Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Remembrance of Sherlock Holmes

By K. L. Bridgewater

During my last semester as an undergraduate at Indiana State University, one of my college professors had the class writing six different essays from six different literary theories. Feminist. New Criticism. Biographical. Historical. And a couple more I don’t remember. But the one thing I do remember is having to analyze The Great Gatsby six different ways. Boy, do I hate that book. Still today, I won’t watch the movie or glance at the book, sitting on my shelf next to To Kill a Mockingbird, which I absolutely adore.

To break the time from reading that horrible book written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, my professor mentioned she was currently reading The Complete Sherlock Holmes. Being someone who had never read any of the Sherlock Holmes’ stories, I always wanted to read them. So I went to the local library and borrowed them. I quickly devoured the tales by Arthur Conan Doyle written over a hundred years ago. Now, I watch anything to do with Sherlock Holmes, especially the latest BBC version. Soooo great.

Product DetailsAfter receiving a complimentary copy of Murder at the Mikado, I tore through the book in one evening. Enjoying the first two books, Rules of Murder and Death by the Book, I was really excited when Bethany House offered a free copy of me to review and talk about.

If you are a fan of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, then I suggest you pick up this book. It is a good mystery with believable characters. Even though Drew Farthering has money, he helps a little boy whose mother has been fingered as the suspect. The story features Drew, a young sleuth, with his two side-kicks, Madeline Parker, his fiancée, and Nick, his boyhood friend. Madeline and Drew’s wedding is in three weeks and in walks Fleur Landis, Drew’s old flame, asking him for help to free her.

To make matters worse, Drew believes Fleur and Mr. Landis’s son, Peter, does not look like Mr. Landis, but the man, Mr. Ravenswood, who was supposedly murdered by Fleur.

The story uses old clever knowledge and examination of the crime scenes to hunt for evidence. Drew and Madeline question the members of the theater troupe to discover the inter-tangle of relationships, causing in jealousy and revenge exploding all over the backstage at the Tivoli Theater. 

The plot even features an actual police officer, Chief Inspector Birdsong, who reminds me a lot of Inspector Lestrade, Cunning, yet totally dependent on Drew Farthering to notice the overlook clues by the local police.

Not going to spoil the plot and tell the ending. You have to read the book for yourself to find out who killed Mr. Ravenswood. But it’s good.

Murder at the Mikado features a heart racing mystery with a hint of romance populated with real life characters all playing a part in Julianna Deering’s mind. The story gave me the great sense of accomplishment I received after finishing Arthur Conan Doyle’s masterpieces. I just hope readers still enjoy Julianna Deering’s creations a hundred years from now. I know I sure did.

If you’ve read the book, did it remind you of Sherlock Holmes? If you never drew the connection before, what did I mention that made you think of that?  Feel free to leave a comment below, stating your feeling of the book or of my analysis. 

I received a complimentary copy of Murder at Mikado from Bethany House in exchange for my honest opinion. All the statements above are mine. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cozy Mysteries

By K. L. Bridgewater

Growing up as a young child in the eighties and coming of age in the nineties, I would spend all summer chasing the sunlight, playing with my friends while we used our imagination and running around the neighborhood. Mom would never let us stay inside when the sun streamed in the window and the heat baked us by the day. But when Mom did allow us to linger in the house, we were allowed to watch one hour of television. It was usually Matlock with Andy Griffith or Murder, She Wrote with Angela Lansbury. You know, those hour long shows that were the precursor to CSI, Castle, and Law and Order. The movie started with someone getting killed. Either someone comes across a dead body at work or the viewer hears a gun shot as they see a black gloved hand holding gun while pointing it at someone across the room. Then the rest of the episode features Ben Matlock running around with his associates, watching people and questioning people who could have been related.

This might have been my introductions to TV crime shows. Still today, I watch them and enjoy trying to solve the murder before the television cast does. My husband doesn't like those types of shows and always shakes his head when he comes in and I'm engrossed in the latest episode. Reading suspense as my chosen genre. It makes sense that I gravitate writing in the suspense genre.

Product DetailsHowever, Revell publishing gave me a complimentary copy of Lorena McCourtney's latest book Death Takes a Ride. It fits along the cozy mystery line of books. Cate Kincaid is an amateur private investigator, who took the position to help her Uncle Joe when he ended up in the hospital, and she was currently unemployed. As the third book in the series, she has enjoyed being a private investigator. In this book, she actually earns her Private Investigator license, and Uncle Joe writes the company into her name.

The character of Cate Kincaid is totally believable as a cozy mysteries PI. She fumbles around and comes up with a number of different excuses internally to explain her presence while snooping at a person of interest's house. I enjoyed how McCourtney gave her quirks. Cate is not all confident in her relationship with Mitch and doubts her intentions.  Very believable.

Likewise, the plot of the story read like an episode of Matlock. The story starts off with Cate Kincaid going to a warehouse late at night to pick someone up for a church event, but in the process of waiting, a gun shot echoes through the tin warehouse. At first, the murder seems cut and dry, but as we follow Cate along as she questions different people, we realize they're might be more to the case.

I enjoyed the book as my first introduction to Lorena McCourtney's book. It made me nostalgia for the television mysteries that introduced me to crime shows. I want to go out and purchase her other books and read them now. Thank you, Lorena McCourtney. As if my to-be read pile wasn't high enough. Now I have to go and add some more books.

Do you read cozy mysteries? Why not try Lorena McCourtney. She deserves more gusto for her books. If you watch crime shows, what was the first crime show you ever watched?

I received a complimentary copy of Death Takes a Ride from Revell Publishing. All my opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My Writing Process: Blog Hop

By K. L. Bridgewater

I was invited by the sweet Emilie Hendryx (whom I had the privilege of meeting at the 2013 ACFW conference in Indianapolis) to join a blog hop. You can see her previous post at www.eahendryx.blogspot.com.

Today I’ll be talking about my writing process and answering four questions. I’m pretty excited to be asked to join, and I hope you learn something more about me as a writer.

1.) What am I currently working on?

          I am working on developing the characters and the twists and dangers for my heroine and hero in a three part book series. The series features Chloe Walker and Devin Sanders, who will be featured in a couple of my future blog entries, so make sure you return to learn more about them. I usually start with an idea of how my book will turn out, but as I write, however, I learn my book wants to head in a different direction, so I steer off course from my outline. Mostly, for the better.

2.)    How does my work differ from others in its genre?

             That’s a good question. I don’t really think I have a good answer. I write suspense with a hint of     romance. But I want my story to focus on the mystery. The romance is important to the hero and heroine, but I don’t want the readers to walk away with a deep sigh of romance contentment like readers of romance do. My overall goal is to have the readers gasp and flip the pages because they can’t put the book down because so much happens to the characters and the readers worry about what happens. I’m sure every suspense writer feels the same way. My story idea is unique but mixes the police with an amateur sleuth working together to solve a dilemma.

3.)    Why do I write what I do?

I write romantic suspense because I love action movies like Fast and Furious, Transformers, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, etc.  As a young girl, I read every Nancy Drew book by Carolyn Keene I could uncover at the local library. Additionally, I enjoy books filled with action, twists, and mystery. I follow the clues presented in the story with hopes of discovering the villain before the end. Dee Henderson introduced me to the Christian suspense genre, and I was hooked. Enjoying these books, I have decided to write my own. Creating the element of surprise prickles my skin as I uncover something new about the plot that I didn’t plan originally.

4.)    How does your writing process work?

I discussed this very issue on my blog post for Tuesday, July 8, 2014. Majority of the time my ideas come to me as an ending. I don’t know what the characters look like. I don’t even know the theme. The ending pops in my head, and I sit down and write the ending, which causes the skin on my arm to grow big enough goosebumps to put someone’s eyeballs out.  So after the last quarter of the novel is written, I usually try to develop my characters with their big lies and their backstory. Then I weave in elements to bring the first quarter of the story to life.

Well, thanks for stopping by the blog. Unfortunately, all my writer friends have already done this, or who I have asked where too busy, or some didn't even reply. So I have no one for you to hop on over and look at their writing process.  

How does your writing process work? Do you see the ending like I do or do the characters or theme walk in front of you? Please comment on how you do write.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Story Ideas

By K. L. Bridgewater Every writer has been asked, “Where do you find your ideas?” I pondered that question lately as I read On Writing by Stephen King ( a great writing book, by the way). Where do my ideas come from? Do I think of characters first? Does my character walk in front of me and sit down to start discussing her life story? Does the setting materialize out of nothing, begging to make an appearance on my page? Do clichés and metaphors jump around clinging to descriptions, trying to make the action more realistic for the reader? Actually, sounds good. But no. When I write, the ending usually appears first. Sounds odd, I know. But since I write suspense, this usually helps because my endings are usually the first thing I write. The last third of the book pumps me up as I write the final black moment of my protagonist and antagonist’s existence as they figure out who wants them out of the picture and how to stop them. I love writing the high tension moments, which helps when I try to fill in the other parts of the first third of the book because I need more and more tension. I enjoy tightening the knot on the characters and watching them squirm. Every time something bad happens, I become happy. I even am happy when I write in the voice or mind of the killer. Because I don’t act like that in real person, it is kinda fun to think how would someone actually feel as they do harmful things to others. I mean, how could you kill someone because you were jealous and wanted revenge? How could you run someone off the road, knowing they might die? One of my weakness I have discovered (which a couple of contests recently have varied) is my ability to characterize. I have all the tension to make a good story, but I don’t jump into the skin of my hero and heroine and feel their emotions throughout the story. Recently, I purchased Characters, Emotions, and Viewpoint by Nancy Kress, hoping to learn something to improve my characters. I still enjoy the high action endings, where I throw in a twist to confuse the readers. In my three part story, which I’m still in the process of developing, I know the ending to all three books. They are intertwined, and the readers needs to read them in order, or it will spoil the final twist in the novel. I have the endings planned out for each book. I have a couple of number of twists in each book, and I know how to tighten the knot in each book, but I’m still trying to have Devin and Chloe talk to me, so I can understand their motivations. What part of your story comes first when you are writing? Is there any aspect of writing that you struggle with? How are you trying to fix this dilemma?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Fourth: Memories or Writing

By K. L. Bridgewater

As the traditional late night explosion of summer breathes down our neck, I was wondering if writing would have to take a break on this extended three day weekend. Since the Fourth falls on a Friday, most people will have the complete weekend off. Writing something every day, even if it has been only for an hour, has become a habit of mine. I wake up, read the Bible, have breakfast, or at least, prepare breakfast for three boys while shoveling bites of yogurt and fruit into my mouth, exercise for thirty minutes, then sit down to write, hopefully without any interruptions, for a total of an hour.

Since Friday this week includes the holiday, I don't know if writing will actually occur. My husband will be at Audiofeed with our middle son, and I will still have the youngest and oldest to watch. For dinner, I will go to my in-laws house for a cookout and then head to the Wabash River to watch the fireworks. With all the preparations and visiting with family, I wondered if I will have time to squeeze in any time for writing.

But I have decided that I may not move further along in my novel planning for Devin and Chloe's story, however, I plan to spend the time focusing on making memories with my children. Because my oldest is almost 13 and going to start 7th grade this fall, my moments with him are becoming limited. Gone are the nights of chasing fireflies after dark and counting the stars as they appear in God's dark blanket.  I plan to still do those traditions with him and the other two boys until they grow out of wanting to hang out with mom.

This year, I will observe my children's reaction and listen to their laughter as they run around the yard, looking for that familiar flickering yellow light, signaling a firefly. Paying attention to their movements and mannerisms may help me create more realistic characters for my story. I'll focus in on the discussions around the barbeque table, hunting for a sub-story I could use in one of my novels. Instead of talking, I enjoy people watching. Makes me appear to be shy but I think it makes me a better writer.

So for this Fourth of July, I won't have to put my writing on hold. I'll just observe the world around me and take mental notes of the laughter of children and the gossip floating around the food.

I hope you have a blessed Fourth of July and remember the reason America is such a great country.

Do you have ways of balancing celebrating the holiday and writing? Are you a people watcher or a talker at family gatherings?  Has an idea occurred to you when surrounded by people you love?