I am way stoked to have with us today author of crime caper novels Gretchen Archer, who publishes with groovy mystery publisher Henery Press. Now, I love me a good caper (whether crime or the little green things you add to delicious dishes), so I was pretty excited that Gretchen wanted to blog with us. She offers some most excellent advice for writers and also provides an excerpt from Double Strike, the latest in her hilarious, well-paced Davis Way series which JUST RELEASED, LIKE, THREE DAYS AGO! That is some seriously HOT OFF THE PRESS, friends.
Anyway, here’s a bit from the Amazon synopsis of Double Strike: “Bellissimo Resort and Casino Super Spy Davis Way knows three things: Cooking isn’t a prerequisite for a happy marriage, don’t trust men who look like David Hasselhoff, and money doesn’t grow on Christmas trees. None of which help when a storm hits the Gulf a week before the most anticipated event in Bellissimo history: the Strike It Rich Sweepstakes. Securing the guests, staff, and property might take a stray bullet. Or two.”
AND GUESS WHAT! Gretchen is also going to give away one print or ebook copy of DOUBLE STRIKE! (NOTE: U.S. and Canada only for the print). If you’d like in on this deliciousness, and you want to follow Davis on her latest escapade at the nutty Bellissimo Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, leave a comment right here on the blog. Make sure you include your email address in the comment fill-out form below (do NOT put it in the comment body — we are hard at work ensuring the asshat spammer bots from parts unknown don’t get your email address). We’ll draw a winner on TUESDAY, OCTOBER 28 AT 9 PM EST.
All right, friends. Please welcome author Gretchen Archer!
Getting our (crime) capers on with Gretchen Archer
I heard it in a workshop at a Romance Writers of America conference in Atlanta: If you can’t reduce your work to one sentence, stop writing until you can. The speaker wasn’t talking about a tag line or an elevator pitch. She was saying if you can’t get to the bones of your own work, what you are trying to say, give it up. Disclaimer: I don’t write romance. My agent makes me go to RWA.
The room was a football field, sold-out game. I don’t remember the speaker’s name; it was early; we’d been over-served in the lobby bar the night before. (My friend and I were in the back of the room, both of us wearing sunglasses, and I remember holding a bottle of ice water to my head.) (Conferences, geesh.) She went on to explain: Reduce your work to one single thought, and if you can’t, stop what you’re doing until you can. I knew, I knew, I knew exactly what she was talking about, I knew exactly what was missing in so many books I’d read, and I had my writing boiled down to a few simple words before she finished the thought: You can’t have something for nothing. That’s what I write about. It’s just that simple. You’d never believe it, to look at my covers, how my books are shelved, categorized (Humorous Mysteries), even the demographic of who reads me, that there’s something between the covers I really want to say. Sidenote: it’s one in a hundred reviewers, casual and pro, who catch it. When it happens, it makes my day, my world.
In Double Whammy, my first, I said, in addition to My Sentence, this: You can get past your mistakes and succeed. In Double Dip, I presented this simple thought: Don’t prey on the weak. And in Double Strike, my latest, releasing on 10.21.14, it’s this: Don’t discriminate. Just don’t.
I hold my breath turning in manuscripts, waiting to hear the big no. There’s no place in cozy mysteries for teen pregnancy, drug addiction, miscarriage, elder abuse, race and same-sex couple discrimination. Go back in and change it all to cupcakes and kittens. Somehow, my rants have all managed to see the dark of print, including, below, this excerpt from Double Strike, which came with a warning as it was blessed for publication, “You’ll never be able to go to Alabama again. Someone will shoot you.”
What do you write? Take it down to a sentence. What is it you’re trying to say?
EXCERPT, DOUBLE STRIKE
Alabama, the Heart of Dixie, for the most part, is nervous. As if at any moment the Civil War might start up again, and the state, itching for a do-over, stays at the ready. There are great things about Alabama — my family, Nat King Cole was from Alabama, and the infamous words, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” were spoken at the Battle of Mobile in 1864. A proud moment in Alabama history. It’s no secret that the state flag was designed to complement the Confederate flag, and has never been changed. Alabamians won’t hear of it. It can be found flying high and proud, flagpole to flagpole beside its inspiration, in each and every one of the sixty-seven counties. So you see the prevailing mindset: The South shall rise again.
Alabama is also a state full of extremists. We have religious extremists, environmental extremists, and political extremists. And we have more than our share of residents who are adamantly opposed to many many issues: paternity tests, nuclear weapons, copyright laws, speed limits, Google, drones, property lines, socialism, fuel prices, Al Gore, dental hygiene, and Chick-fil-A being closed on Sunday. Take all this protest and factor in the races Alabama’s not winning. If not dead last, we’re sure gunning for it, in obesity, unemployment, overall health, poverty, teen pregnancy, high-school dropout rate, and minimum wage. The result? Overweight, unemployed, sick, uneducated, flat-broke citizens who are mad about everything. Put five million of these people in one place, and there might be a little trouble. Things looked, for the most part, ordinary in Alabama — schools, churches, Target Super Stores. But beneath the whisper-thin veneer of civilized society lurks a fat, broke, opinionated beast, who doesn’t see the glass half full, and expects, maybe even eagerly anticipates, the worst. More than half of Alabama residents have registered firearms. The other half, and I know this for a fact, have unregistered firearms, mostly of the sawed-off variety. Alabama is locked and loaded. “It’s on!” says Alabama. About everything.
None of this applies to football. Alabama football fans are an extremist group all their own, the most vocal and violent of all the extremist groups in the state, and that’s a whole different story.
So when I found Walter Shaefer, then I lost Walter Shaefer, then I found him again, then I lost him for good, being from Alabama, knowing how Alabamians operate, I had a pretty good idea where he was hiding.
This excerpt is taken from Double Strike: A Davis Way Crime Caper, copyright © 2014 by Gretchen Archer.
Reproduced with permission from the author.
Happy Friday, everybody!