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!
Today Home Thoughts welcomes Susan Page Davis, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing.
MZ: If you had to describe yourself in one sentence, what would you say?
SPD: I’m an ordinary person who tells stories.
What do you do when you’re not writing? Any interesting hobbies?
SPD: I enjoy reading, solving logic problems and codes, genealogy and embroidery. One of my favorite activities is doing things with my family—it doesn’t matter what we do, as long as we’re together.
What was your favorite book as a teen or child?
SPD: So many to choose from! As a child, I loved the Miss Pickerel books by Ellen MacGregor. As a teenager, one favorite was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith.
Tell us three things about yourself that might surprise your readers.
SPD: I’m a horrible cook. I know how to shoe horses, but I haven’t done it for forty years. I am a book magnet, and books come to me, but I have an awful time trying to get rid of any.
What genre did you start out writing? Have you changed course? Why or why not?
SPD: The first books I wrote were romantic suspense, but my first published books were historical romance. I still write both, and cozy mysteries. I love variety. I don’t get bored that way.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
SPD: The worst criticism is when a reader doesn’t feel I’ve done the job well—haven’t finished the story, or haven’t made them believe it could happen that way. The greatest compliment is when the reader says she feels as though my characters are her family.
Any other genres you’d like to try? If yes, what and why?
SPD: Well, I’ve done a lot of genres—from fantasy (Feather) to military suspense (Frasier Island), with lots of romance, historicals, mysteries, and romantic suspense. I have a horse story (Sarah’s Long Ride) for middle-grade kids. I’m the sort of writer that, if it occurs to me, I write it. So, no, I don’t think there’s any other type of book I’m longing to write.
If you could go back in time and do something differently at the start of your career, what would it be?
SPD: I would start writing fiction seriously much sooner, and I would connect with other authors sooner.
What is the most important piece of advice you’d like to give to unpublished authors?
SPD: Get a good edit before you submit your work, whether to a traditional publisher or to be self-published.
Here is a summary of The House Next Door:
The charming stone house next door is for sale! How could there be a downside to that? As his wife Jennifer’s due date approaches, Captain Harvey Larson decides to invest in real estate, unaware of the terror this will cause his family. The neighboring house seems ideal for Jennifer’s brother Jeff and his wife. A hidden cupboard isn’t so bad—in fact, it’s almost fun to try to solve the little mystery inside it. But will any of their loved ones want to live next door after they learn what’s in the basement? The men of the Priority Unit might be wasting their time, trying to prove one dead man killed another. Or is the murderer still alive, and ready to strike again?
Susan Page Davis is the author of more than 70 novels and novels. A Maine native, she now lives in western Kentucky. She’s a two-time winner of the Will Rogers Medallion and the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Contest and a Carol Award winner.
Find Susan at: Website: www.susanpagedavis.com
Sign up for Susan’s occasional newsletter at https://madmimi.com/signups/118177/join
Find The House Next door at: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074P3BBHJ/ref=series_rw_dp_sw
Have a great week of reading, readers ~ Mary Ellis