March Book Madness: In and Out like a Lion; or at least a Saint

Wow. March. Loved you, but you wore me out.

I started out the month doing final edits to my fourth book in the Charlie Mack Motown Mystery series.  That book: Judge Me When I’m Wrong will be published in October 2019.  It’s the first time I’ve had two books published in one calendar year.  Excited!

I did a sensitivity/beta read for an author friend.  It was a romance novel. I don’t read a lot of romance, but this book’s story was quite charming, and dare I say it.  I enjoyed racing through to the ‘happy ending’.  Then it was off to Pittsburgh to work with the Golden Crown Literary Society’s Board to check out our host hotel for July’s GCLS Con.  The beautiful Wyndham Grand in Downtown Pittsburgh, sits at the convergence of the city’s three rivers and will be an excellent site for the gathering of our 300 GCLS members this summer.

A week later it was off to Chicago for the Murder and Mayhem conference. I sat on a fun panel of cozy mystery writers (I’m not cozy) and they made me feel very MWA-U presentationcomfortable. The day after the conference, I taught a class (with Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter board member, Mia Manansala) called: Character, not Caricatures: Writing People Who Aren’t Like You.   Mia and I swirled through a PowerPoint presentation and engaged the paying audience in a series of writing exercises.

The following week it was on to New Orleans for the Saints and Sinners LGBTQ Literary Festival where I ate gumbo, 20190330_111610moderated a panel of radical, lesbian, feminist writing luminaries (Judy Grahn, Blanche McCrary Boyd, and Dorothy Allison), participated in an interview with New Orleans mystery writer, Jean Redmann, did a reading of my new book, Catch Me When I’m Falling, read the poetry of 55939417_320058308711348_6479406736695361536_nAssotto Saint in a author’s remembrance (including Pulitzer Prize winner, Michael Cunningham) of writers who had passed away of HIV/AIDS, and, wait for it- was inducted into the SAS Fest Hall of Fame.

20190403_185405Oh, and did I mention I met Grammy-winning, extraordinary musician, Ani DiFranco?

AniDiFranco

Writing Diversity: Character, Not Caricature

I worked with Mystery Writers of America Midwest’s Secretary, Mia Manansala (photo below), in Chicago to present a workshop/ practicum on how writers can develop characters in their books  that are different from them.  We shared information about avoiding stereotypes (pause to be aware of implicit biases or filters); cultivating inclusion (read #ownvoices); building cultural competence (it’s a course of action not a course of study); avoiding default characters (not everyone is white, middle-class, and straight) and bringing humility to the writing process.  The attendees participated in a few exercises, and attendees walked away with the beginnings of a character profile for their next (or first) diverse character, and a packet of further reading.

MWA-U presentation

Mr. Pilot

This guy is my “default” airline pilot.  Default characters are a no-no

GenderUnicorn

The Unicorn graph can help us understand the LGBTQ gender/identity/expression spectrum.

Thank you! to the MWAMidwest Board for the opportunity.

Mystery Review: Flesh and Gold by Ann Aptaker

Flesh and Gold (Cantor Gold Crime)Flesh and Gold by Ann Aptaker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love the writing in this series. It’s pithy, wise-cracking, noir talk crackling with wit, intelligence and magnificent metaphors. I’ve always wanted to go to Cuba, especially the sparkling, exotic, forbidden Cuba of the 50’s and Flesh and Gold gave me more than I could have imagined. It’s all there: the pastel buildings, the formidable sun, the white-walled tires, the architecture, and the rum. And now I know about Cuba’s darkest side: sinister, sinful, and dangerous. I’ll still go to Cuba. But now I’ll avoid some of the backstreets. Great storytelling.

View all my reviews

Sister Crime Writers

From Cozies to Noir.  Here are a half-dozen mystery-writing friends whose work I adore.  Try them.  You’ll like them.  It would be a crime not to.

Gordon-Books-AD-No-Banner

Thanks to Alexia Gordon for the concept, and thanks to her designer, Leslie Lipps.