Thursday, November 28, 2013

A quick review: Artful Dodging

I am a die hard book junkie.  There is no cure, not that I would ever want one. For as long as I can remember, I've always been an avid reader.  While occasionally I'll dip my toe into unfamiliar subject matter, I'm quick to grab a thriller or mystery.  It's not unusual for me to get caught up in a series or want to read other works by an author I enjoy. 

When trying a new author, I'll give it an honest read. But if they haven't caught my interest within the first twenty pages, I may dump the book. Occasionally, I may find the setting, dialogue or characters unappealing and will catch myself not paying attention.

This was not the case with "Artful Dodging: The Torpedo Factory Murders" by M.S. Spencer.  Having read one of Spencer's other works recently, I was looking forward to this one.  Spencer weaves a good story, with an abundance of remarkable characters. The story takes place in Virginia, with most of the action occurring in the actual World War II torpedo factory which has been converted into artist studios.  Spencer wastes no time blending personal and professional conflicts, with flashes of jealousy, intrigue and deception.  Mix in a dash of the local scenery, various culinary delights and the right amount of passionate interludes and you've got a fast paced, engaging tale.

Now, one thing that Spencer and I share is the fun of creating memorable and meaningful character names. The heroine in this novel is named Milo. I must admit that's the first time I've seen it used for a female. But based on the description, her attitudes and behavior, Milo quickly became a woman that got my attention. It's easy to see why her romantic interest found her so irresistible. Like many authors, I wouldn't be surprised if some of the traits that make Milo such a great character were taken directly from the author.

Just to add a little irony here, my current work in progress, which has the temporary title of "Fleeing Beauty"
is the third book in the Jamie Richmond series. The story centers around the discovery of a storeroom filled with sculptures created by Jamie's late father. I'm basing details about the studio and storeroom on a smaller scale version of the Torpedo Factory, set in the Detroit area.  There are a number of old factories that have been converted into lofts and galleries. While I've had this idea for some time, it was ironic that Spencer's novel describes not only a similar locale for artists, but captured much of the same elements of the characters with a touch of that Bohemian lifestyle that I've been looking forward.

You can find "Artful Dodging" at the links below.

I'd give this book 4 stars.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Take a chance

Today I'm a guest on Dawn's Reading Nook, talking about writing and the relationships between characters. You can also find out more about my muse, that insistent sprite that follows me everywhere and some of the crazy ideas that she brings forth.

Last night I was at a fundraising event for a local charity. As one of the auction items, I had donated print copies of my two Jamie Richmond mysteries. To sweeten the deal, I offered to let the winner give me the name for a character in the third book in the series, which I'm currently writing.  I will determine whether the name becomes a crook, a sidekick, a new friend of Jamie's or someone making a cameo appearance.
I don't know who won the prize, so I have no idea what name I'll be given to include in the story.

But my question to you is, if you were the winner, what name would you like to see in print? Would it be an old lover, a favorite relative, someone you've always had a secret crush on, or a combination of people?

Give me a name and tell me why. I'll pick the best one and the winner will get to pick an electronic copy of any of my four novels:  "Desperate Measures"  "Devious"  "Fade Away" or "Vanishing Act"

Friday, November 8, 2013

What's in a Name?

There is an old adage that I think is credited to Henry Ford.  "Never complain, never explain".  I'm not sure how that applies but I've been remiss in posting anything for more time than I care to admit. I'm determined to post more frequently, it just becomes a matter of time.

Writing is still one of my passions. It's something I truly enjoy doing and while I may not be able to get in front of the keyboard on a daily basis, I don't think you ever really stop writing.  I find myself working on dialogue or plot twists while I'm driving, hiking the trails or sitting on hold.  And I'm a firm believer that inspiration can strike anywhere, any time.  Recently I was in the grocery store, wandering through aisles looking for a few elusive ingredients when an idea struck.  Imagine writing a parody or humorous piece about cooking. You could name all your characters after ingredients or spices.  Cory Ander, Mar Joram, Rosemary Sage and more.

Which brings me to names. Coming up with creative names for your characters can be a trick, but it can be such a blast, especially when the readers catch on.  The very talented M S Spencer does this with subtle style.

Today I'm a guest author on the Savvy Author blog, talking about character names. Stop by and see what you think.  And if you have any ideas for clever names, I'd love to hear them.