilla’s tiny black Puegot a little after nine that night, she didn’t spare me a glance or a word. Just floored the gas pedal and sent us zooming down the side streets of Vesterbro before I could even click my seatbelt into place. I took her dark mood to mean she’d neither forgiven nor forgotten the sins I’d committed against her over the past 72 hours. Continue reading

Michille: Romance Story Ideas

 

amazingstorygeneratorCreativity has abandoned me. I hope it’s temporary. I googled ‘romance writing prompts’ to jump start my creative mind and got some interesting results.

The Write Practice. 20 Romance Story Ideas.
These are interesting and a little twisty with a gender-bender thrown in. A cop and a jewelry store owner who it tripping his alarm on purpose. Humans and aliens communicating through a plant. There is only one tried and true – the hero who has sworn off love falls for the spunky rookie with a joie de vivre. Continue reading

Michille: A New Approach

HeronI am contemplating taking a new approach to my writing. I have a four-book series that I’ve been working on. I go to conferences and workshops and take online courses and I get excited about the revisions that are needed. And then I sit down to do them, start working through the list of what needs done and I get so overwhelmed that I just quit. In order to do A, I have to stop and hit D, L, Q, and P, and then come back to A. Repeat, repeat, repeat. And I stop.

In order to get my writing mojo back, my new approach is going to be starting a whole new story. The picture is a Great Blue Heron that I see when I hike at a park near my house. It’s my spirit animal so I’m keeping it close for motivation. Part of my motivation for this new approach is that I believe I am a good writer. I read. A lot. And most of what I read is crap, has crappy elements, or has my pet peeves sprinkled throughout. I’m going to write a book that I would like to read. My starting point is a list of what the story will have and a list of what it won’t. Continue reading

Jilly: Did You Watch the Royal Wedding? Why?

I’m writing this post on Saturday morning. I plan to be finished around 11.30am UK time. Then I’ll grab a cup of coffee, fire up the BBC’s live streaming and watch Meghan Markle marry Prince Harry and become Duchess of Sussex.

According to the BBC television commentators, the global audience for Harry and Meghan’s happy day may be more than a billion people.

A billion? Why? Continue reading

Michille: Procrastibaking

procrastibakeI’ve written about procrastination before, but I stumbled on a New York Times article: Why Work When You Can Procrastibake? I do this on a fairly regular basis but I never knew it had a name. In fact, my husband, a college professor, is getting his second teaching award in 4 years and he firmly believes it’s because he feeds his kids the baked good that I procrastibake.

Julia Moskin defines procrastibaking as the practice of baking something completely unnecessary, with the intention of avoiding “real” work and believes it to be a surprisingly common habit. Apparently, not all procrastibakers bake alike. Some make long, slow recipes that break up the entire day, returning to their work in between steps. Others whip up something quick to attempt to get the creative juices flowing. One person quoted in the article makes macarons because they can take several days. Jeez, I don’t kid myself with something that complicated. I usually do cookies, cakes, or brownies.

Procrastibaking is a thriving hashtag on Instagram so of course, I had to break and check Instagram. And it’s true. But, it’s not all good. Tim Pychyl, a professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, says that procrastination is one of few situations in which people consistently make choices that are demonstrably bad. So I guess I can’t pass it off as being creative.

There was a quote from a romance writer, Mia Hopkins: “When I was schoolteacher, I used to procrastinate by reading and writing romances,” she said. “When I started writing romance full time, I had to find a new way to procrastinate.” Gotta love that.

What is your procrati-_________? Procratibaking, procrasticleaning, procrastisurfing (I’m also guilty of this)?

Michaeline: Money and Writing

She seems to have made art and commerce mix, but I’m not sure I can. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

This week, I ran across an article on Medium about how writers’ rates haven’t kept up with inflation at all. The writer mentioned that in Ring Lardner’s heyday, $1 a word was a fabulous rate. (Ring Lardner was a contemporary of Dorothy Parker and Ernest Hemingway – so we’re talking the 1920s and 1930s, when the New Yorker magazine was in its infancy.)

I would link you, but Medium only gives a person three freebies, and then you start paying. Sorry, blog audience, but I’m saving my two remaining freebies for something new, so I can’t go back and check the facts.

And that totally outlines a few of the many problems of combining money and writing.

The readers like getting freebies, and will pay if the quality is good, but not too much. The publishers feel perpetually pinched, and are constantly scrambling to make up the revenue somewhere. Writers get stuck somewhere in the middle, trying to make a living. Traditionally, ads have been a way for print journalism to make up the difference, but then the print journalists are beholden to advertisers.

I remember in the 80s when some romance publishers began sticking advertisements in the middle of their category romances. Often, the ads were for more romance books. These were very safe and effective bets, and are the best kind of advertising: readers want to know where to get more, and publishers want to provide that service. But I think some of the advertisements were for cigarettes and other non-book items, and it was distinctly jarring to come across one in the midst of a passionate love scene. The end of page 103 would go, “He gently stroked her silken thigh, coming closer and –” INSERT Continue reading