Monthly Archives: February 2018

Integrity v. Profit on a Very Small Scale

We authors are warned to keep politics and other contentious issues from our social media postings, lest we lose readers who disagree with our stance on political and social issues.

But I just can’t.

Does it matter? At this point, I’m on my way to publication, but under a pen name. Other works will be published under my own name. So far, all my work destined for publication is light-hearted genre fiction, the kind of stories people read for fun, for relief of the steady drumbeat of bad news rattling our skulls.

I haven’t yet set up my author webpage—that’s the biggest item on my spring to-do list. I won’t use that site to promote a political viewpoint. And I have no illusions that I’ll become a mover-and-shaker on the political scene.

But my personal postings will continue to reflect my status as a Left Coast Lefty McLeft-face, outraged by gun violence, by bigotry, by disregard for the environment, and the many other crimes against humanity spreading like rotten goo across our once-great nation. And I’ll continue to raise my voice, to do my tiny part to scrape away the goo, like a volunteer washing oil-spill residue from sea birds. (Forgive me, Anne LaMott.)

Someday, a reader might notice and object. Oh well. I’d rather lose readers than integrity.

How about you? Do you conceal your personal beliefs from readers? Trumpet your beliefs for all to hear? Or something in between?

IWSG: What’s Your Favorite Genre?


Huzzah! For the month of January, I met my goal of posting a blog entry every week. And now it’s once again time for our monthly blog hop from Insecure Writers Support Group. Thanks to this month’s co-hosts Stephen Tremp, Pat Garcia, Angela Wooldridge, Victoria Marie Lees, and Madeline Mora-Summonte! Join the conversation by clicking on the link above. This month’s question: What do you love about the genre you write in most often?

I actually wrote about this a few weeks back: On Redemption Songs and Romance.

Besides romance, I also write cozy mysteries, meaning they’re set in a small town, and the sleuth is an amateur who relies on her relationships in said small town to solve the crime. What I love about mysteries is the knowledge that justice will prevail and the evildoers will get what’s coming to them. I also enjoy the puzzle aspect and the challenge of planting clues along the way. I’m currently working my latest cozy mystery (with strong romantic elements, because love makes me happy) through my critique group. It tickles me to no end to hear their theories about whodunit.

I also enjoy exploring humanity’s dark side, those murderous impulses we all have from time to time. Go on, admit it. Sometime, during the past month, you’ve mentally murdered someone, haven’t you? Especially if you’ve spent much time in traffic. I believe that each of us is capable of great good and ferocious evil, given the right circumstances. It’s fun to set up a situation in which someone who’s not normally a monster feels justified in killing a fellow human who’s done them wrong.

I’m not such a fan of thrillers involving actual monsters, human or otherwise, because I prefer characters I can relate to in some way.

I’m hoping my two main threads will merge into a line of schmexy romantic suspense novels. Sexual tension plus lurking malevolence, with a topping of righteous comeuppance–that equals a good read, as far as I’m concerned.

How about you? Do you enjoy a bit of murderous mayhem?

On Research Trips and Wanderlust

No, she’s not me. I wish I had this much hair.

One thing I love about reading is the ability it affords me to travel without leaving my comfy chair. Writing fiction set elsewhere is even more fun, allowing me to immerse myself in places I’d like to live, at least for a while, be they real or invented.

When starting the first book in my current romance series, I basically picked Eugene, Oregon, out of a hat. I was looking for a charming college town in which to set a quirky bookshop, and recalled hearing that Eugene, home of the University of Oregon, was just such a place. Why not choose the area around the University of Washington, only a 90-minute drive away? I really don’t know. Not different enough to be satisfying? Maybe it’s just my dislike of Seattle traffic that held me back. (So I drove four-plus hours to Eugene, because–logic.)

U of O’s Autzen Stadium

Anyway, I’ve just returned from my very first research trip for a book. Hubs was away for a golf-o-rama with his son, so I took advantage of this free time to go have a look at this setting I’d chosen without much forethought. Hours of looking at pictures, maps, and reading various blog posts helped, but this short visit (hopefully not my last) gave me a much better feel for the flavor of this culture-rich town. I had a lovely time, too, despite a brain-fuzzing head cold. There’s something refreshing about solo travel, especially being able to wander at my own pace and follow my own whims.

  Mural of Eugene’s Track and Field Stars, from 5th Street Public Market

My stories involve a bookstore, a lovely park, and a running club. Eugene is known as Track Town, USA, so running paths abound, especially in and around Alton Baker Park. I also needed alluring places for romantic dates, and charming, quirky neighborhoods.

I’ll send my characters here for some canoodling…

…and here for some canoeing. DeFazio Pedestrian Bridge, Alton Baker Park.

Mural of Ken Kesey in Springfield. I didn’t partake of any LSD on this trip, though I was pretty fuzzed-out on cold medicine.

I really must challenge myself to write a story set in Tacoma. The Gritty City would be a good setting for a tale of suspense, maybe something involving glass-blowing, an art form our city is famous for, thanks to Tacoma native Dale Chihuly.

Tacoma’s Union Station

Perhaps the urge to set a story elsewhere, rather than at home, is just human nature—the old greener-grass elsewhere syndrome. How about you? Do you tend to set your stories somewhere familiar, or further afield?