Monday, July 30, 2012


    As a mystery writer I write fiction.  So does that mean the places where my crimes take place are fictional?  Not always.  Does it mean the crime that takes place is fictional? Not always.  Does it mean my characters are fictional?  Not always. 
    Therein lies my dilemma.  My first book, Tryst with Dolphins had real people with fictional names, well parts of their names were fictional.  Then their personalities were a mixture of fact and fiction.  The plot and the crime were fictional, but somehow real in my mind.  
     Then to add to my confusion I met the real life Detective Karst when I asked him to check my police protocol.  Which he did, quite nicely I might add.  As a fun thing to do I used his name as one of the detectives.  His eyes sparkled and he chuckled when he saw it.  I asked if that was okay and he could see no reason to change it.  
     In the sequel, Dolphins' Echo, I brought him to center stage as the lead investigator.  I introduced him to my readers in a more personal way.  I was writing fiction, or so I thought, until he felt uneasy that I was hitting right on with so many things he would say or do.  So does that mean I was writing fact?  Was it still okay?
     By the third book, Death Foreshadowed,  his character was gaining popularity and his fan mail began to arrive.  His partner, Bill Thompson, was not spotlighted in such a favorable light.  A pudgy, sloppy, balding, guy but a good cop.  
    Enter a new character, Jennifer Parker, to rock the boat in the third book.  Jennifer is a psychic that Detective Karst's sergeant forced him to work with.  The two got along famously.  Many readers thought there could be a budding romance between the hunky detective and the sophisticated and extremely proper psychic.
    Jennifer began to receive fan mail soon after the release of that book.  And, Detective Karst began to call on her for help with particularly difficult cases when they had no leads.
    As the years have moved forward and I continue to write the Elusive Clue Series, I'll find myself asking Karst how he felt when something happened or why he's questioning something when he was the one on the case and he must remind me that it didn't happen in real life it was in the book.  
    One time I asked if Bill was offended by my description of him and his sloppy ways.  Again, he reminded me that Bill was 100% fictional.  He had never met or worked with Bill Thompson except in the books. 
    I was jolted back to reality.  Throughout the remainder of my titles I still mix real and fictional characters and they are all real to me.  
    My readers have fallen in love with Jennifer Parker and asked to learn more about her.  I also discovered that teenagers were reading my books and loving them.  So I wrote Psychic Genes as a cross-over book with teenage characters added to the story.  I introduce Jennifer Parker's family and much of her family history.  
     Okay, so now I should have it straight in my mind who is who, the real and the fictional....not quite.  I punished myself once again by using my granddaughter's friend, Shayne Hartley, as the lead character and Jennifer's niece.  
     So the "real" Detective Karst, the fictional, Jennifer Parker, the "real" Shayne, but her character is fictional as is her family and the crime.  
    Then to confuse myself even further I decided to use photographs of the family on the cover....what family?  They don't exist.  Well, Shayne does but the story is fictional.  I found people to pose for my characters and now when I look at the cover those people are the real characters in my mind.  So they are real, right?
    Ask any writer who writes a series and they'll tell you their characters are real to them.  But I'll bet they don't throw in real people, real names, and real places mixed in with the fictional to drive themselves crazy.
   I just released Psychic Genes on kindle this past week and the print book will be out in September.  I look at the cover and I remind myself it's fiction, it's all fiction.  The stories and the characters are figments of my imagination.  
   Then on my way to a doctor's appointment last week, I happened to look over and stopped at a stop-sign, was a big black mean looking pickup with Detective Karst behind the wheel.  Am I hallucinating?  No.  Detective Karst moved away from his high pressure job in Denver to the quiet country setting in my community.  But it was the first time I just spotted him without plans to go to lunch, or a booksigning, or some other personal reason.  He's now part of the community and I imagine he will continue to pop into view on occasion.  But then I have to ask myself what case is he working on here and what homicide should I know about.
    I'm so confused!!!!!!


Saturday, July 7, 2012 you hear it?

There it is, listen carefully.  As a mystery writer my mind always races to add a story to every sound, every movement, every feeling.  This morning as I lay in bed I heard the distinct sound of a door slamming and someone walking across the floor.  

What I have been hearing for the past four days has been the sound of silence.  That's right silence.  Does silence have a sound?  Yes, it's loud and clear.  Why would I be hearing it?  Because I missed it for awhile.  You see we live alone other than our house cat, Echo, and our three westies, Tucker, Watson, and Emily.  My husband and I can wander through our large house in total silence if we choose.  Sometimes silence can be deafening, but now it is a welcomed sound.

Why?  Our daughter just moved across the country and we had three of her six kids here for almost two weeks.  Then she arrived with the rest of her crew.  Can you honestly imagine how many aspirin the walls of this, over-one- hundred-year-old, house consumed after the sound of silence was disturbed by so many kids ranging from one year to fifteen?  

Believe it or not, my husband and I actually enjoyed it, glad it's over,  but enjoyed it.  Well, not every minute of it but most of it.  

It all began when the first wave of kids arrived.  They traveled in a Sequoia with eight westies (from her kennel), two housedogs, one who looked dangerously exactly like a coyote, three kids and one chicken, who actually laid an egg during the 25 hour straight-through drive from their door to ours.  

The first night there was the six-year-old who lost her dinner in bed while she was asleep.  Long, brown hair tangled with smelly vomit met us at the breakfast table.  But hey, we've had three of our own, so no big deal.  

The three-year-old was an escape artist and we found her wandering dangerously close to our duck pond.  Tightened security on the gates took care of that. 

The coyote-dog, could also escape over, under, and through any fencing.  My chickens would squawk and scatter as she ran playfully through them.  They also thought she was a coyote.  

The twelve-year-old boy, devoured food faster than we could set it out.  Have you ever watched a child eat twelve bananas at one sitting?

Food was an issue, how much to prepare, how much to buy, and how much gets devoured.  We had our own three kids spaced pretty far apart so we never actually had a tribe like this to deal with. 

The two older ones were happy to chat, watch tv, and work on art projects.  That part was easy.  But to have a three-year-old again was the toughest.  

Aside from heightened security, there was the odd habit she had of hiding things---my phone, my hairbrush, the locks to the gates, if they were not properly attached.  When asked if she saw them she'd always respond with a quick, "No."  Then miraculously in just a few minutes she would put her sleuthing skills to the test and voila' she would find the missing articles and demand praise for doing so.  Ah....but her grandmother works with a real sleuth, Detective Karst, and I could see right through her deception.

It's miller moth and fly season here.  Can you imagine three kids armed with fly swatters and all the bug guts smeared across three picture windows.  Not a pretty sight.  

Our lower level bathroom is a bit touchy, so I told the kids it's off limits, use the other.   One day after working in the kennel, in this ridiculously hot summer weather, I returned to the house with a headache and told the kids I needed to lie down in a dark room for an hour.  Two minutes later in pops the three year old.  "I need to go to the bathroom," she says.
"Then go," I responded.  
"I can't someone is using it, and I have to go right now."
"Just use mine then," I responded while holding my head.  
I can't say my hour was restful.  Kids have a way of knowing when you need silence and that's when they argue and tease the most.  I could hear them in the room above me.  A room they are NEVER in, except for the fact that I was below them trying to find peace.  

I had enough.  I threw my legs over the edge of the bed to rush upstairs to scold them only to hear and feel the cold splashing sound of water.  She had used too much toilet paper and I now had rushing water racing to fill every inch of my bedroom, down the hall, and making its way to my family room!

Two hours later the twelve year old and I had wiped up the last of it.  Only to hear the three year old screaming out in pain.  I raced up the stairs and found her sitting on the floor holding her lip.  There was the tiniest scratch on it, but it did look painful.  I instantly assumed that she had once again been tormenting my cat even though she had been warned repeatedly not to.  
"Were you picking on Echo again?" I asked.  
"No," she responded quietly.  "It was a tiger that scratched me."

I had to call my husband to find animal control to search our Nebraska farm for a loose tiger! 

They moved on to their final destination at the other end of the state four days ago and the silence has returned.  The motors on the washer, dryer, and dishwasher are now cool enough to touch and the guest room, given enough time, may lose the smell of a twelve year old boy who may not shower quite as often as necessary.  

Oh, and the sound I heard this morning, the slamming door and the heavy footsteps above us, were nothing more than Echo jumping down from a shelf in the bathroom and racing across the tiled floor with the sheer joy a cat feels when the house belongs to her again!