Super Sleuth Wednesday – Pressing His Luck

freephoto.com, photo by Nick Cowie

freephoto.com, photo by Nick Cowie

It takes a lot of chutzpah to commit a crime. Or maybe just not a lot of smarts. But either way, criminals know that when they break they law, they’re risking fines and/or jail time. But some criminals just can’t help but press their luck and tempt fate. And when they do, sometimes they get caught. Sometimes they don’t.

Thus was the case of a young North Carolina man. The police force had been investigating several cases of breaking and entering, and they had been looking for a certain suspect for several weeks. When they tracked him down at his home, the cops were in for a big surprise. They knew the man.

Where did they know him from?

  1. He had visited the police station several days before, attempting to claim reward money for turning in an accomplice. The police had sent him away empty handed, not realizing that he was also on their suspect list.
  2. He had attended an anti-crime event the day before and beaten several officers at a doughnut-eating contest. He claimed his prize and left before officers realized who he was.
  3. He worked at the officers’ favorite diner and had served them on several occasions.  Because he used a coworker’s name tag, they never knew him by his real name.

Where do you think the police recognized him from? Leave your guess below for a chance to be this month’s Super Sleuth!

Upside Down – Music Monday

by Jill Kemerer

You know how certain songs bring you back to a time in life that made you smile? Lately, I’ve been listening to Jack Johnson’s “Upside Down.” You might remember it from the animated movie, Curious George, based on the popular children’s books by Margaret and H. A. Rey.

My kids were young when the movie came out. I think my youngest was four or five, and we all enjoyed watching it in theaters and on DVD. The books have always been favorites of ours, so it was no surprise we liked the movie, too.

The theme song, “Upside Down,” has a mellow beat that always brings a smile to my face.  I don’t know about you, but I love having a playlist full of songs guaranteed to lift my spirits, and this song is on mine.

When my life is stressful or I’m worried about something, but I have to write a happy scene, I get in a better mood with songs like this.

Here’s the video:

What song is guaranteed to make you smile?

Have a terrific day!

Wednesday Super Sleuth: Sticky Hands

dispenser tape

It was late at night when the robber entered the gas station with what appeared to be a gun under his shirt. The cashiers were positive he was using his finger so they pressed the silent alarm and decided two could play at that game, insisting that they didn’t have any cash in the register.

Knowing he had no way to seriously threaten them–a finger only goes so far, folks–he made a mad dash as sirens wailed in the distance. Behind the counter lied one of three things. Can you guess what he grabbed that sealed his fate. If his sticky fingers hadn’t gotten greedier, he might have been able to escape before police arrived.

A: A pack of Camel cigarettes

B: Scratch-off lottery tickets

C: A multi-pack of Juicy Fruit

What say you? 

 

photocredit: freedigitalphotos/iamnee

How To Find Unique Flavor For Each Novel – Rearranging the Spice Drawer

Cooking at my house can be a blend of where east meets west sometimes. With a blend of Chinese and American cuisine you can imagine the amount of spices in our spice drawer. Make that two spice drawers.

The more variety of spices to choose from, the more diversity your dishes can have in flavor. This past week I organized our spice drawers and it made me think about what kind of spices I like best. Could I mix things up a bit to create more variety in our dinners?

Writing is much the same way. When we rearrange the spices we work with we create a more unique flavor for each novel.

Finding the unique flavor for each novel is as easy as changing up the following spices:

*Location. Varying the location of where a story takes place can change everything. It changes the details and richness that create story world.

*Occupations. Striving for more unique character occupations will change the direction of a story just because of the kinds of events and competence your character will inspire.

*Quirky Character Types. Not every story can have the same type of quirky characters. You select different ones for different novels. You may have a dry humor sidekick in one and a goth scientist in another.

*Who Gets The Point of View Scenes. You will always have point of view perspective from your hero and heroine, but the type of characters you give additional POV scenes to when developing a subplot can vary greatly.

*Villain Type. There are many different kinds of villains in all genre’s. Everything from the unintentional villain to the sociopath. Even Romance can have a villain of a blander variety. Mix up the villain type and adversity they create.

*Spiritual Thread. The spiritual truth in each of our novels should be varied. You may run into some that are similar due to series theme or focus, but you do want it to variate somewhat.

*Relationships. The success of different types of relationships for your hero and heroine should fluctuate. The heroine can’t always be adopted, or always have a poor relationship with her father. There should be a mix and match of different character relationships.

Remember that even though you rearrange the spice drawer, you are still the cook and your cuisine should have your signature style or voice.

What kind of things do you like to read in a novel that give it a unique flavor?

Message In A Bottle To The Younger You – Music Mondays with Author Michelle Lim

Photo by jim daly

Photo by jim daly

As a kid, I was high octane. I woke up at 5 a.m. each day, waiting for the rest of the house to wake up. Ready for adventure was my middle name. There was no limit to my energy.

I’m not sure exactly what happened between then and now, but somewhere along the way some of that boundless energy seeped out. Adventure still excites me, but I am a bit slower to chase after it.

Back then I rushed into everything without the wisdom of years, but I learned much along the way. Still, many moments were wasted on frivolous things.

If I could go back in time and tell my younger self bits of wisdom to help me through, I would say to dream bigger, reach higher, and work harder.

A new song made me think about what I might tell myself about this moment years down the road.

How can I cease this moment and make it all it can be?

Mondays are difficult to get moving. Creativity is stuck in the pudding between my ears. But each moment counts. There is so much that I can do today to chase my dreams.

Imagine you could do anything at all, reach any dream you put your heart into.

If you knew you could reach that dream, what would you do right this moment? Today?

Plot your direction today with that in mind. Think of what you would tell yourself a few years from now about this moment and act on it.

Don’t wait for regret to set in. There is only one today to be lived. Live it with all of your aspirations on your sleeve for all to see. Capture each moment with the dream in mind.

What will you do today to capture the wisdom of your older self, before today is gone?

 

 

 

Birthday Traditions: Heartwarming Thursday

by Jill Kemerer

Today is my youngest’s birthday! We’re pretty low-key in our household, so I thought I’d share what we do and find out what you do for birthdays.

 

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Chocolate Pie with Oreo Crust. It’s not fancy, but it tastes SO good!

In the morning, we all wish the birthday boy or girl a Happy Birthday. Then everyone scatters for whatever is on their schedule that day. I wrap the gift(s), make the cake/dessert and sign the card before everyone gets home that evening.

Depending on the day and whose birthday it is, we usually stay in for dinner. I like to cook, so I make their favorite meal. However, my husband’s birthday is in March when we’re sick of being stuck inside all winter. We always take him out to dinner (and honestly, it’s like a birthday gift for us all!).

After we eat, we bring out the cake or requested dessert–cake, chocolate pie or chocolate lasagna are favorites–and ice cream. We sing “Happy Birthday” and light the candles, and as we snack on the sweets, presents are opened and pictures are taken.

When the kids were younger, my husband and I threw a party for their friends every other year. I couldn’t handle planning a big party with tons of kids every year! While I’m glad my kids loved these parties, I was very thankful when they were over. There’s something exhausting about trying to keep a dozen small children occupied for two hours. All you parents/grandparents who do this every year, I salute you! A party planner, I am not.🙂

Now you know how we celebrate birthdays. I’d love to hear how YOU celebrate them! Leave a comment!

Have a terrific day!

 

How To Add Real Life Conflicts To Your Novel – Help! I’ve Fallen Into The School Bus

Photo by Holger Selover-Stephan

Photo by Holger Selover-Stephan

If you are reading this blog, chances are I survived the back to school rush of 2016. Whew!

Four kids make back to school a challenge. There’s all of the Open Houses, school supply lists, clothes shopping, and new schedules. As luck would have it, my four children are attending three different schools, making it even more chaotic.

If you are a last minute shopper, or forgot a few items, you just might be duking it out Jingle All The Way style in isle ten. And if you are looking for a TI 84+ calculator. . . sorry, we got the last one.

This past week has been full of real life conflict that is enough to make any mom want to move to Australia with Alexander. Just like us, our characters’ lives are full of real life conflict, too.

Have you built that into the ebb and flow of your novel. Characters seem real when we give them the experiences we go through every day and they must navigate the potholes.

Here are a few tips on How To Add Real Life Conflicts To Your Novel that make it easier for readers to identify with your characters.

How To Add Real Life Conflict To Your Novel:

*Brainstorm a list of real life situations your character might face at the time of year your story takes place. It helps to focus in on the time of year when your novel takes place. List holidays, professional busy seasons, personal hobbies that might draw a character away from their goals, and even key times for other characters when they are not as supportive due to outside pressures.

*Select the events that are highest in conflict in conjunction with genre suitability. At Christmas, a chic-lit novel might have shopping woes and complicated to shop for mother-in-laws. Although those might work in a suspense, it would be much more helpful to make a character more vulnerable, having to shop after dark when there is a chance their stalker would wait for them in the parking lot while their arms were weighed down with packages. (For more on plot conflict and escalation techniques check out my book here.)

*Intensify the conflict by making us care even more. If a character has to chose between the dangers of facing that parking lot when your life is at risk and not finding a special gift for your mom’s last Christmas, the tension increases. The reader cares about the character’s safety and the last Christmas for a mom and her daughter. Using these competing values is a trick I learned from Susan May Warren in her book Deep And Wide: Advanced Fiction Techniques.

What was the crazy part of your back-to-school season?