Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Writing Process Blog Tour - Betsy Ashton

My incredibly talented writer friend, Maggie King, author of Murder at the Book Group, and contributor to Virginia Is for Mysteries, tossed me the baton for the Writing Process Blog Tour. Does that mean I can sit back and think cute thoughts? No, it means I have to answer four very ordinary questions.

1. What am I working on? 
Heck, how does any writer answer that question? I always have at least three works in process. Right now, my second edition in the Mad Max series is with my agent for final edits before it goes to my publisher. This one has a working title of Uncharted Territory. It's locked for now, so I turned to two other projects. I'm workshopping my serial killer psychological crime story with a few trusted beta readers, while doing a ton of research on viruses and plagues for the third Mad Max entry. Plus I charted out two novellas in the mystery/crime genre.

2. Why do I write what I write? 
I write because I breathe. It's as simple as that. I love to write about strong women who aren't cute and in their twenties. Max is in her fifties, still sexy, still rich, still interesting. The killer is younger and deeply troubled about her calling in life, which is to kill people who she feels need killing. So, I write what I want to know about, because I certainly don't have first-hand knowledge about killing people. Or do I?

3. How does my work differ from others in the genre? 
I drive my agent nuts, because my mysteries don't start with a crime. No murders, no robberies right away. I start in the main character's head and examine what makes they do what they do. So, I don't spend a lot of time worrying about the narrower rules of a genre. Psychological fiction appeals to me, the darker the better. Even when my main character isn't dark, and Max is anything but dark, I surround her with evil and conflict so that she can grow. Some readers might be disappointed because I'm not "like" <fill in the name of a prominent mystery/crime writer here>. Yup. That's true. Sobeit.

4. What is my writing process? 
I plant my butt on my ball at my desk seven days a week. Yes, I sit on a balance ball instead of in a chair. I often edit hard copy standing at my breakfast bar. I work on something, even if it's bad, every day, usually for 4-5 hours at a stroke. I treat writing as my career, which it is since I retired from earning a paycheck. I rise, shower, dress and put on makeup as if I were going to an office. Discipline keeps me focused on the job at hand, to wit, churning out words, some of which might actually work. Others might be keepers. Still others are terrific except not where they are or in the manuscript where I think they'll be perfect. No bunny slippers, no pajamas. I do take time out to feed my stuffed llama and a thread-bare bear. Otherwise, they'll eat me alive.

I'm passing the baton to Kimberly Dalferes, author of I Was In Love With A Short Man Once, Mary Billiter, author of The XYZ Affair and Susan Union, author of Rode to Death, a mystery set on a horse ranch near San Diego and is the first in the Randi Sterling Mystery Series. 

I'll let each of these ladies tell you about themselves.

I can't wait to see what each of these ladies write about. And thanks to Maggie King for inviting me to hop on this tour.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Book Review: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

The Glass CastleThe Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've read the gushing and less than gushing reviews of The Glass Castle both here and on Amazon. I fall somewhere in between.

Walls' voice is funny but it's not original. Yes, she writes with a Southern accent (without writing in dialect). It's easy to read and enjoy.

Her story, however, breaks no new ground. She calls this a memoir. As such it should be relatively truthful. As a few reviewers have mentioned, the early act of a three-year-old boiling hot dogs defies credibility. Still, it's her memory and maybe it didn't happen at three but later. Or maybe she heard enough stories about it to "remember" it herself.

Her dysfunctional family, while entertaining, is just about as dysfunctional as Frank McCourt's family in Angela's Ashes. I found myself wishing the old man would skedaddle and never come back. An amoral alcoholic father who thinks nothing of pimping out the narrator was almost enough to make me stop reading.

What made me question whether this was a novel or a memoir came when I went to Google Maps to check on the house on Little Hobart St. Walls makes a huge deal over the house, how you had to climb rotting stairs, shinny out the back window to get up the mountain behind the house. Granted in Google Maps the house is as it stands today. Brick. No steep steps from street to rotting front porch. In fact the house is at street level. No mountain behind it.

I hoped for more authenticity. Not sure if I'll read anything else by Walls except maybe a novel.

View all my reviews