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Posts Tagged ‘Mystery’

Murder on Marawa Prime, my science fiction murder mystery, was reviewed in Analog, December 2016 issue, in “The Reference Library” column by Don Sakers.

First, my thanks to Don for taking the time to read, then review my novelette. Nowadays, there are so many science fiction books released each year, that it’s hard to catch the eye of a well-known reviewer – much less have a good review published in one of the grand old magazines of science fiction, Analog.

So what did Don think? Here’s an excerpt: “Murder on Marawa Prime is a SF story and a noir mystery, set on a fascinating and well-drawn planet, all packed into a novelette that will leave you wanting more… The story’s tightly plotted, and author Crist does an excellent job of keeping multiple balls in the air while revealing the unique and deadly secrets that have brought murder to Marawa Prime.” – Don Sakers

Murder_Cover_CS_front Woot! This fabulous review adds to the positive comments (used on the front and back covers of the book) from several authors whose writing I admire:

“Inventive and entertaining – a real thrill-ride!” – Gail Z. Martin author of The Ascendent Kingdoms Saga and The Chronicles of the Necromancer series.

“Vonnie Crist serves up some deliciously dangerous interstellar noir in Murder on Marawa Prime. One part Raymond Chandler, one part Agatha Christie, and a huge dose of her own exceptionally clean prose and understated worldbuilding, this is a fast-moving nail-biter on a planet at once iconic and alien. Just one word of warning: don’t aggravate the geneered singing opossum.” – Charles E. Gannon, author of The Tales of the Terran Republic series.

“A fast-paced story of assassins, genetic engineering, singing opossums and betrayal, Vonnie Winslow Crist writes the future fantastic.” – Deborah Walker (also writes as Kelda Crich)

Interested in taking a look at Murder on Marawa Prime? You can find links to various formats on Pole to Pole Publishing’s website: http://poletopolepublishing.com/books/murder-on-marawa-prime/

 

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IMG_1821 Today is Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday. Born on January 19, 1809, Edgar lived only 40 years, but his impact on writing has lasted much longer.

Many of today’s writers of dark fantasy, horror, and detective stories can trace their genre’s roots back to Poe. And arguably, even science fiction short stories can find a rootlet embedded in one of his tales.

I, too, have always been a fan of Poe’s wonderfully fantastical tales and lyric poetry. So it is with admiration that I say, “Happy Birthday, Edgar Allan Poe!”

For those who want to learn more, here’s a link to more information on this American writer.

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I often write in my bio to be used at the end of a story or the back of an anthology or book which contains my writing that I believe the world is still filled with mystery, magic, and miracles. And I do still believe. But I think the number of us who still listen to the voices of the cicada and crickets in September as they foretell the arrival of autumn is growing smaller.

When the first star appears in the dusky sky, less and less of us make a wish. When salt spills, fewer and fewer of us toss a few grains over our left shoulder into the devil’s eye. And I don’t know many other people who still make sure they put their right shoe on first in the morning so they’ll have a good day.

The magic which permeated our lives and world is slowly vanishing. Perhaps it’s because many people don’t believe any more. Perhaps it’s because the hum of air conditioners and thrum of automobile’s have made it too hard for us to hear the whispers of fairies in the garden.

I’ve heard the term, Granny Witch, used to describe women who dabbled in herb-craft, storytelling, and maybe a bit of dousing. The women who say a prayer or make a wish for good health as they knit a blanket for a baby. The girls who add not just sugar and flour, but blessings, to every cake they bake.

I suppose as a teller of stories, a grower of herbs, a star-wisher, cloverhand, and knitter & crocheter of special gifts, I qualify as a Granny Witch. and I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.

Here’s the link for a fabulous essay on Granny Witches at Appalachian Ink, the blog of writer Anna Wess.

 

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Thanks to speculative author Phoebe Wray for stopping by and sharing her journey as she steps into the unfamiliar shoes of a mystery writer.

Writing My First Mystery-Thriller by Phoebe Wray

WRAY INFORMAL HEADSHOT “In Adam’s Fall, a mystery-thriller just released from Wolfsinger Publishing, is my first attempt at this genre. I’ve been writing futurist-dystopian action-adventure novels and stories for the last six years (pardon the plethora of hyphens) usually classed as science fiction. I had this itch of a story that kept interrupting my thoughts. I wanted to explore what happens in an ordinary, pleasant, small town when the curse of our times – bigotry, racial profiling, and senseless violence — interrupts the birdsong.

I wasn’t sure I could write a mystery. Didn’t it have to have red herrings, complicated villains, and a plot full of twists and turns? Well, yes, but so does science fiction. Police procedure? Again yes, at least some. I had taken an online course on that years ago, and dug out my notes. They weren’t very helpful. I decided to just write the story and then figure out what it was.

Someone murders a beautiful young Muslim woman and leaves the body next to the dumpster in Nikki, my heroine’s, back yard. She stumbles over it early in the morning on a beautiful April day. That’s the start of the sled-ride it becomes.

I worked for many years as a journalist and reporter and the old newspaper mantra is drummed into my brain: Who? What? When? Where? Why? And sometimes, “How?” In this case, mostly “why?” That litany was useful for a mystery. Above all, I believe a mystery-thriller has to make sense, the pieces must finally come together with some logic, even if that logic is hateful.

IAFCover In this novel, the anger, the madness, in the killer escalates, not just with gun violence, but with his hateful racist messages. The bad guy has the severe case of tunnel vision that racists possess and because Nikki is a history teacher with old New England roots, he believes she will agree with his anti-Arab, “take back America” rhetoric. When she doesn’t, he focuses on her, stalking her and attacking the town itself. He sets fire to the local church, sprays racist graffiti on the school, takes pot-shots at the FBI, his acts more random and finally deadly.

In a sense, In Adam’s Fall is a stalking novel but its themes and ideas reflect what we hear on every o’clock news. How do we understand those? How do we confront them? Do we forgive them? The novel was written before the horror of New Town and Colorado. Nikki struggles to understand and to cope with the terror and with the sudden unwelcome celebrity that such incidents bring in their wake.

IAFBackCover(1) I made up the little town where Nikki lives, but it looks suspiciously like the one I live in, as it was when I moved here in 1976. We’ve spiffed up since then, with a new firehouse and police station, but I used the old ones. I manipulated the geography a little, too, but used our street names. Who could resist a heroine who lives on Snake Hill Road?”

For more information on Phoebe Wray, visit her at: http://jemma7729.blogspot.com Her books can be purchase through her publishers: Wolfsinger Publications: http://wolfsingerpubs.com/Intro.html and Dark Quest, LLC: http://darkquestbooks.com and at Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/Phoebe-Wray-Amazon

Thanks again to Phoebe Wray for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, blogs from me, and my new feature, Readers & Writers Recipes. Have a try-something-new day!– Vonnie

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Miracles, mystery, and magic are three of the best words to describe my fantasy short story collection, The Greener Forest. In The Greener Forest miracles are possible. In “Angels,” not only do angels sing in the trees, but pieces of their trunks tell a carver’s hands what to whittle away to free the angel inside the wood. In “Birdling,” a young woman rescues, then cares for a baby bird, but doesn’t know how to teach it to return to the wild. A Brown Man comes to her aid, then “blesses” her with the ability to see and hear the faeryfolk that live in her garden.

There are mysteries to be solved in The Greener Forest, too. Why do spriggans skulk about cypress knees, try to sabotage boats, and wreak havoc near the Ferris Wheel in “Tootsie’s Swamp Tours & Amusement Park?” In “Appleheads,” three kids try to figure out what creature is lurking in Miss Greenspun’s garden. And by showing up unannounced in her backyard, they discover her true identity as the moonlight filters through the branches of an ancient tree.

Magic abounds in The Greener Forest. When a granddaughter places a bowl of milk next to the pond where her grandfather believed a dragon lived, she begins a magical ritual in “Weathermaker.” And in “Blood of the Swan,” a young man searching for a healer to cure his village of an unknown disease becomes entangled in the magical scheme of a swan maiden.

M could stand for mermaid. In “Shoreside,” a ningyo (a kind of Japanese mermaid) who’s married a man and had three children with him, swims into the ocean to save a drowning boy. Once in the waves, the sea begins to call to her, and she must choose between her land-bound family and a life in the water.

M could also stand for murder. In “The Garden Shop,” a would-be thief makes the mistake of trying to rob a shopkeeper who not only knows he shot a fellow small business owner, but happens to be a fairy ready to hand out fairy justice.

And lastly, M could stand for more. Because these stories and more lead the reader into the depths of The Greener Forest, where Faerie and the everyday world collide. There is dark and light, evil and good, and uncertain dusky gray lurking in between the pages of this book. Discover that all is not what it seems at first glance, and wondrous things still happen in The Greener Forest.

The Greener Forest can be purchased at Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/Greener-Forest-VW-Crist-Amazon And please stop by http://vonniewinslowcrist.com and http://www.tinyurl.com/Fb-Vonnie-Winslow-Crist-Author

And on this most magical, mysterious and miraculous day, M could also stand for:  Merry Christmas!

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I’ve finally written a back cover blurb for, Owl Light, my upcoming collection of speculative tales. (Audible sigh of relief!)

I readily admit, I hate to write cover blurbs.  I’m never certain which 5 to 10 word summery per story will make readers want to pick up my book. Not to mention which tales to summarize. I also know many review and interview sites will use the cover blurb to introduce me and  to publicize the book. And I know the blurb needs to be brief (but not too brief).

 So how do I go about writing a blurb? In the case of Owl Light, I wrote a phrase about each tale in the collection. Then, I picked the 7 story descriptions I liked the best. After rearranging a couple of the phrases so they didn’t all start with “A,” I added an introductory sentence which  both mentions the book’s name and gives a 7 word summary of the entire collection.

Next, I wrote a concluding paragraph that invites readers into the world of Owl Light, making sure to mention the book’s name. This is important, since I want readers to remember the title. By the way, the very last sentence of the blurb is a bit of a challenge to readers in the form of a warning.

Though not written specifically for the Young Adult market, Owl Light is YA-friendly. I don’t mention that in the blurb, but my choice of language and the tone of the paragraphs implies PG or PG-13 content.

Did I write a successful cover blurb? Only time will tell! My editor needs to approve it, and my readers will have to let me know if it “works” for them. The blurb is printed below. Does it make you want to read Owl Light?

“In Owl Light, mystery and magic are close at hand. A deer hunter encounters the Daughter of Winter. Ghosts join a holiday celebration. A clockwork owl is the key to preventing murder. A gravedigger unearths a vengeful trow. To save the woman he loves, a dwarf strikes a bargain with faeryfolk. A sideshow attraction wishes to be normal with unexpected results. And an anthropologist must choose between her modern world and an ancient culture.

These stories and more dare the reader to step into Owl Light, where early stars flicker, owls wake from slumber, and shadows appear where shadows ought not be. But be warned, Owl Light dims to darkness, dreams change to nightmares, and dawn is more distant than you know.”

Cold Moon Press is hoping to have Owl Light available by Halloween 2012 – which is most appropriate since one of the tales is a Day of the Dead story (or actually, a Night of the Dead story).

Update: Owl Light is now available from Amazon.

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Over the past few days, several writers have asked about the differences in the stories & poems published by literary and genre magazines. (By genre, I mean science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, etc.) One writer even suggested that the rule for literary magazines is to “tell not show.” Dear me!

As the editor of a women’s literary magazine, “The Gunpowder Review,” published by the Gunpowder Pen Women http://gunpowderpenwomen.wordpress.com  I can assure writers that you still must SHOW not tell to get published in most literary magazines. I think the biggest difference I’ve notice as a writer/illustrator is that lit mags tend to not publish genre fiction & illos — whereas genre mags will sometimes publish literary prose & poetry as long as it’s subject appropriate.

Those with a sharp eye will notice the exception: genre poetry. If a sf/f/h/mystery poem tiptoes near enough to mainstream subjects, it has a reasonably good chance of being accepted for publication in a literary mag.

But I must tell you, if a story or poem is well-written, most editors will bend their “rules” and accept an urban fantasy or slightly supernatural mystery or near-future sf piece. And I think genre flash fiction can sneak into literary magazines easier than a 2,000+ word tale. Unfortunately, things like high fantasy, space westerns, vampire/werewolf tales, military sf, etc. are too genre no matter how well-written or short to fit into most lit mags.

Of course there are some editors who refuse to publish anything they view as genre, just as there are some teachers who rarely reward a genre story with a good grade. But even they can have their minds changed. When I took a “Writing the Novel” course as part of my Masters in Professional Writing, the instructor warned me, “You can write fantasy if you want, but it will be hard to earn even a “B” in the course.” I wrote fantasy — and much to the instructor’s credit, he changed his mind and rewarded my novel with an “A.”

So good luck to all you writers out there with writing & submitting your work. Whether you’re a genre or mainstream or literary writer, it’s important to research your markets.  And for you sf/f/h/mystery writers who want to see your writing in a lit mag, look for an editor who’s willing to stretch the boundaries of the “literary” magazine label.

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