December 1, 2011

Mystery We Write Winter 2011 Blog Tour Presents Jackie King

Thanks Beth for hosting me on this 7th day of our fun blog tour.

Hello Readers, thanks for taking a break from your holiday preparations to join me. And remember to make comments on each of our 15-member mystery writer’s blogsites. We’re
giving away 44 books total, either during the tour or immediately afterwards. I’m giving a signed copy of my cozy mystery THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE and a signed copy of THE FOXY HENS AND MURDER MOST FOWL. Names will be chosen from those who leave a comment.

Beth chose WRITING NEMESIS’ as a discussion topic for our traveling group of writers. Here’s
my take on the subject:

Telling the
Truth Is Hard

Even When You’re
Making It Up As You Go

I’m a private person. A friend tells me it’s because I’m a Pisces; I think it’s because I was always in trouble as a kid for saying something that annoyed grownups. So I learned to hide my true thoughts. And that worked well for getting along with adults and later on, bosses and coworkers. But when I started writing, this acquired façade turned into my biggest Nemesis.

My first instinct as a beginning writer was to try and make the reader like my protagonist (hero or heroine), by making these characters ‘nice.’ This had worked well for me as a person, hadn’t it? But the result on paper produced cardboard people that even I didn’t like.

For some time I soldiered on, not quite knowing how to fix my problem. Then one day while
working at my computer (this is where most of my best ideas hit me) I realized that my aversion to showing flaws, wasn’t to protect my characters, it was to protect myself! (As if anyone really cared.) I felt such a fake! No wonder I had plastic people in my stories. So I made a decision that
improved my writing more than any other one thing: I decided to TELL THE TRUTH as I saw it. I learned to speak straight from my heart, no matter how it sounded. Suddenly my characters turned into flesh and blood. These people didn’t go blabbing their faults to other characters, that wouldn’t be realistic. Their flaws were spoken inside their heads, where readers could identify with their honesty.

Note to beginning writers: This is called inner dialogue, or a private conversation between the character and the reader. If skillfully done, there is no need for attributions. (Although it’s okay to use ‘he said’ or ‘she said’ as often as needed for clarity. These particular words seem invisible to most of our American readers.)

To develop this and other writing skills, spend as much time as possible writing. Also it’s essential to read continually. After you finish reading a mystery (or other book) that you love, go back and study how that author set you up for the ride.  Especially observe the character’s inner dialogue—especially those with no attributions.

I was astonished at how hard telling the truth was, especially at first. What would my church
friends think? What would my children or mom or dad think? But by that time I was at the point where writing had become more important to me than anyone’s opinion. I figured that if they really liked me, they’d forgive me. So I forged on.

Telling the truth on paper has been the most freeing thing I’ve ever done as a writer. If you haven’t already discovered the joy of being yourself in your writing, try it. Incidentally, this skill is also part of what’s called ‘voice.’ Dare to be outrageous, if that’s your true self. Or fearful, or timid, or cowardly. Your readers will love you for it.

Hugs, Jackie




Blogsite: Cozy Mysteries and Other Madness:

THE INCONVENENT CORPSE is on Amazon and Barnes & Noble as well as available through all bookstores.

Paper trade back: $15.95.  Kindle $2.99

Nook $2.99


Opening paragraph to THE INCONVENIENT

“Grace Cassidy stared at the stranger’s body. He was about sixty, pot-bellied, naked, and very dead. She knew he was dead because his skin was the color of concrete. Worst of all, he was lying smack dab in the middle of her bed.”

The story in a nutshell:

…No credit cards, no cash, no resources, no job skills. Fleeced and abandoned by her husband, Grace Cassidy learns she is the prime suspect in a bizarre murder.

Jackie King loves books, words, and writing tall tales. She especially enjoys murdering the people she dislikes on paper. King is a full time writer who sometimes teaches writing at Tulsa
Community College. Her latest novel, THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE is a traditional mystery. King has also written five novellas as co-author of the Foxy Hens Series. Warm Love on Cold Streets is her latest novella and is included in the anthology THE FOXY HENS MEET A
ROMANTIC ADVENTURER. Her only nonfiction book is DEVOTED TO COOKING. She is a
member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, Oklahoma Writers Federation, and Tulsa Night Writers.


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19 Responses | | Comments Feed

  1. Beth, Thanks a million for hosting me on your blogsite. I loved RAVEN TALKS BACK, it’s a fine piece of writing.

  2. Jackie – I will say it again. I LOVE the cover of your novel. It is fantastic.

    With that out of the way, I just wanted to chime in and say that you aren’t the only one to struggle with this issue, and I agree that it’s impossible to write a greal novel without dropping the expectations of others.

    There’s barely room enough for all the characters in my head, much less the voices of friends and family!

  3. Great post, especially the explanation of inner dialog.

  4. Excellent advice, Jackie. I love a good flawed character — so much more interesting than “nice.”

    Lorenda, you’re so right about no room for the family and friends in your head. In the beginning, I’d struggle over language, attitudes, love scenes (“aack! My mother will be reading this! I can’t say THAT!”). It took me a while to block it out completely, but it sure made the writing easier and the characters more authentic.

  5. I struggled with the same thing, Jackie, during the writing of my first book. After I learned the world doesn’t revolve around me and what I may say 😉 I got more daring with what I’d say in my books. Terrificly hard struggle, but as you say, it was very freeing to discover I could tell the truth and the book would be a lot better for it.

  6. Beth, what a wonderful post. So much of what you said I identify with, and your advice was all good!


  7. What I meant to say was — Jackie, what a wonderful post. So much of what you said I identify with, and your advice was all good!

    But you may have guess that already!


  8. Great advice, Jackie. It also took me a while to realize that my characters needed faults and quirks to make them believable. I enjoyed THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE, especially your quirky characters.

  9. Lorenda, I agree that the fear of showing our soft underbellies is universally terrifying. Thanks for dropping by and especially thanks for the compliment about my cover. I can’t take any credit for that, except for the details on the tag. I have a friend who used to do autopsies here in Tulsa, and he told me what to put on the toe tag.

  10. Marilyn, Beth, Madeline and Jean, we writers are so alike. Perhaps that’s why we like to hang around together in cyberland. Thanks for your time and company.

  11. Mike, Looks like you’re my token male today, at least so far. I appreciate your comment.

  12. Boy, I loved your post, Marilyn! You sound just like me, and I’m a Sagittarius! I guess it’s the writer thing that makes us all a little nuts 🙂

  13. Jackie,
    Thanks for the great advice! I needed it! That is a great and memorable cover & an interesting sounding book.

    I love your cityscape at the top of your blog, Beth!


  14. Alice, I’m a Pisces, and one of my best friends is a Sagittarius. She and I get along perfectly. (She tells me what to do and I do it.) And don’t worry about calling me Marilyn. I love that name.

  15. Brenda W., I love seeing your name among the comments. And each time, your name goes into my hat once more. And I, too, love Beth’s cityscape. I’ve never been to Chicago, but maybe one of these days…


  16. Beth, Thanks again for having me on your blog. I’m having such a great time on our Blog Tour.


  17. Jackie: Great post. Lot of good information to avoid those darn cardboard characters. With all this talk of writing, I’m itching to get some words done. Thanks for the inspiration.
    W.S. Gager on Writing

  18. Jackie, I think the same thing holds true for making life difficult for our characters. If you’re anything like me, you avoid conflict in real life. Why would we want to make life difficult for our characters? Once I realized a story is nothing without conflict, I got tough. In the make believe world, that’s easy. In real life? Nope. I’m a pushover!

    Great post.

  19. Jackie, thanks so much for coming by today and chatting with all the folks who also dropped in. Thanks, everyone, and come back anytime, there’s always something going on here!







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