Write what you know…is a quote usually attributed to Mark Twain. Twain might have been a great American novelist, but his advice better suits authors of the 19th century. What are authors supposed to do in the 21stcentury when expected to produce two or three novels a year? As books become shorter and faster-paced, some writers are releasing books faster than that. If as a full-time professional writer you only write about subjects you’re familiar or experienced with, won’t you run out of story fodder? On a personal level, how many stories about a schoolteacher, living on the edge of Amish country, who loves gardening, animals and American history will readers tolerate? Perhaps more practical advice for this day and age would be: Write about what fascinates you, or perhaps the person you hope to one day become.
I have reached an age when retirement isn’t a distant pipedream. As much as I love Ohio, winters have grown intolerable. My husband and I are determined to live three or four months of the year in the warmer and sunnier South. Recently we’ve combined our quest for inexpensive spots to “snowbird” with my mystery series. The setting for my first story was easy…New Orleans, a city we visited while family lived in the area and many times since. After several stays in Cajun country I was playing the washboard with spoons and cooking gumbo from a roux. My second mystery allowed me to indulge my love of the blues while researching Memphis and the Mississippi delta where rice and cotton fields stretch to the horizon. Next I prowled the streets of Natchez, a charming town overlooking the mighty Mississippi, where the police captain turned out to be the nicest person I’ve ever interviewed. Then we went to beautiful, age-old Savannah for my last book in that series. Recently, (as in three days ago) we returned from our fourth trip to Charleston, South Carolina, the setting for the first of my Marked for Retribution Mysteries. What a delightful town! I’ll be sharing details as the release date for Hiding in Plain Sight draws near. (August 1st)
As we investigate places to live during the winter, I’m also discovering new spots for dead bodies to wash ashore or characters to go missing. If you’re looking for new story ideas, why not consider places you’ve always wanted to visit? Start with research at your local library and on the internet. Then create the characters of your dreams. Maybe you can give them the talents you always longed to have. Your enthusiasm will turn your story into a page-turner readers can’t put down. And just think…when you visit the area to tweak the details, your trip becomes a tax deductible expense. Sounds like a win-win situation, no?
When I think back to Christmas as a child, I remember gathering at the home of one of my aunts on Christmas Eve. We would enjoy a potluck dinner and catch up on family news—coming babies, recent graduations and other milestones. Before the families separated to attend church services, the children anxiously awaited the arrival of one special guest—Santa Claus. My uncle would dress up in full costume and arrive with great fanfare down the staircase. He carried a velvet sack filled with gifts for good girls and boys from infants through college-aged. Since I was the youngest of my generation, I was the last child who still believed in Santa Claus. When I finally discovered the truth about the man-in-red, I played along with the subterfuge for years. I didn’t want to spoil the fun for my mother and aunts. Finally when I was in the sixth grade and Santa passed out his gifts, I said, “Hi, Uncle Louie. Thanks for the gift.” My mother and aunts looked broken-hearted, but all good things must come to an end.
Looking back, I’m grateful for the joy they preserved for me because of their love. And because of God’s unending love and the gift of His son…once again I have something to believe in. Merry Christmas! May God’s blessings rain down on your family during this special season.
1 cup butter, softened (do not use margarine)
2 cups sugar
¼ cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
3 ¾ cups flour
¾ tsp. baking powder
Cream together the butter and sugar. To this mixture add the eggs, milk, and vanilla, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift together the flour and baking powder; then add the creamed mixture. Roll dough into little balls and then roll in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
Need a Christmas novella to get you in the Christmas spirit? Sarah’s Christmas Miracle is available in all electronic formats for $2.99.
And don’t forget to enter the Suspense Sisters fabulous Christmas giveaway! One winner will walk away with a gorgeous quilt, plus books, candy, Christmas items and gift cards. Winner will be drawn on Dec. 22nd. Scroll down to Dec. 1st to enter. Enter the contest by clicking this link an scrolling down at: SUSPENSE SISTERS
Happy November Readers!
Will you be having house guests for Thanksgiving this year? It’s not too early to think about a simple breakfast to enjoy while the turkey bakes.
Orange Pecan French Toast
Cover and refrigerate the following overnight –
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/3 cup butter, melted
- 2 Tbs light corn syrup
- 1/3 cup chopped pecans
- 12 slices French bread
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1 cup orange juise
- 1/2 cup milk
- 3 Tbs white sugar
- 1tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 egg whites
- 2 eggs
In a small bowl, mix brown sugar, butter and corn syrup. Pour into a greased 9×13 dish and spread evenly. Sprinkle pecans over the mixture and arrange the bread slices on top of it – in a snug single layer.
In a medium bowl, whisk the orange zest, orange juice, milk, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, egg whites and eggs. Pour over the bread, pressing to make sure the liquid is absorbed. Cover and refrigerate.
In the morning, preheat the oven to 350. Remove the cover and stand for 20 minutes.
Top with a sprinkling of pecans, and bake for 35 minutes. Mix the 1 Tbs confectioners sugar and 3 Tbs orange juice and drizzle over the toast before serving.
Hope you enjoy!!!
We’re planning another great week on the Suspense Sisters. Check out our posts, our interviews, and our awesome giveaways!
This week we’ll introduce you to a brand new Suspense Sister! We’re thrilled that Linda J. White has joined us. If you’ve never read one of her books, you’re missing out! Friday, you can learn more about Linda. Stop by and say, “Hello!” Someone will win a copy of her newest book, SNIPER! One word of warning: You’ll stay up later than you want to because it’s hard to put down!
On Wednesday Suspense Sister Mary Ellis talks about writer’s block. You’ll enjoy her article “When the Words Won’t Come….aka Writer’sBlock.” Mary’s giving away a $25.00 Amazon gift card to someone who leaves a comment on the Suspense Sister’s blog. (Don’t forget to leave your contact information or you cannot win).
Friday, you’ll get to know our new sister, Linda J. White. Someone will win a copy of her great suspense novel, SNIPER!
Shocked by the murder of a friend, FBI Special Agent Kit McGovern vows to bring the killer to justice. Then the shooter kills again, and again … and again.
Saddled with an unpredictable partner, forced to put her personal life on hold, Kit doggedly pursues the sniper. Quantico sends a geographic profiler to help identify him, but the killing of a young woman outside the probability zone casts doubt on that technique. As panic grips the Hampton Roads area, pressure mounts, and Kit soon finds herself in the crosshairs of failure—and defeat.
Mary Ellis from the The Suspense Sisters! We love books!