I’m so happy to be here at Shelley’s Book Case today. Thank you, Shelley for having me and thanks to all the readers who’re sharing part of your day with me. Don’t forget to sign up for the weeklong Gift Box Giveaway featuring a delish chocolate-cherry cake recipe, accompanying chocolates, an autographed copy of my book MURDER, MAYHEM AND BLISS, stemmed crystal wineglasses and a vintage Fostoria Baroque Meadow Rose cake plate.
Since Jesse Camden, the main character in my Myrtle Grove Garden Club mystery series, is co-owner of an antique shop and a tea room featuring lots of baked goods from old family recipes, I thought the gift items above were especially appropriate. And since Jesse makes a living doing the things I do for pleasure, I really enjoyed shopping for just the right things to go into the gift box. In fact, I’m pretty sure there will be more gift bag giveaways in my future.
And speaking of the convenience of incorporating personal passions into what you’re writing about, I think that’s an especially good idea when you are writing a series that hopefully will continue for a long time. I also think that’s a good idea when you’re writing a cozy mystery, where the aim is to balance the “feel good” part of the book with the “murder solving” part of the book.
Sort of like, “Yes, there is a dead body over there, but—look—have you ever seen so many roses on one bush?” Or, maybe, “Don’t worry, we’ll find a way to keep you out of jail and, here, have a pineapple-upside-down muffin.” And, I must confess, that I have found myself craving a piece of tea bread or a cup of hot spiced tea after reading certain sections in my books. Luckily, I usually have these things around.
When I was still in high school and just learning what writing is all about, I read a quote from Hemingway where he said that a writer needed to write what he knew. That quote terrified me just before it reduced me to despair. It was easy for him to say. He started his career as a journalist, writing for a major newspaper, where he learned the sparse, clean style that I so admired. He lived the life of an adventurer, so when he wrote what he knew, he had bullfights, African safaris, war stories, and old Cuban fishermen in his books.
I was still in high school, and while I wanted to someday win the Pulitzer and Nobel prizes for literature, which Hemingway had, I didn’t really want to go to war or run with the bulls, and Cuban was completely out of the question. I spent several years seriously wondering if I could ever be a writer, because I had no life. If I was going to write anything, it had to be from my imagination, and apparently that wasn’t acceptable.
Eventually, I got a little older, stopped taking it all so seriously, got involved with some writing groups and some fantastic critique groups, spent a few years writing romances (which I enjoyed immensely), and I lived. Life, hobbies, interests, experience, succeeding, failing, accepting and then one day, I found myself writing what I knew. Not the murder part—that’s why writers have to have imaginations—but the rest of it is what I know and love and really enjoy making a part of my cozy series.
So, thank you, Mr. Hemingway. I get it now. Write what you know, even if it’s how to get a good crop of lettuce in the spring. Write what you enjoy and hope somebody else enjoys it, too. Do research on the things you don’t know, like exactly how DNA actually works. Use your imagination to pull it all together, then put the seat of your pants in a chair, grab a keyboard, and go to work.
Next thing you know, you’re on a blog tour saying, “Hi, there, I wrote a book, and I’d like you to read it.” So, Hi, there!