Maggie Pill

The Most Entertaining Cozy Author You Never Heard Of!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

It's Amazing What I Don't Know!

Writers are supposed to write what they know, but once you start writing, you realize you don't know as much as you thought you did.
I was raised on a farm, so I have a sense of life there, but that was (mumble-mumble) years ago. Things are different now. As the Sleuth Sisters Mysteries go on, I find myself wandering through Fleet-Farm type stores with new interest. "Look!" I tell my husband. "This is how they water chickens nowadays."
"Huh,"  he replies.

In the Work In Progress, there is real estate fiddling, so I need to know about deeds and sales and Realtor duties (and yes, that has to be capitalized.) I visit an acquaintance in real estate, and he gets me started. When I run into a snag, I call him and he helps me make it work. "Wow!" I tell my husband. "Dan sure knows the real estate business."

I've mentioned before the friends who help when I write about exotic animals, like the reindeer in Book #3. "Boy," say as I come home with pages of notes on the subject. "Reindeer are different than I thought they'd be."

As I was trying to work out the plot for this book, I needed to know about insurance on vacation property. I was shopping in a nearby town, so I stopped at the first insurance office I saw and asked. The whole staff ended up discussing ways I could accomplish what I wanted to do in the book. "They were so nice!" I told my husband later. "They really helped me get the plot solidified.

 In a mystery, of course there are weapons, and often those weapons are guns. I happen to live with an expert, so I simply go downstairs  and say, "What kind of gun would my bad guy have?"
"A gun is a normally tubular weapon or other device designed to discharge projectiles or other material. The projectile may be solid, liquid, gas or energy and may be free, as with bullets and artillery shells, or captive as with Taser probes and whaling harpoons. The means of projection varies according to design but is usually effected by the action of gas pressure, either produced through the rapid combustion of a propellant or compressed and stored by mechanical means, operating on the projectile inside an open-ended tube in the fashion of a piston. The confined gas accelerates the movable projectile down the length of the tube, imparting sufficient velocity to sustain the projectile's travel once the action of the gas ceases at the end of the tube or muzzle. Alternatively, acceleration via electromagnetic field generation may be employed in which case the tube may be dispensed with and a guide rail substituted."*

*Kidding: I stole that from Wikipedia. But that's what he sounds like!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

If Your Pet Were...

If your dog were an actor, who would he be most like?*
If your cat went to college, what would she major in?
If your horse got to decorate the stall, which colors would he choose?
If your guinea pig rented a movie, what would he want to watch?
If your parakeet had a purse, would it be designer, practical, or casual?

*Burt here strikes me as an Abe Vigoda type.

Just wondering...

For my regular readers, I've decided to move the blog to Thursdays and see if I'm better able to keep up with stuff that way. (Peg's still on Mondays)

Monday, February 8, 2016

There's Too Many Kids in This Tub

The title reference is to a Shel Silverstein poem, but it applies to books sometimes, too.

An author I read and enjoy, Tim Hallinan, explained in a recent book that he'd killed off a bunch of characters because there were just too many for readers (and Tim) to keep track of. Well, that's nice for him, but he doesn't write cozies. You can't just kill off people readers know well in a cozy. It isn't done.

Consider the Sleuth Sisters. There are the sisters, of course: Barb, Faye, and Retta. Each has a love interest: Barb has police chief Rory Neuencamp, Faye has husband Dale, and Retta has recently been seen with FBI agent Lars Johannsen. Two sisters have pets: Faye has Buddy and Retta has Styx, and they really are characters. Then there's Faye's irascible mother-in-law, Harriet. There's Gabe, the lovable lunk who thinks he's a detective, and his girlfriend Mindy. And in the last book readers met two of Faye's sons, Cramer and Bill (who's married to Carla). They took in 3 little girls named after flowers: Iris, Pansy, and Daisy.

Readers want to know what's happening with all of those people PLUS there has to be a mystery with new characters (at least one, since none of the above would ever be a murderer).

Unlike tough-guy writers, I can't bump off characters at random. I'm including everyone listed above in Book #4 (SLEUTHING AT THE SPRINGS), but I gotta tell ya, it's getting harder!