Apr 262013
 

By PD Martin

Can’t believe it’s my turn now. It’s really happening. This is it…my last Murderati post. What is worthy of my last ever post on Murderati? The plain truth is nothing. There’s no way I can fully commemorate this occasion. But I’ll give it a shot :)

Atlhough, being one of the last in line, I can just plagiarise everyone else’s ideas on what to cover! The long goodbye posts from Murderati and ex-Murderati have talked about how they came to Murderati, what it’s meant to them, why they felt it was time to say goodbye, and some of the things they had bookmarked for future posts. Great ideas, guys. Thanks! Here’s my take…

To be honest I have no idea how/why my name came up in the Murderati ranks but I was thrilled when JT asked me if I wanted to join. Thanks JT or whoever suggested little old me. I think my biggest fear in those early days was blogging once a fortnight. What would I say? How could I keep it fresh and interesting? While I had a blog on my website, before Murderati my blogging was sporadic to say the least. To my surprise, I found that for the most part it was actually pretty easy coming up with blog posts and topics. There was probably only a handful of times when I was like ‘What the hell am I going to write about this time?’

Murderati has meant so much to me (it's hard for words to express how much). I’ve really enjoyed reading others’ posts and being part of this community. But like some of my fellow Murderati have talked about, at times it felt like blogging and Murderati was taking away from my writing time. Last Thursday one of our commenters said to Zoe: “Sorry to see you leave this blog. It's been a pleasure reading your posts. However if it means more novels from you then I support the decision wholeheartedly.” 

And I guess that’s the aim for most of us at Murderati. I think I could blog once a month, but once a fortnight (plus being part of the Murderati community by reading and commenting on others’ posts) has become more difficult. But as Alex said in her last post, it was scrambling to find ‘replacement’ authors that seemed to be happening too often and took a lot of time, too. The logistics of running the blog and keeping it going also took time.

That being said, I am a fan of the longer blog posts (as opposed to the Facebook bites we’ve been talking about) and intend to kick off my once a month schedule at www.pdmartin.com.au/blog. I’ve been trying to work out how to do it – stay on Thursdays but once every four weeks? No, I’ve decided the most logical thing (largely to make sure I don’t forget!) is to post something on the first of every month. I will post a link to that monthly blog on my facebook page and on the Murderati facebook page or just head on over to pdmartin.com.au/blog sometime after the first of each month if you want to keep reading my blogs. We're also talking about maybe starting up a Murderati discussion board given we know quite a few of our Murderati community members aren't on Facebook. What do you think?

Like Zoe (words of the week) and David (juke box heroes), I had also invested in my future Murderati blogs. Whenever I thought of a potential topic, I’d open up a Word doc I’ve got called ‘Murderati schedule’ and jot down the idea. Here are some of the topics I had written in that file: 

  1. Travelling with children/toddlers (based on my recent trip!)
  2. The arch nemesis in crime fiction
  3. The US political system versus Australia’s (not getting into personal politics, just comparing the systems – e.g. here in Oz we have like six weeks of campaigning before the election and that’s it, plus voting is compulsory (you get fined if you don’t vote).
  4. Tools of the trade (e.g. Scrivener).
  5. What’s in a name? Character names and what they mean.
  6. Self-editing tips.
  7. More Aussie guest authors (previously I’ve had guests of Kathryn Fox, Lindy Cameron, Katherine Howell and Angela Savage and I was planning on asking these Aussie authors to appear on Murderati, too: Louisa (LA) Larkin, Leigh Redhead, Robin Bowles, Alison Goodman and Tara Moss to name a few. Look them up...you won't regret it!

I’m also going to ‘borrow’ Gar’s idea from his last post — thinking about some of the posts I’ve written here and linking back my favourites.  Some of my favourite posts are:

Finally I’d like to say thanks to JT and Pari for starting this blog way back when and for including “The Aussie” in the mix. What’s amazing about my Murderati experience is that I’ve NEVER met any of my fellow Murderatis. How weird is that? It also speaks to the power of fiction (especially crime fiction) to bring people together from different parts of the world, and the power of the internet to make the world a smaller place.

So it’s goodbye from me. Although I’ve rarely posted music/videos, the song that kept playing in my head as I wrote the close of this post was the ‘Goodbye, farewell’ song from the Sound of Music. I was going to link to it here, but as unfortunate timing has it a couple of days ago I was diagnosed with pneumonia and I’m loading this post from a transient Internet connection in hospital and I’m having problems finding a decent YouTube link of it. So, you’ll just need to play the song in your heads, Rati :)

Goodbye, farewell…

Apr 112013
 

by PD Martin

I’ve been overseas the past three weeks and literally landed at Melbourne Airport four hours ago. I was planning on writing my blog for today while I was on holidays, but with everything that’s going on with Murderati, I found myself changing my mind constantly about subjects.  

Originally, the blog I had in my head for 11 April was going to be about my holiday. The family and I headed to Ireland for three weeks. My husband’s Irish and I lived there for a year and a half, so we spent our time catching up with friends and family. But there was also a very important purpose for this visit. You see, this was our first trip to Ireland since we picked our son up from Korea last year and this trip would celebrate his arrival into our family with his christening. In fact, we managed to get a wedding and two christenings in during our three-week holiday.

Anyway, then I thought I could blog about christenings and maybe even other non-religious birth celebrations. You know, even research the topic a bit plus talk about my personal experience. Even though I’m not a religious person, I found Liam’s christening incredibly moving.

But then I thought, no…I can’t blog about holidays or Ireland or christenings as part of my long goodbye. Can I? Maybe I can. I mean, the two subjects are tied together by the related themes of beginnings and endings. While I was in Ireland celebrating a wedding (the birth of a new marriage), two christenings (the birth of two beautiful boys), I was also in mourning. In mourning for Murderati. Births and deaths. Beginnings and endings. This is what's been going around and around in my head the past few weeks. 

I have to confess, when I logged on briefly from a borrowed phone to read the Monday 1 April blog and the comments I DID start to wonder…are we doing the right thing?  Do we have any other options? I think I speak for all the current Murderati gang when I say it’s been a tough choice. But for me personally, since we picked up Liam my writing time has been drastically cut. I have enjoyed blogging at Murderati immensely, but with my time so limited I did have to question whether it was the best possible use of time. I need to write more books. That really is my bottom line at the moment. And I need to do it with less available time than ever before. But it’s still sad…really sad to say goodbye to Murderati.

My last blog here at Murderati will be Thursday 25 April and that will be my official goodbye.  But for today I wanted to share everything that's been going on in head re beginnings and endings -- and why. And I guess I also wanted to explain why Murderati coming to an end breaks my heart but also seems like the most sensible thing to do. At some point in time, something's gotta give and I think it just so happens that more and more of the Murderati gang seem to be in this position right now. :(

Mar 142013
 

by PD Martin

I’ve always loved the research that goes along with being an author, particularly a crime fiction author. I’ve posted here on some of my different research subjects, such as cults (part 1 & 2), handwriting, Kung Fu and Dim-Mak, real-life vampires and being a hitman (or woman).

I’ve also mentioned that I’m currently working in another new genre, writing a young adult (YA) novel. But this little YA novel has been giving me grief. Like, quite a lot of grief. But it’s not the writing process (which has actually been pretty easy), it’s the research. And what makes it hard, is that the book is a pre-apocalyptic novel set in the year 2030. So, it’s the near future. And I guess I’m pretty hopeless at speculating what the world will be like in 17 years’ time.

A little background…the book is set in the US and much of the action takes place in the environment of the Secret Service. In some ways, I figure the near future setting means perhaps I’ve got a bit of leeway. If I don’t get a specific Secret Service procedure right, maybe it’s just that things changed from how it’s done now to how it would be done in 17 years in the future. Right?  

But there are so many little facts and questions that are bugging me. Here are just a few:

  • Will a new power source have been discovered by then or are we still talking the current methods, including nuclear power?
  • Can my main character raise her SIG 9mm to take a shot? Surely guns will still be around and SIG SAUER will still make them. Or will they?
  • Will the US election system still be the same?  
  • Will the President still fly on ‘Air Force One’ and ‘Marine One’? And presumably planes and choppers will still be our primary method of fast transport. Won’t they?
  • Will countries have merged to make new countries or super powers?
  • What will the world look like in terms of water shortage and greenhouse gases? Surely 17 years wouldn’t have much effect…or will it?
  • Will people be reaching for their phones and tablets or something entirely different?
  • What will the internet look like in 17 years’ time?

It seems this particular area of my imagination is pretty pathetic! Problem is, when dealing with the near future I think you tread a fine line between what’s plausible and what’s short-sighted.

Have you thought much about the near future and what it might look like? If you’ve got any insights into any of the above, go for it! Help me!!!! God knows I need it.

Feb 282013
 

By PD Martin

Ever feel like you’re falling short? Not quite meeting your own expectations or the expectations of others? Last week David talked about his intensive promotional schedule at the moment and, like David, I too feel stretched— but in different ways and for different reasons.

Like most people, I have several ‘roles’ or parts that make up my whole. In my case, it’s mother, wife, author, breadwinner and at the moment I’m also on a bit of a health-kick/diet. Problem is, I feel like I’m falling short in pretty much all of these areas.

Mother
Four weekdays, I’m the primary caregiver of our 21-month-old son and our six-year-old daughter. And of course, weekends and mornings/nights it’s shared duty! I’m blessed with two amazing children and I love being a mum. Yet, there are things I’d like to change. I feel so disorganised in the motherhood stakes some times. Every morning, I allow myself just over an hour to get ready and out the door. Yet somehow, I still find myself frazzled and yelling to get my daughter moving. Maybe that’s normal, but it feels so chaotic and stressful and by school drop-off time I feel like I’ve run an emotional marathon. Which is ridiculous! It shouldn’t be that hard to get two kids out the door. I’m clearing doing something wrong…falling short. And I really somehow need to find more patience so I can be a better mum.

Wife
I’m an incredibly vague and forgetful person, which is not easy to live with. I’m one of those annoying people who asks a question and then can’t remember if the person answered me or not (let alone what the answer was). Yes, I’m busy and my mind is full, but is that an excuse?

Author
Well, the actual writing process is going amazingly! Even with only having 15 hours a week (eight hours on one day and then the other seven hours are scattered all over the place) I’ve managed to write the first draft of a YA novel (58,000 words) in less than four months. I’ve now moved into the editing stage and so far I’m pretty happy with the novel.

But the problem is, I’m not bringing in enough money from my writing pursuits and my ebooks, which brings me to the next point…

Breadwinner
While I’m not the primary breadwinner, we do rely on a fairly decent part-time salary from me to make ends meet. In the past two years, I’ve taken on teaching and freelance work and if I don’t manage to get an advance for this next YA book (and/or my ebook sales remain at their current level) the reality is I’ll need to spend my 15 hours a week on paid freelance work not on MY writing. And that sucks! I’ve probably got until July to make something happen.

My health kick/diet
I’m also currently on a no wheat, no sugar (including fruit) six-week plan. The goal is to see how my body responds to getting rid of these two things in my diet and lose 6kg (13 pounds). I’ve actually been going pretty well with this one. I’ve had a few lapses, but three weeks in I am 3kg lighter. Still, I know I won’t lose this week and I have broken it. So I guess I’ve fallen short on this one this week, too!

So, Rati. Are you falling short anywhere in your life? Everywhere?  Lay it on me! And/or what are your thoughts on expectations these days? Do we expect too much of ourselves?

Feb 142013
 

By PD Martin

My last blog was on my love-hate relationship with writing. However, I did mention that at the moment I’m in the love stage of writing. In fact, I’d say I’m on a writing high. Do you know what I mean?

For published authors it’s that feeling of: “This is the one. The breakthrough novel that will get me from being a mid-list author to a best seller.”

And for unpublished authors it’s more like: “This is the one. The novel that will get me an agent and/or publishing deal.”

Sound familiar?

I guess for me at the moment, it’s kind of both of those things. Having tried the ebook route last year, I’ve decided I’d like to go back to the traditional agent and publisher option, at least for some of my projects. And this one I’m working on at the moment is one that could probably be quite successful as an ebook (young adult, pre-apocalyptic) but I also hope it would catch the attention of an agent and then a publisher.

But I’m wary. Wary of that writing high. It’s the most amazing feeling. Kind of like you’re invincible. Like you’ve got this pooled energy of positive butterflies in your stomach whenever you write or think about your novel. You want to dance around, punch the air. You want to celebrate. But then the logical part of you knows that there’s nothing to actually celebrate yet. Sure, there’s the fact that you’ve written (or are writing) a novel that you believe in, that you’re enjoying writing and that you think will keep readers turning the page long after their scheduled bed time. And don’t get me wrong, that is something to celebrate…sort of.

You see, being a pragmatist, and having been around the block a few times, I know I have to temper that feeling a little. First off, it’s naïve and egotistical to think that a book you’ve written is a guaranteed, sure-fire best seller. Partly because writing is a roller coaster. One minute you love the words on the page and think it’s the best thing ever…the next you’re wondering how you could have thought that such a pile of drivel was actually any good. Know the feeling?

It’s also partly because I know this business is also about luck. Obviously you start with a quality manuscript, yes. But that manuscript needs to land on the right person’s desk at the right time. It needs to have the ‘right’ cover art, it needs to be promoted in some way and, somehow, word of mouth needs to start. This is still the big unknown. I’ve had people in my publishing houses with 20+ years of experience tell me they (meaning the person and publishers in general) still don’t know why one book takes off and another of equal or better ‘quality’ doesn’t. That kind of sucks. But it seems it’s the truth. And we’ve all been trying to crack social media for that word of mouth surge, but if I’m honest I’m still clueless about that, too. Well, not clueless but my efforts in the ebook sphere haven’t resulted in a top 10 or even top 100 book. Sure, I do the obvious — get people to review my books, put up stuff about it on Facebook and Twitter and email my website subscribers but I’m not sure how to take it to the next level.

Anyway, I’m off topic. Back to the high. I mentioned that sometimes that high is also naivety. As a writing teacher, I see that a lot and it’s a fine balance. Someone in your class says they’ve quit their day job to finish their book and then sell it. You want to inspire them, keep them positive, but I think it’s important to counter some of that naivety. They’re on the writing high…great. But it would be negligent of me to at least not mention what the average book deal is worth in $ and how many first-time manuscripts actually get published. Of course, I also mention the writers who have had amazing success with their first novels (JK Rowling comes to mind). Like I said, I want to inspire them, too.

So, I’m about 90% through my first draft of this YA book and I already know what I have to refine in the edit. But I’m still incredibly excited. I want to live that high. Embrace it. And I know I have a tendency to be a glass-is-half-empty person so I don’t want my rational mind to bring me down too much. But I must also remember I’ve been in this place before. Last year I finished my first mainstream drama that focused on motherhood while also touching on some much more difficult issues of fertility, sexual assault and abortion. I was sure I had a winner. And despite some very positive feedback from test readers my first round of about 15 agents all passed. I stopped sending it out and paid a very experienced editor for a structural edit. I’ve yet to action those edits because I’m too caught up in my current story. And I hope that when I fix the problems I can go out to my next tier of agents and have more success. But my point is, when I was writing that I was sure it was The One.

 And now I’m sure this one is The One. So, I’m excited, I’m loving the writing and I’m enjoying that writing high. It’s inspiring me, driving me forward. But I’m also scared. What if I’m wrong?

Jan 312013
 

By PD Martin

I wrote this post before I saw Gar’s post yesterday – amazing synchronicity we have here at Murderati sometimes…

I’ve realised over the past few months that I have an ‘unusual’ relationship to my writing.  Or perhaps it’s pretty normal…you tell me. In some ways how writing makes me feel and my attitude towards it are contradictory. A love-hate relationship.

On the one hand, I love writing. I don’t get much time at the computer these days as a full-time mum to a young toddler, but the time I do get I cherish. I covet. I get cranky if something stands in the way of my writing day. My basic routine now is one full writing day (my husband works four days a week) and 1 hour on the other four days of the week during Liam’s naps.

The end of last year and the start of this year saw my limited writing time crunched even more…my daughter’s birthday, school holidays (21 December to 31 January here), Christmas, New Year, and our beach holiday. Three out of the first four weeks down at the beach I didn’t have my writing day (my husband was still working and commuting). At this point I was frustrated. Cranky, even. I needed to write. Finally on 11 January I had my first full writing day. And I wrote 7,500 words. Not surprisingly, I was pretty happy with that word count, and the words themselves. It made me realise how much I’d missed writing. It literally gushed out of me. And like Gar, I’m currently writing a story I want to write. I’m loving writing it and seeing how the characters and plot unfold. And while I do hope it’s commercially viable (which, of course, is code for a best seller), it’s probably not the best story to write from a business/marketing perspective. It’s a different genre (again) for a start!

Now, we’re still on the love part of my relationship with writing…I do love writing. I do.  But sometimes I feel hypocritical because I don’t write at night. Problem is, usually I’m just too plain tired to sit at the computer. I find a day as a full-time mother much more tiring than a day at a full-time job. Plus, this is my time with my husband. Our time to sit back and have a nice dinner and perhaps a glass of wine. And maybe catch up on our favourite TV shows (Dexter, Person of Interest, Homeland and our latest discovery is the UK’s Sherlock, which Alex blogged about here quite extensively and mentioned on Tuesday!) By the way, Alex, now that I’ve watched it I totally agree :) We’re loving Sherlock.

So now onto the hate part. At times, I feel like my chosen path has taken many things away from me (or at least denied me things). I look at my friends who are still in the corporate world, and I do notice the differences in our lifestyles. Bigger houses, better cars, dinners out…etc. etc. And on the one hand I feel: “No, that’s all material stuff. I’m living my dream — literally.”  Then I answer myself back: “No, your dream is to make a living from writing, or better yet be a best-selling novelist.” And I hate that my love and skill doesn’t equate to making a decent living.   

At times, I think I have to give up for my own sanity. Not to mention financial freedom.  If I went back into the corporate world (even part time) things would certainly be a lot easier financially. But if I’m this cranky when I’m only getting a few hours here and there to write, what would I be like if I didn’t write at all? Or if I wasn’t writing at all, wasn’t trying to finish a book and write that best seller, would I simply be able to let it go?

I’m thinking many of the writers out there can relate to this dilemma. There are at least a few of us at Murderati who’ve been circling or blogging directly about how hard it is to do what we love and make a living.

So, what’s the answer? Go back into the corporate world? Work harder at my writing? Maybe I need to force myself to write at night to add a couple of hours to my weekly quota.

I’m actually feeling pretty good about my current work in progress, but I usually do when I’m in the middle of the first draft. I have that writing high — which deserves a dedicated blog, so that will be in a fortnight’s time.

Safe to say, I’m in the love cycle of my relationship with writing, as long as I don’t think about the dream. The author’s dream.

So, Murderati if you’ve got answers or thoughts throw them my way. Is it normal to love writing but also resent it (almost kind of hate it) because of the financial repercussions of choosing this path? I’m thinking maybe that’s pretty normal for an author these days. And maybe there are no answers.

I’m going to try to focus on the love at the moment. You?

Jan 222013
 

By PD Martin

This Saturday is Australia Day. Given I know many (most) of our readers are NOT Australian, you might be interested to know that Australia Day commemorates the arrival of the first fleet in 1788.

It’s a big day here in Oz, yet I’m feeling mixed about it all. There are so many layers to this day. Good, bad, and plain ugly.

First off, at the most superficial level I think most Australians will agree it’s a great day for a BBQ (a national past time, particularly in summer; and Australia Day is one of those days when pretty much everyone either has or goes to an Australia Day BBQ).  It’s also a public holiday, and let’s face it, who doesn’t like a day off? In fact, this year because it falls on Saturday, the public holiday is on Monday (in lieu), so we get a long weekend — bonus! Mind you, as a full-time mum public holidays don’t actually mean a ‘day off’ for me, but they do mean a day of family time, which is something I cherish greatly.

There’s also the part of me that’s incredibly proud to be an Australian and so it’s nice to have a day to honour this feeling. I love this country and while Australians generally have a low-key kind of patriotism, it’s still there, bubbling away underneath. You probably got a sense of my pride in Australia during my blog on our gun laws (yes, I think we’ve got it right). Plus our healthcare system is pretty damn good, I think. Then of course there’s the country itself (the cities, the outback, the bushland, the beaches). I also love how multicultural we are these days. And let’s not forget the weather. Having lived in Ireland for a year and a half, I think I appreciate our sunshine even more now. Looking out to blue skies and maybe a few puffs of cloud at least 6-9 months out of the year is extremely important to me. It sets the mood for the day and instantly makes me feel upbeat. Sure, the really, really hot days aren’t my favourites but I’d rather be hot than cold any day.

So, all of the above are incredibly positive things. Go, Australia. Yay, Australia. I love living here. Australia Day rocks. But then…

I think about the actual day it commemorates — the British declaring sovereignty over Australia (then New Holland), and everything that followed in terms of our indigenous population. In fact, most of our Indigenous population call Australia Day Invasion Day. And of course, that’s what it was. It’s all about perspective. Having lived in Ireland and studied some of its history extensively for Grounded Spirits, I often compare the two countries. Ireland is the most invaded country in the world. Its most recent invasion, of course, had massive consequences — consequences that were felt for centuries (and still are). After all, that’s how Ireland became Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. (Note: I realise I have simplified a very complex issue with this statement. And yes, it is/was also very tied up in religion. But what you’ve got to remember, is that traditionally the Catholics were Irish and the Protestants were English.)

Anyway, part of Grounded Spirits takes place in the 1820s, when the Irish weren’t even allowed to own land in their own country. Ireland has been fighting invaders, either in the political arena or physically, for pretty much its entire history. The Irish fought their invaders over the centuries. What would have happened if Australia’s indigenous population had guns? Would a battle between Australia’s indigenous population and invaders (British or otherwise) still be going on today? Would the country be split in half?   

The final layer…In terms of Australia Day commemorating the British declaring sovereignty, I’d actually rather Australia was a Republic. I believe that the average Australian actually does NOT feel an affiliation to the UK or the Queen. Problem is, for better or worse we don’t fully understand that burning desire to legally be a Republic. As a result, most Aussies (non-Indigenous) are pretty apathetic about the whole issue.

However, many of the supporters of an Australian Republic believe it would (and should) be linked to Reconciliation. These two issues could be tied together — an Australian Republic that starts afresh, recognising that Australia has been built on the foundations of indigenous Australians, British settlers/invaders and the massive number of migrants that now form our multicultural population. Symbolically, a Republic could be a new start with an acknowledgement of this country’s true history.

Australia Day…see what I mean about the layers? The good, the bad and the ugly?

So, what will I do on Australia Day? I will celebrate all the positives of this wonderful nation, but the history and the need for both Reconciliation and an Australian Republic will also be at the forefront of my mind. We do have friends coming down for a BBQ, but I’ll make sure we talk about the layers of Australia Day.

Jan 032013
 

By PD Martin

Like many people I often feel reflective around this time of year and I thought today I’d use that feeling to think about my year (2012) of blogging here at Murderati. My highlights! I’ve included craft blogs for the writers plus some more general posts. Hope you enjoy the highlights show…

I opened 2012 up with a look at the health hazards of being a writer — and I think these apply no matter what year we’re in! Things like RSI, carpal tunnel syndrome, alcoholism, insomnia, stress, etc.

And if you’ve ever wondered whether being an author was more about talent or skill, check out my April 10 blog.

In May Aussie Kathryn Fox was my guest, and she talked about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)…an eye-opening blog!

One of my July blogs was about the rollercoaster effect of being a writer — the creative rollercoaster, the agent rollercoaster, etc.

September was a very important and personal blog — And Baby Makes Four. This blog talked about us going to Korea to pick up our new son.

Finally, I closed 2012 with a blog on the gun laws in Australia. It was in response to some of the discussions I was part of on Murderati and Facebook about the tragedy in Connecticut.

So they are my blog (and sometimes life) highlights of 2012. Obviously there were a lot of blogs (and milestones) in between, but I wanted to mention some of my favourites.

What are some of your highlights of the year? Blog or otherwise :)

Jan 012013
 

Zoë Sharp

The first moon of 2013

Welcome to the first Wildcard Tuesday blog of 2013, and an enormously Happy New Year to you all. For this I asked a few lighthearted questions of fellow ‘Rati past and present, and below are their answers. I hope you find them worthy of a giggle.

(As a small aside, I started off searching for sensible author pix, but what I’ve actually ended up going for are the silliest pix that came up on the first page of a Google Images search on that author’s name.)

ALLISON BRENNAN

Where did you choose to celebrate the holiday season this year?

Home, as usual.

What would have been your ideal location?

Home! (Though, I would have liked to have gone to Disneyland right after Christmas ... maybe next year!)

What was the best—or worst—gift you've ever received?

My husband once gave me an electric grout cleaner. Needless to say, I never used it.

The best—or worst—meal or item of food you've been served—or served to others?

The absolute best Christmas dinner we've had was when I decided to cook prime rib instead of the standard turkey or ham. It was pricey, but oh-so-delicious! I think that was back in 1997 ...

What's your idea of the Christmas From Hell?

Traveling for Christmas.

Looking back, what was your favourite moment from 2012?

Watching my oldest daughter graduate from high school—and hearing her and the Seraphim Choir sing the National Anthem. They were amazing.

I'm not going to ask about New Year's resolutions, but do you have one ambition, large or small, you'd like to achieve in 2013?

Walk daily, meet my deadlines, don't sweat the small stuff.

And finally, what book(s) have you brought out this year?

Two Lucy Kincaid books from Minotaur/SMP—SILENCED and STALKED; a short story in the anthology LOVE IS MURDER; an indie published novella MURDER IN THE RIVER CITY.

And what's on the cards for the early part of 2013?

A Lucy Kincaid novella in March (RECKLESS), and two more book STOLEN and COLD SNAP. Plus a short story for the NINC anthology and maybe another indie novella. If I have time.

 

DAVID CORBETT

Where did you choose to celebrate the holiday season this year?

Home alone, if "choose" and "celebrate" are the correct verbs. Mette arrives on the 28th, so things should get merrier at that point.

What would have been your ideal location?

Buenos Aires. Ireland. A beach in Mexico.

What was the best—or worst—gift you've ever received?

Best gift I ever "received" was one I gave. As a gag gift I bought my late wife a red flannel union suit with a button seat flap that she absolutely loved. Slept in it all the time. Cozy as hell. Damn, she was happy.

The best—or worst—meal or item of food you've been served—or served to others?

When I was a kid one of my classmates' families came over during the holidays and brought cookies that literally made me gag. I picked one up, sniffed it like a cocker spaniel, recoiled, and put it back. My brother started bellowing, "You touched it, you have to eat it." Unfortunately, King Solomon (my father) agreed. I almost upchucked trying to get it down.

What's your idea of the Christmas From Hell?

Oh, let's not go there.

Looking back, what was your favourite moment from 2012?

A weekend in San Antonio for the wedding of one of Mette's dearest friends, when I got introduced to the inner circle. Also, the moments when I read the cover quotes I received for THE ART OF CHARACTER. I was incredibly humbled and grateful so many writers I respect said so many kind and generous things.

One ambition, large or small, you'd like to achieve in 2013?

Make the new book a success, and wrap up the novel I'm working on to my own persnickety satisfaction.

And finally, what book(s) have you brought out this year?

Open Road Media and Mysterious Press re-issued all four of my novels in ebook format in 2012, with a brand new short story collection titled KILLING YOURSELF TO SURVIVE.

And what's on the cards for the early part of 2013?

The new book, THE ART OF CHARACTER, comes out on January 29th, 2013 from Penguin.

 

ALEXANDRA SOKOLOFF

Where?

New Orleans.

Ideal location?

It's hard to top New Orleans.

Best/worst gift?

Well, there's this pretty spectacular amethyst necklace...

Best/worst food?

I've served many a bad meal to others. For everyone's sake I stopped trying to cook long ago. Personally I don't care much what food gets served, but I do remember one Christmas morning in London with blackberry jam on waffles and whisky for breakfast. The blackberry jam ended up all sorts of places and it was all very lovely.  I could do that again.

Christmas From Hell?

It's hard to narrow that down, actually. Endless scenarios spring to mind. I hate being cold, though, so winter is perilous.

Favourite moment from 2012?

For public consumption, you mean? The general reader response to HUNTRESS MOON has been a real high.

One ambition in 2013?

I'd like to find a really wonderful place to live.

Books this year?

My crime thriller HUNTRESS MOON, a boxed set of three of my supernatural thrillers called HAUNTED, a novella called D-GIRL ON DOOMSDAY in an interconnected anthology with three other dark fantasy female author friends: APOCALYPSE: YEAR ZERO. And I got several backlist titles back and put them out as e books at wonderfully affordable prices: THE UNSEEN, BOOK OF SHADOWS, THE HARROWING and THE PRICE.

And for 2013?

The next book in my Huntress series comes out in late January:  BLOOD MOON. My next book in the paranormal Keepers series, KEEPER OF THE SHADOWS, comes out in May.

I'm selling my house in January and buying another as soon as possible, probably in California.

 

PD MARTIN

Where?

Every year we have Christmas Day at our home (in Melbourne) and then go down to the Mornington Peninsula (seaside) for most of January. It's the hottest time of year here in Oz, so it's great to be near the beach. We stay in a 1970s holiday house my grandparents bought in 1972, and given I spent summers down there as a kid it's particularly special to now be going down there with my children.

Ideal location?

The Peninsula is pretty good :) Although we've always said that one year we'll do a white/winter Christmas in New York or something.

Best/worst gift ever received?

Best gift I ever received was actually for my birthday this year—my Kindle. I'm a complete convert to the point where I can't imagine ever reading a 'real' book again. I prefer the Kindle reading experience for some reason.

Best meal?

I am biased, but I make a mean Tira Misu. I got the recipe from a chef and it's divine! And great because you make it a day or two before, so it's one thing to cross off the food preparation list early.

Christmas From Hell?

Mmm....I guess having to run around. You know, multiple visits. We do that a bit on Christmas Eve, but I enjoy the fact that then on Christmas Day we just kick back. We start with oysters at midday, then it's prawns (yes, on the BBQ), then an Asian style salmon fillet dish then Tira Misu (at about 4pm). Then a movie!

Favourite moment from 2012?

That's easy for me—picking up our son, Liam, from Korea and making our family of three a family of four :)

One ambition, large or small, for 2013?

I've got a few books I'd like to finish. And hey, a best seller or a lotto win wouldn't go astray either.

Book(s) this year?

THE MISSING (two short stories), WHEN JUSTICE FAILS (two short true-crime pieces), HELL'S FURY (new book in spy thriller series), and two novels for younger readers that I've released under the pen name Pippa Dee—GROUNDED SPIRITS and THE WANDERER.

What’s next?

Probably what I've been doing the past few months—juggling motherhood and writing...and feeling like I'm going to crack under the pressure! 

 

JT ELLISON

Where?

Nashville and Florida.

Ideal location?

A family trip to Italy would have been fun.

Best gift you've ever received?

I got engaged during Christmas 1994, so that ranks up there....

Worst meal?

Italy, Cinque Terre, a large full fish the size of a cat, with its baleful eye staring up at me... I swear the thing was still breathing. Ugh! 

Christmas From Hell?

There's no such thing. I love Christmas.

Favourite moment from 2012?

Seeing my DH in his gorgeous new kilt for the first time. *fans self*

One ambition, large or small, for 2013?

I want to learn how to paint. In oil, large canvas abstracts. 

Book(s) last year?

A DEEPER DARKNESS, EDGE OF BLACK, STORM SEASON

And for 2013?

Writing, writing and more writing. Deadline January 30!

 

 MARTYN WAITES (half of Tania Carver)

Where?

At my in-laws. The kids wanted to go to see all their cousins. They love a big family get together. As for me, I'm pretty bah humbug about it. I don't care where I go or what I do or whether I get any presents or not. As long as I get to see Doctor Who, I'm happy.

Ideal location?

Somewhere abroad. Morocco would be good. If they were showing Doctor Who.

Best/worst gift ever received?

I've been lucky enough to get plenty of presents. I can't think of specifics in terms of best or worst, but for me the worst kind of gift is the thoughtless kind that someone has put no effort, time or care into. The best ones are the ones you absolutely want. Even if you don't know you do until you get them. I was lucky enough to get one of those this Christmas.

Best/worst meal?

At Christmas? It's all the same. I'm not a fan of Christmas dinner. Or any roast dinner for that matter. I eat it, but that's because it's what you do at Christmas. Like getting into water and swimming. The best meal I was ever served was at a Persian restaurant in Birmingham in 1988. It involved chicken and pomegranates and I've never tasted anything like it to this day. The restaurant disappeared soon afterwards in a kind of Brigadoon fashion and I sometimes wonder whether I actually went there. As for bad food . . . loads. In fact, it probably outnumbers the good food. That's why I try to remember the good ones.

Christmas From Hell?

Being forced to spend time with people I hate. That goes for the rest of the year as well. And not seeing Doctor Who.

Favourite moment from 2012?

Well, I wrote about my favourite cultural things on the last Murderati post—Y Niwl and the Hammer films retrospective—so they would be there in a big way. But other than that, it was something very small and personal that I'm afraid I couldn't share and that I doubt anyone would be particularly interested in.

One ambition, large or small, for 2013?

I do. I can't say anything about it in case I jinx it, but it will be the culmination of a lifetime's ambition. Or at least I hope it will.

Book(s) this year?

CHOKED, the fourth Tania Carver book came out in September in the UK. THE CREEPER, the second one, came out in the States. There have been other editions round the world and I think Russia finally got round to publishing my 2006 novel, THE MERCY SEAT.

And 2013?

Finishing the new Tania, THE DOLL'S HOUSE, which I'm uncharacteristically quite pleased with. Although it could all go horribly wrong. And then there's the afore(not)mentioned secret project . . .

 

GAR ANTHONY HAYWOOD

Where?

At the family's new home in Glassell Park, which we moved into in October.

Ideal location?

At the family's new home in Aspen, Colorado, which doesn't exist.

Best/worst gift ever received?

The best was a dictionary.  It was given to me many years ago by a wonderful woman who at the time was my mother-in-law to be.  She knew I was an aspiring writer and gifted me accordingly, which, oddly enough, no one in my immediate family had ever thought to attempt before.  I still own that dictionary, too.

Don't get me started on the worst gifts I've ever received.

Best/worst food?

The best, far and away, is the egg nog my godfather makes over the holidays. It tastes great and man, does it have a kick to it.

Never been given a fruitcake as a gift, and I pray I never am.

Christmas From Hell?

I think I actually experienced it last year.  Attended the worst Catholic midnight Mass possible: cornball music, pointless sermon, and theatre lighting (the service was being video-taped) that would make a mole cover its eyes.  Awful.

Favourite moment from 2012?

The family's spring break vacation in the Galapagos.  Unbelievable!

One ambition for 2013?

Completion of a manuscript that a conventional publisher buys for a tidy sum.

Book(s) last year?

Didn't have a book published this year, though my Aaron Gunner novels were re-released as e-books by Mysterious Press/Open Road.

And for the early part of 2013?

Early?  Maybe my first book for middle-graders, which my agent is shopping now.  Later in the year?  With the grace of God, a publication deal for my first Aaron Gunner novel in almost 10 years.

 

STEPHEN JAY SCHWARTZ

Where?

Stayed at home with the wife and kids—enjoyed the beach and the beautiful Southern California weather.  Played Scrabble and hung out in cafés.  Enjoyed a big meal of matzoh ball soup and tofurky.

Ideal location?

Ireland.  Clifton or Dingle, to be precise.

Best/worst gift ever received?

I haven't paid attention to holiday gifts for a long time.  I think the worst gift I ever got was for my bar mitzvah—it was a belt buckle.  No, actually, perhaps the worst was the beer stein my father gave me for my high school graduation.  This, instead of the car I had my eyes on.

Best/worst item of food?

Probably that tofurky we had last week.

Christmas From Hell?

Again, tofurky takes the price.

Favourite moment from 2012?

Seeing my son come back healthy and happy after a two-month hospital stay in Wisconsin.

One ambition, large or small, for 2013?

Main ambition—work to live a creative life, 24/7.

Book(s) this year?

Move along, nothing to see here.

What's on the cards for the early part of 2013?

Move along, nothing to see here either...

 

BRETT BATTLES

Where?

The first half I spent in a hot, tropical location with my feet in the water, a beer nearby, and a Kindle in my hand; the second half at home in L.A. with my kids, my parents, and my sister and her kids.

Ideal location?

Nailed it this year.

Best gift ever received?

This year I got the complete set of Calvin & Hobbs from my parents. It was perfect!

Best food?

I made a pretty awesome ham this year that was juicy and delicious. Hmmm, I'm craving leftovers right now!

Christmas From Hell?

Not being able to spend time with my family.

Favourite moment from 2012?

It was a pretty good year all around, so one event...? Going to San Diego for a week with my kids and parents was pretty damn fun!

One ambition for 2013?

Just more of the same ... write, travel, and spend time with friends and family.

Book(s) last year?

2012: THE DESTROYED (Quinn #5), PALE HORSE (Project Eden #3), THE COLLECTED (Quinn #6), and ASHES (Project #Eden #4)

And for 2013?

At least four more novels (hopefully five), including a secret collaboration I can't quite talk about yet.

 

TESS GERRITSEN

Where?

At home. With family.

Ideal location?

Exactly the same place.

Worst gift you've ever received?

An orange pantsuit.  I mean, really. My husband has not bought me anything orange ever since. (I’m guessing it didn’t look like this, then, Tess? ZS)

Best/worst meal?

For Christmas?  Not one bad meal sticks out.  On Christmas, everything tastes wonderful.

Christmas From Hell?

Being stuck in an airport. Far from family.

Favourite moment from 2012?

Standing on the Great Wall of China, with my husband and sons.

One ambition, for 2013?

To finally plant a vegetable garden that the deer can't demolish.

Book(s) out last year?

LAST TO DIE was published this past summer.

And what's on the cards for 2013?

Early 2013, I am headed to the Amazon River.

 

PARI NOSKIN TAICHERT

Where?

At home in peace. No requirements, no expectations. I just let myself be.

Ideal location?

The only other place I can imagine being this calm and relaxed would be Antibes . . .

Best gift?

Probably the best gift I've received so far is an essay my younger teen wrote about a difficult incident we shared last year and how it has taught her empathy. Made me cry, it touched my heart so.

Best/worst meal?

The best meal remains one brunch I had in Puerto Rico: fresh flying fish brought in that morning from a catch in Barbados, steamed bread fruit, Barbadian yellow hot sauce, fresh mangos picked minutes before from a tree just steps from where we ate.

Christmas From Hell?

I think it would be one filled with efforts to make it perfect, so many efforts that they'd hit the tipping point and tumble down to the other side of happiness.

Favourite moment from 2012?

The one where I finally realized I'm going to be all right, that the trials of this last year may continue . . . but they're not going to pull me down into the depths of despair anymore.

One ambition, large or small, for 2013?

Yes.

1. I'd like to e-publish the book that "almost" sold to NYC. It's the first in a new series and I'd like my character to meet readers and vice versa.

2. To continue to explore my creativity in whatever ways it's now manifesting, to give myself permission to let it fly.

Book(s) last year?

Nothing in 2012. I've been in hibernation for many reasons including the whole copyright issue and the divorce.

And for 2013?

To begin writing again and to enjoy it . . .

 

ZOË SHARP

As for me, I also spent Christmas this year with my family, which was where I wanted to be.

My ideal would probably have been a ski-in/ski-out chalet somewhere with plenty of snow. Not necessarily for skiing, but definitely for sculpting. I never did get to finish that Sphinx …

As for my ambitions for 2013, to find a life/work balance and to continue to improve my craft.

And books? In 2012 I brought out two e-boxed sets of the first six Charlie Fox novels, plus several short stories, and of course, DIE EASY: Charlie Fox book ten.

In 2013, DIE EASY is hot off the press in the States. I’m also editing two new projects—a supernatural thriller called CARNIFEX, and a standalone crime thriller called THE BLOOD WHISPERER, as well as working on the first in a new trilogy, the first in what I hope will be a new series, a novella project I can’t say too much about yet, and—of course—Charlie Fox book eleven. That should keep me going for a bit :)

So, it only remains for me to wish you all an incredibly Happy New Year, and to thank you for your comments and your feedback during 2012.

Dec 062012
 

By PD Martin

There have been posts on Murderati before about books being turned into films, including David Corbett’s recent post on Cloud Atlas.

However, I’m not setting myself such lofty heights (!). I’m looking at book versus film YA style. You see, the novel I’m currently working on is YA (primarily, at least) and so I’ve been reading in that genre, including some of the breakout hits. Two I want to talk about today are I am Four and The Hunger Games.

So, first off I should say that with I am Four my first exposure was the movie (loved it for the pure escapist, sci-fi, action-packed style that it was). And yes, I know it’s not high-brow. There, I said it. Problem was, the movie was obviously a part one, and ended with a cliff-hanger. So, I  Googled it to see when the next instalment would be out, only to discover there was nothing in the works. After dismissing it for many months (longer actually), I finally decided I wanted to find out what happened. Especially given I wanted to read in the YA space. And while I could have read I am Four, I cheated a little and jumped to the second book, The Power of Six. And this is when I discovered something interesting…the movie is actually better than the book (IMHO) – at least the movie was executed better than book 2 (and book 3, The Rise of Nine, for that matter). Now, we always hear about movies not living up to the expectation of the book, but this was reversed for me. I felt the characters were actually more well-developed in the movie than they were in books 2 and 3, and I found some of the writing mechanics a little clunky. That’s obviously with my author hat on, of course.

At the time I was reading The Power of Six, I was also doing the final stint of my Writing Australia tour, teaching writing. Anyway, one of my slides looked at what makes a book ‘good’. My list includes things like: engaging characters, well-developed plot, writing style and being a page-turner (to name a few).  Funny thing is, the I am Four books are complete page-turners. I finished them quickly and didn’t want to put them down. I may moan about the character development and writing style, but I ploughed through them, eager to lap up the next instalment. They were page turners and so using my own definition they are ‘good’. Yet they failed to tick any of the other boxes.

Move on to the next blockbuster film and trilogy…The Hunger Games. Again, I saw the movie first (really just to see what all the fuss was about) ages ago and then recently as part of my research decided to read the book. And this time I did read the first book. In this case, I have no strong opinion either way whether the book is better than the movie or vice versa. In fact, I think they’re probably pretty equal. But, once again I’m totally INTO the series. I finished the first book and downloaded the second straight away. I’m pathetically taken in by the romance element (I know, I’m hopeless!) and the sense of impending rebellion — I’m dying to see what happens next. I’m now 50% through book 2, Catching Fire. Sshh, don’t tell me what happens.

Another book-to-movie comparison that always comes to mind for me is Lord of the Rings. I actually think Peter Jackson did the most amazing job of adapting those novels. In fact, in some ways the movie version was an improvement (hope I don’t get hate mail over that one!). But seriously, who needed Tom Bombadil??

Anyway, Murderati, have you seen/read any of my YA examples above? Thoughts? What about Lord of the Rings movie versus book? Or what is your favourite or least favourite book-to-movie adaptation?

Finally, I can't blog on 6 December without saying happy birthday to the most amazing girl in the world. Our daughter is six today!