Tag Archives: chaos

Cozy Authors & Social Media

It seems to me that mystery books by cozy authors have become more and more popular among readers in the last few years. I am one of those readers and I love escaping to another world or hovering temporarily in a favorite character’s life where discoveries are made, problems are solved and often humor and lighthearted banter is exchanged. I enjoy pondering a good puzzle, perhaps learning something new, and knowing all will be wrapped up in the end for the protagonist(s). It’s comfort food to me.

I guess the key word here is “escape.” My experience with that word comes from a more than twenty-year career in the entertainment business as a belly dancer, doing mostly “belly-grams” to celebrate special occasions like a birthdays, anniversaries, get-wells, fare-wells, even family reunions. When I arrived on my job site, before I even left my car, I was in character and remained so until I returned home. Every detail was considered important to me, from my freshly laundered elaborate costumes to exciting Middle Eastern music on my boom box, and from immaculate fingernails to my beguiling smile. My 10 minute surprise dance routine was designed to involve many spectators beside the Guest of Honor, so no-one felt left out and it was conducted with class and meant to be good clean fun for all.

All through my career every time I left my house for any reason, I was aware there might be people (past or potential) who would see me and form an impression, so I always made sure I had my make-up on and my hair washed and clothing presentable. As it turned out, there were many, many times I was glad I had gotten in that habit, because I lived in a smaller city and worked full time and eventually became well known. I was proud of my reputation and had worked very hard to gain respect.

With all that said, since I’ve gone to a lot of writers’ conventions and conferences, I’ve met quite a few authors and many of them write cozies. The opinions I formed about these writers came from hearing them speak, perhaps on convention panels, and by reading their books. And often I associated them with their characters.

In days gone by, it used to be popular for authors to have their own website. Now days, group websites seem even more popular along with social media like Facebook. I follow authors through Goodreads and Amazon, but don’t have much time to go to Facebook unless there is a book giveaway by a specific author or authors. Twitter is just too much for me. I’m with Betty White!

Yesterday, I was visiting the website of one of my favorite authors, Molly Greene, and she wrote something that really spoke to me. She said, “Social media is a tough road right now, with the world upended and chaotic, and folks are understandably distraught and upset much of the time.”  This sentence explains so well why I read cozies. It’s the escape thing, so well said!

So I’ve actually been shocked lately to visit some of my favorite cozy writers’ Facebook pages for a giveaway offer or something, only to feel my escape mode splintering and being destroyed by negative remarks that have nothing to do with writing, cozy books or anything about their characters. I want to ESCAPE, not be drawn back into chaos. It’s become so upsetting to me, I’m thinking of dropping a couple of my favorite cozy authors for this very reason. Years ago I had an editor tell me that a certain sentence wording or something-or-other pulled them right out of my story. It’s the same thing. I feel yanked out of my cozy mood and thrust back into the “world and its troubles.” Authors are entertainers too, and I want to be entertained!

Am I alone? Are there others who feel this way, too? Let me know by leaving a comment below. If you can’t see the comments area, go up and click the title of the blog and it will refresh the page for comments. And have a comfortable, happy, cozy day.

 

Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland. Join her here each 11th of the month.

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Perpetual Motion by J J Dare

The perpetual motion of life is an interesting state of being. Even when we’re inert, such as in couch potato mode, life doesn’t stop revolving around us. Here’s how my life has twirled lately:

At home after the parade: The Boy & his Mardi Gras loot

The baby’s first Mardi Gras parade was last night. It was a small parade, kind of like a starter parade for him until he’s older and graduates to the wild and woolly ones in New Orleans. He hated it. The bands made him cry and the lights scared him. The father of a two-year old standing next to us said it takes awhile. The two-year old looked slightly bored. Regardless, it’s something The Boy will get used to – it’s in our blood to celebrate Mardi Gras loud and proud.

White Devil: caught!

The White Devil amused us for awhile when he jumped into a narrow box and couldn’t figure how to get out. Even though he’s so mean to the other animals in the house, I couldn’t let him suffer for long; how could I resist those eyes? After a few minutes I tipped the box over and let him crawl out with his kitty pride intact.

Soft lights of the city late at night

Late the other night, I was driving out of town and the mist on my windshield made the streetlights and stoplights soft and fuzzy. It served a dual purpose by making the song “Sister Christian” stick in my mind and reminding me I need to up the prescription in my glasses.

Other events:

A friend is divorcing her husband of ten years and was trying to figure the best way to tell her two young children that everything will be okay. She was emotionally bombed more by having to explain that Mommy and Daddy are divorcing than by the divorce itself. I gave her the only thing I can in situations like this: a sounding board. When my friend and her children’s father explained what was going on, her oldest child said, “Okay,” and went back to a game he was playing and the youngest asked if this meant he would get two deserts, one from each parent, after supper every night. Kids.

Another friend told me of a mutual friend’s recent accident. He was on the interstate and a board flew out of the truck ahead of him. He veered to the right to avoid it and ran into the car in the lane beside him. Had he veered to the left, he would have driven along the shoulder and not suffered a broken body that will take a long time and many operations to repair. But, he is alive and will heal and the other driver suffered only bruises. The jerk in the truck sped away. My friend and I talked about the split second choices we make so often during the course of a normal day and how these choices could easily turn a normal day into a devastating one. During my own life, I’ve tried to follow my own intuition – instead of ignoring the nagging in my head (go left – not right; turn on the next street – not this one; back up your files now – nah, don’t worry about it ‘cause your laptop won’t completely quit).

My laptop is still dead. Oh, woe is me. Although there are three computers in the house, I was incredibly lazy with a laptop. I could take it anywhere, including the couch in front of the television, and I could multitask. Of course, this was not always good when I was trying to write. I’m easily distracted at times. Now, I have to use a desktop in a dedicated area with no television and a door that shuts everyone out. Yay is me. I found a plus side to a laptop death.

I’m cycling through the writing phase again. I feel something creeping up and scratching at my creativity door. “Tell the story,” the insidious muse is whispering through a crack in the wood. “I’m too busy,” I reply. “You have time to do everything else. Let me in.” Since my own muse terrifies me at times, I think I’ll get back to some of my WIPs.

The world is perpetual chaos. Well, at least in my world. It’s been that way for as long as I can remember. Sometimes the chaos is happy chaos (weddings, births, frozen yogurt runs); sometimes it’s not so good. We’re not wired to live in a perfect state. Perfection, like absinthe, should be handled in small sips.

From my kids at Christmas. My family keeps me grounded in life

The bedlam in the lives of my characters mirrors my own life far too often, but, the chaos of perpetual motion is my drug of choice. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Now, it’s off to my next line of mischief. My grandson sounds like a raptor when he yells (and he yells when his diaper’s wet or his belly’s empty). We tell him his raptor buddies aren’t coming to save him but I think it’s time for him to learn something new. Since I taught my granddaughter a short bit from “Superstar,” I’ll teach my grandson the head bob from “Night at the Roxbury.” It’s never too early to learn classic cult movie scenes and who knows? Maybe his first words will be, “What is Love?”

Hehehe.

© SNL Studios SUPERSTAR!

J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and triple digit works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is sharpening intangible knives and co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch

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Balancing on the Beam by J J Dare

These past few days have been slightly more chaotic than my usual hectic weekends (and weekdays). I’m juggling sharing a car with my daughter while her car is out of commission for the next few weeks, I’m hosting Baby Boy’s grandfather from Arizona, I’m helping a kid move into an apartment, and all of the usual daily stuff involved in keeping a house, working, and helping with baby, cats and a dog.

Sometimes, I feel like a spinning dreidel. This weekend, definitely. From one thing to the next, these past few days have been non-stop. As I type this blog post, I’m doing it one-handed while holding a sleeping baby.

It’s amazing how quickly you learn to negotiate daily life with only one functioning arm. I’ve learned that I  can do almost anything one-handed. Occasionally, I’m not only one-handed, but I’m holding the bottle with my chin. I am the Cirque du Soleil of Baby World.

The cats and dog have been slightly miffed since the baby’s birth. None of the animals are number one, two and three anymore. There are two camps in my house now: Team Four-legged Daybreakers or Team Sweet Baby Nightwalker.

Baby Boy is nocturnal and his mother has the night shift, while I have the morning/day shift. Baby Boy’s father gets him for a couple of hours in the evening so we can take a few deep breaths.

Raising a child takes a village or at least a smitten grandmother. It’s similar to writing a book. When I write, instead of a child, I’m raising a story. Instead of a smitten grandparent, I’m an obsessed writer. The village consists of my editor, proofreader, publisher and readers.

When I’m writing, there are times I’m going here and there and trying to tie up all loose ends. I write on the fly, so chaos is my normal mode of operations. If I get stuck (like a car breaking down), I stop and try to fix what’s wrong.

Writing and raising children. So many differences, so many similarities.

And now for something different and long overdue:

I feel like I’m cheating on my pets. They are no longer Number One on my lap. Out of guilt, I promised to make them famous on WordPress, so here goes:

Pet Collage

Neglected ( or so they think) Pet Collage

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J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and triple digit works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is sharpening intangible knives and co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch

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Tripping Down Memory Lane

Everything I write has a memory connected to it. Like a retro song heard on an oldies station, words I’ve put on paper evoke where I was at the time I wrote them.

Some of my earliest writings as an adult were done when my kids were young. As a young widowed mother with two early elementary children, I can see the emotions of that time coming out in some of my words. The overprotective nature of my parenting shows very clearly. The sorrow of the time does, too.

Moving on as my two rugrats emerge into their rebellious teens, my writing takes a sharper turn. It was like I channeled their angst into my own stories. Their teenage search for identities became a focal point in my tales by way of the confusion of a flawed protagonist.

During that same time, I went back to school for my degree. I’d never really questioned my beliefs, but something about college, even when you’re sort of all grown up, something about the atmosphere makes you wonder about the world beyond the one you’ve been taught. I questioned, I stopped believing in certain things, and formed my own opinion. This time reflects in a slightly agnostic tone in many of my stories from those years.

An upheaval in my extended family shows in the style of my writing during the early 2000’s. Chaos was king during that time. Situations were masked and nothing was as it seemed. The world was not what it looked like – an undercurrent of unease ran through my tales.

Over the past few years, a grimness pervaded my words. I look back now and realize it was precognitive. I was being prepared, through a type of emotional channeling, for the worst year of my life. I can’t say whether this was a good or bad thing, this precursor of events to come; it simply was.

Last year, I wrote with a heavy heart and the common theme was untimely death. My nonstop grief was evident. Some of those writings are locked away; I recall them, but I never want to look at the words I put on paper. I’m afraid I’ll unleash a monster that will sweep over me and drag me in the wake of despair.

Today is another day, however. I will write. It’s a part of me and, although I’ll always immortalize my own feelings through my writing, it won’t stop me. I refuse to let my writing cripple me; instead, I will embrace it, pat its back and send it on its way.

Whether you’re writing or reading, do you remember where you were in your life when you look back over stories you’ve written or read? Please share some of your textual milestones.

J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and about thirty works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch

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