Dance and Sing for Books!

Well, I hope you all had a chance to revisit your childhood over the holidays. I’m talking about the release of the new movie Mary Poppins Returns. Now I don’t usually post my thoughts about movies on my blog, but this one deserves some attention
I have to admit I was skeptical there was no way they could outdo the first. There is no way that someone else would play the role of the ultimate nanny and carry it off the way Julie Andrews did.original_1099048853
But boy was I wrong! I’m in love with the new movie it was everything I hoped for and more. The return of old characters, new characters, song, dance and Disney the way it used to be!
It felt like the movie was made just for me; the writer, the reader, the adventurer.

Big, big, big spoiler alert here!! If you haven’t seen, the movie, you may not want to read the rest of my blog. Or you can go ahead and read, I promise not to give too much away.
The original Mary Poppins had this beautiful scene where Bert and Mary took the kids on an adventure through pictures. They jumped into the paintings on the sidewalk, and the fun begins. Everything that you remember from that scene in the original Mary Poppins– keep that in the back of your head. Because in Mary Poppins Returns they took the same concept, but instead of jumping into pictures they made the emphasis on books.

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Books, books, books! There is a fantastic song, & dance number called ‘The Cover Is Not the Book’ and the song stuck in my head for most of the movie. You can even play it on iTunes.
I think for me as a reader and a writer it felt like the movie was calling out because of the accent on books. It is all about judging a book by its cover, and the lessons that it taught the Banks children through song and dance are excellent.
Now as a writer we know you can and should judge a book by its cover– because the cover is what sells your book. So don’t lose heart to that concept.
The movie was taking an old saying and giving it a new song and a fun visual concept. One that I hope will resonate with every child. Teaching our children to remember that each person is an individual and has their own redeeming qualities. Qualities that you can’t see by looking at a person until you get to know them.
So, thank you to the Disney Company, and the creators and writers of Mary Poppins Returns. You touched my heart and my soul, especially with that song and dance routine.

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PS  I have the soundtrack playing as I’m writing this, and I can’t stop grinning!

Victoria LK Williams

Go ahead-kill ’em!

Kill your darlings.

The first time I heard that phrase I thought it was awful. What kind of a sadistic person would deliberately kill a character you created that wasn’t an evil villain?
Your characters are like your friends. You know them inside and out. You’ve created them with distinct personality traits and flaws. Hopefully, you’ve got your readers to connect with those characters.But now some writing Guru has told you to kill them.

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I have to be honest, it took me a while to fully understand why you would do this. But now that I know, I’m not afraid to do it.
Having a murder in your mystery is pretty much a no-brainer. The reader usually doesn’t have a chance to get to know the victim, so you don’t feel any guilt having killed the character. But there’s more at stake when the characters have had a chance to become known to your reader.
Why would you put your characters in mortal danger? There are a number of reasons, but probably the most common is to build tension, or change the direction of the story. In a cozy mystery, it’s rare that a killing is random, there must be a meaning behind it. Keep this in mind and don’t go killing characters just for the sake of excitement. And a word of warning: you can kill the granny next door, but don’t kill her pet! For some reason, readers (myself included) get upset at the death of a animal. The animal can accidentally cause a death, but Fido or FeeFee must walk away unscathed.

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In the book I’m working on now, I was stumped. I had all the clues in place, the red herrings were planted everything was going smoothly. Yet, I was bored. And if I was bored, I knew my reader would be too. But there was this one annoying character…
Yes, I’ll admit, I killed her. This added urgency to the story. And it also explains some plot points.
Do I feel guilty about killing off my darling? Maybe a little. I think I had honestly hoped to redeem her and make her a little bit more likable at the end of the book. But not everybody can be redeemed, and not everybody can be liked.
No, I’m not saying go and start killing off your characters merely to build tension in your story. There are other ways that you can create the same tension without being murderous.
Something unexpected or harmful can happen to a character. Thrown for a loop, your characters will act differently than the reader is expecting. Use those unexpected events to build more tension or even to set up an explaination that must be answered by the end of the book.

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There, now I put some evil thoughts into your head as a writer.
Take a good hard look at your characters and decide whether you kill them off or just throw an unexpected twist their way.

Victoria LK Williams

For the Love of Pets

The modern cozy mystery has something that the old traditional ones doesn’t seem to have… 

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Pets!
Now, by all means, correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t seem to remember any of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot characters having cat or dog as the main character, but today’s cozy mysteries sure do. Mine included.
Maybe it’s because in the day of Agatha Christie pets did not play as significant a role in our lives as they do now. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that people didn’t love their pets in Dame Agatha’s day. But did they catered to them? Did they dress Fido up in Halloween costumes? Were their pet served gourmet pet food? And I bet they sure as heck didn’t have pet, insurance!
But today’s pets are part of our lives, treated as good (or sometimes slightly better) as our children, and pampered like royalty.
So, it only seems reasonable, if pets are that important in our everyday life that they would also be important in our characters daily life?
Personally, I love adding pets to my stories. They can give comic relief and help the reader relate to the main character. A pet can sniff out clues the main character may not have seen, and they have a sense of awareness that humans don’t.

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For instance, in my Citrus Beach Mysteries, my main character has a beagle named Barney and Barney is excellent at sniffing out clues. In book number two, Scent of a Mystery, Barney is the one that finds the first clue, setting the book in motion.
In Storm Voices, Mac is given a little gray kitten. This kitten seems to have mystic abilities, and she definitely knows that there’s something unusual living in the garden of Mac’s home.
If you look at the covers of many cozy mysteries, you’ll find a cat or dog on it; after all was a witch without a cat. Two of my favorite series are Lauren Carr’s Mac Faraday Mystery books and The Cat Who series by Lilian Jackson Braun.
Having a cat, dog, or some other animal in your mystery draws in the animal lover as well as the mystery lover. And let’s face it, an animal can get away with so much more than a human. Nobody is going to yell at the dog or point a gun at him for snooping in the den. And if the cat happens to knock over a valuable clue, it will only seem like her curiosity is coming into play. But if your main character is doing either of those things while searching for clues, then the chances are if they get caught, they will be held at gunpoint by the villain or arrested by the cops.

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Go ahead and include an animal in your story.
Use Fido or FeeFee to your advantage. Let them be the ones to ferret out the clues and warm the cockles of your reader’s hearts.
But be careful-they can easily take over your story, because everyone loves a pet.

Victoria LK Williams

Stop, Look, Listen…Write

Have you ever looked at somebody and just wondered?
Wondered- do I know you from somewhere? Have we met another time and place? Who do you remind me of? Or even more probing questions… What in the world are you doing? Why would you say something like? What an odd reaction! What an exciting job or hobby?

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Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

 
If you’re a people watcher, these are things that often happen, and if you’re a writer, these are potential characters for your stories.
It’s a storyteller’s job to be observant of what’s going on around them, not only current news and happenings but the people who come in and out of our lives on a daily and infrequent basis.
Sometimes those people just skim the outer circles of our day-to-day life. It might be somebody you happen to see in a park or a store. Or perhaps a conversation that you hear, but are not part of. Maybe an interaction between two people that you observe and it makes you wonder.
The sidekicks and minor characters a writer creates for the story can, and should be, just as important as your main character. It would be ridiculous to have your main character have all the action revolve around them. Some vital information, clues or conversations can come from other people within the story. Yet you don’t want those other people or characters to be blah and uninteresting. These characters need to hold the reader’s attention as much as the main characters.

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Because these side characters often don’t play an intricate part in your story, it is easy to use real-life people that you barely know or that you observe just in a casual setting as models. You can take the liberty with what you see and hear and create those side characters into funny, interesting, or evil characters, depending upon your storyline. Take care not to make them more interesting than your main character. Instead, you should be able to make them play off of your main character, making the main character have more depth and interest by how they interact with the people and events around them.
So start watching what goes on around you, regardless of where you’re at. You can hear some of the most interesting conversations standing in line in the grocery store. Waiting for your waitress at a restaurant? Watch how the occupants in the tables around you are reacting to each other. Is there a comradery or tension? Sitting in a park with your kids pay attention to how the other adults respond to children. Some will be loving and giving, possibly because they have children of their own. Others might be more annoyed and feel like the children are pesty, getting in their way of a quiet afternoon.
But don’t limit yourself to just people. Interactions between animals and people can create a release of tension in your story or an “awwwww” moment. These type of moments can easily be used to distract the reader from something in your storyline. A clue in your mystery that was glaring can be softened with the interaction of your main character in the dog. Suddenly that clue has lost its importance, at least for that moment until you’re ready to bring it back out to readers attention.

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The build-up between characters for that first kiss can easily be dragged out by a kid brother or sister interrupting their moment.
These are just a few examples of how you can take online or event or character and use them in your story. Use them to give your main character more interest and more exciting things to do.
Can you think of something you’ve seen just this week that took you by surprise or caught your attention? Can you weave it into your story? Good, I’ve given you something to look for.
Now go write!

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Welcome to 2019.
I know I know we’re more than a week into the new year and I’m late on getting this greeting out to you. But I did that on purpose. Personally, I ’ve been bombarded with good wishes to the forms of blogs, newsletters, and podcast. And I’ve enjoyed every one of them and would like to reciprocate to all of those I’ve listened to and read; happy new year to you too.
Like everyone else, the new year means new goals new visions and plans for a better future. Old habits will be thrown out, hopefully, and resolutions for better healthier habits are made.
I’m going to do a little bit of both. Before I could look forward, I need to look back. So I’m looking back at where it all began– that very first book.
The book began as a challenge from a group of friends. I had said I wanted to write a book and they held me to it. To be honest, I never thought I could do it, but once I started, there was no stopping me. To date, I have 15 books published and plans for so many more.

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But to get back to that first book. Everything starts with inspiration, and I’d like to share my inspiration for the first book…
The summers in my small town in South Florida can be pretty quiet. I could go for weeks on my job and not see a customer at their home. It was one of those hot blistering summer days, and I was grateful to be working along the river where, at least, a cool breeze could be found. As I looked out into the intercoastal, I couldn’t help but notice how isolated it felt. The channels that run in and out of the intercoastal take you into different communities or out into the river. As I was doing my job, I noticed a small boat motoring up one of those channels and the idea clicked you could commit a crime in such a location, getting in and out by boat, and nobody would ever know.

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And so began Murder for Neptune’s Trident. As I looked across the water, thoughts quickly came, and the story outline developed in my head. But of course, it took a couple of days before I got it down on paper. I was continually adding to it before I was ready to start writing a book. Don’t forget it was my first one and I was pretty nervous there more than one day that I just put the paperwork aside and thought “it’s a great idea, but I’m never going to pull it off; I don’t have the talent to write it.” But my friends kept after me, asking me how the writing was going, so I dug the outline back out and started writing. And that’s how it all began.

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This leads me to now and my goals for 2019. I have two different series that I want to start. One, I already have the first book completed and have half-written. The other series? Well, the idea is percolating, and I like where it’s going. I also want to continue the novella series I started in December. It was fun writing a short mystery in between books. It kept the juices flowing and kept me in the practice of writing.
Another goal for 2019 is to format my existing books into large print. The first one, Now Arriving (Sisters Station 1), was published in large print in December.
I’m curious about creating an audiobook as well. I know I enjoy listening to books, especially when I’m driving, so I think it would be a whole new avenue of readers for me.
I love all the new groups that I’ve joined on Facebook. Writers are helping writers, and I’m learning so much. I hope I’m giving back just as much as I’m getting.
Other than this, my goals are to continue to move forward with what I’m doing, exploring the publishing and promotional side of writing a little bit more. One thing I did learn in 2018 is it when I take a break from writing I don’t feel whole. Yes, my gardening business is crazy at the end of the year, and it takes up all of my time. But the writing gives me the creative energy that I need to keep the ideas fresh. And when I have new ideas, everything benefits; my business, my writing, and even my family life–because I feel more alive when I’m creative.
And I’m not the only creative writer out there. Here’s the link to the  Cozy January Book Fair, a mystery promotional going on this month. I hope you’ll check it out. Heck, there’s even get the chance to enter the drawing for $100 Amazon gift card.

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If you haven’t already, be sure to go to my website and sign up for my newsletter. I always include recommendations of new books by other authors and any promotional giveaways that I’m involved.
Until next time, happy writing and happy new year.

Book Sales!!!

Just a quick post to let you know about 2 (not 1!) cozy book sales going on for the weekend. They started today and with go through the 18th.

With cooler weather (some of you might even have snow!), shorter nights and the long Thanksgiving weekend coming up, this is a great opportunity to stock up on some great cozy mysteries. Some are free and the rest are $.99, so don’t miss out on this sale.

Click on the pictures below to be taken directly to the sale.

Stuff Your Kindle Cozy Mystery Sale

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Thanksgiving Cozy Mystery Sale

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Happy Reading!

Victoria LK Williams

New Release!

Just a quick note to let you know that book 3 in the Storm Voices series is now available.

I so enjoyed writing this book! Not only is it a cozy mystery, but it takes place at my favorite time of the year: the Christmas holidays.

Once again, Mac is hearing a strange voice. But now there are two. And one belongs to a missing child. Friends and family are all looking for Tommy, and Mac is working along with the police. No one knows she can hear the voices except her closest loved ones, and she must work fast to find the boy before it’s too late. Nature seems to lead her to all the clues, is it possible that a more mystical element is involved?
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Grab your copy, or if you haven’t read the others in the series, now is a perfect time to download your weekend reading.  You can get links to all the major book outlets on my website VictoriaLKWilliams.com

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A Cozy Mystery Treat!

The reading and writing community is unique to any other industry.
And I think that’s because readers and writers genuinely care about your success.
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That’s not to say that we don’t occasionally feel a tinge of envy when we find a writer getting hundreds upon thousands of downloads, making six figures doing what they love. But it’s a tinge of envy, not the green-eyed monster that makes you want to tear their eyes out in sheer frustration. I believe it’s the type of envy which makes you work a little harder to achieve goals and success like the writers before you.
And what’s even more amazing is many of those writers are willing to be mentors to young writers starting out. No strings attached just a true desire to help another writer.
The writing community as a whole is willing to share and help wherever they can. Writers share successes and failures. If there’s a scam out their quick to alert other writers so that they don’t get taken in by the scammers. If an advertising platform works their equally willing to share that information so that your books can us achieve success as well.

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As a reader, I love to see an author succeed. That means there are more books for me to read. Usually, I will devour a series by a writer that I know and like. There’s a sense of disappointment when you finish the last book in the series and you have to wait for the next one, but there’s also a sense of anticipation.
Letting readers who have downloaded your book know about other writers in the same genre when they have a new release or a sale is another way writers help each other.
And that’s what I’m doing today, I’m letting readers and writers alike know about the sale by a group of cozy mystery writers. Below the banner, you’ll find a link to go directly to the page where the books are posted. Then, you can click on as many as you like to download to your heart’s content, and indulge in a little bit of $0.99 luxury and then cuddle up with a good mystery for the weekend.
This sale is for November 19th-21st.
And dear reader, after you finished some of these amazing stories, please be sure to leave a review for the book. Reviews are important to writers, not only so they know how they’re doing and that you like the book, but it also gives more opportunities for advertising and ranking. Don’t you want to see your favorite writer become a bestseller? That’s what a review will help do.
So what are you waiting for? Start clicking on those books so that you can relax that good cozy mystery.

 

 

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CLICK HERE TO GET BOOKS!!!

Victoria LK Williams

My Morning Date

I have a morning breakfast date almost every morning.

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It’s new to my schedule, and I have to tell you I’m really enjoying it. And no, I’m not cheating on my husband. Nope, it’s much simpler than that. I’m enjoying my morning time by not having the TV on and instead, going out and sitting on the porch. As I sit and enjoy my coffee, listening to what’s going on around me, I’ve discovered is we have a Falcon who comes every morning to our area.

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The house next door has a dead tree about 30 feet high and that’s with the falcon perches every morning around 6 o’clock.
He’ll sit there for a good half hour, not doing much of anything, just watching the neighborhood. Once in a while, he will let out a call and is a very distinctive call so I know it’s him. When he starts to hear another Falcon in the distance, he begins to get louder and the other birds take notice of him.
It’s like a signal. As soon as he starts crying out louder, the Mockingbirds and the Blue Jays go into protection mode. They’re trying to protect their nest and themselves because whether we like it or not, the Falcon is a predator. As if a signal is given, the birds will start diving down at the Falcon, not coming too close, but enough to annoy. Each pass gets closer, each time loud warning cries filling the air.
The falcon puts up with this for about 10 or 15 minutes and then you can almost see him shake his head. He opens his wings (what a wingspan!) and takes off to another tree. The smaller birds have won for the morning, but he’ll be back tomorrow.
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Watching this day in and day out, I feel compassion for the Falcon. I sometimes wish I could spread my wings and go to a safer spot. Because when it comes to writing that sometimes it seems as if everything is coming at you at once.
Your book ready for publication and you sit back, thinking you can relax a bit. But wait! There are still so many things that have to be done. It can become overwhelming. You may feel like that bird in the tall tree, having the other birds diving down at you. Sometimes you want to just shake your head spread your wings and fly away.
But if you want your book to be published you need to roll up your sleeves and get ready to take care of all those things that fly down at you, needing your attention. Editing, beta readers, proofreading, no holes in your storylines, advertisements, proper keywords, blurbs, author bio… the list goes on and on. And just as soon as you think you’ve got one task finished, you realize there’s three more to do.
And don’t think only indie writers that go through this. Gone are the days when traditional publishers took care of all this for their writer. Authors now have to be their own advertising agent, getting the word out about their books. That’s not to say that all publishers act this way, but I think the large majority of them do.
I was recently asked why I went with indie publishing, instead of trying to do traditional publishing. Probably the biggest reason for me is; if I have to do the work myself, why not do it the way I want it done, in my own time frame.
Like many other writers, I have a job outside of my writing. One that I love, and I’m not ready to give it up. Like most businesses in South Florida, there are seasons in my business. These seasons will allow me to have time for writing and creating, and then other times when I can’t even get to my work in progress. For me to have a deadline from the publisher would be catastrophic. I would be disappointing them and myself.  There’s always something during my busy season that comes up that has to be taken care of, and the writing has to be put on the back burner. If I had a writing deadline, I would be torn in two different directions. By going Indie, I can determine my own timelines, covers, and my own advertising outlets.
It’s a lot of work and sometimes it feels overwhelming.

Like my falcon.

I can spread my wings and leave all the noise behind by going to a quieter spot or time. Or I can do what I love on my own terms. It’s my choice, just like it’s his choice to attack or retreat.

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So as a writer, you need to decide when to attack, when to retreat, and went to push forward with a gentle grace.

Victoria LK Williams

The most important tool a write has.

Sitting at the outside table of the restaurant, I couldn’t help but smile as I looked out the window towards the water. It’s a beautiful day and the river is full of boats. Between the river and where I sat is a wonderful park. There are plenty of slides and swings, but also lots of open grassy area for play. Today the park was full; a group of teenagers had a game of volleyball going, a few couples were walking the pathways. There were kids on the swings and I could hear music from someone’s radio.

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But it was the gleeful laughter coming from a small group of pre-schoolers that had me smiling. They were playing in the same way my son had at their age, and so did I for that matter. It was simple entertainment with one of the oldest toys: a bottle of bubbles. The laughter was contagious and as I watched, a young puppy joined in the fun, making the children laugh harder.
I didn’t see one iPad, laptop or even phone. Even the parents were getting in on the fun. It was a game we all know, and as sophisticated as today’s toys are, it never seems to go out of style. The simple joy of chasing and popping the soapy bubbles seemed to be able to entertain all, with no problems.
I love how the simple old-fashioned toy worked. There was no need for fancy gadgets or accessories. All you needed is a device to hold the soap while you blew into it to create the bubble. The wind would take the bubble up and out of reach and you would try to pop it before it got too far away from you.
I watch for a few moments longer and then looked down at the paper I had jotted down a few ideas on. I was getting anxious to leave, I wanted to get to my laptop and start writing. Without thinking, I wrote a single item on the paper. Words.

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As simple as the bubbles were, they proved over and over that they would last for a long, long time. I didn’t really need my laptop. Nor the programs I have installed on it to help me write most effectively. There were 3 tools I needed to tell my story. They are as old as dirt, and part of my day to day life.

First I need a method to record my ideas. Any old pen will do. Then I must have the means to hold those ideas. A notebook, a piece of paper, even the napkin on my plate. It doesn’t matter, as long I have those two I can begin.
But the most important tool I need is the same, regardless of how they are being recorded.
WORDS.
Words are the glue to our life. They help us communicate with not only those around us, but ourselves (come on, admit it: you talk to yourself too!) Words are used for direction, instructions, and to express our feeling. Words are the ultimate tool of the storyteller. After all, words have been the way we communicate since the caveman.
As the storyteller, it’s our job to pick through the words and pick the ones that help us connect with our readers, create the feeling of the sharing a great story while pulling them into our tale. It’s the words that are the tool of our trade. Not the fancy computer, or the umpteen writing programs we all try.
Just the words!
Our words alone are the tool of the writer that must be constantly sharped and used. It’s up to us to sort through the millions of words and find the ones that convey not only the storyline, but also feel the story is trying to tell. Words are the mightiest tool we have and if we want to be successful, we must use them wisely. Using the right words will set the tone for your story, making it a romance or a thriller; a fantasy or a scary tale of horror. Your words can make your reader laugh out loud, or cry with sadness.

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So remember, all the fun and shiny programs, computers, fancy journals or pretty pens don’t make you a writer—your words do!