About Me

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I have discovered that walking a very narrow path leads to broad places of peace, contentment, and provision. I work as a freelance consultant in the areas of cultural heritage, public history and museums, From 2009-2016, I was the executive director of the Bolduc House Museum in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, (now called New France - the OTHER Colonial America, an eighteenth century French colonial historic site and National Historic Landmark.) My PhD research for the University of Leicester (United Kingdom) is in the Department of Museum Studies and looks at the interpretation of diversity at the American Historic House Museum. I also developed and facilitate an inspirational program for Christian grandparents, Gathering Grandparents.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Coincidence?

I was talking about Stuck in the Mud with a volunteer at our museum yesterday. When I mentioned that one of the three corpses washed up at the Ste. Genevieve marina, he became very animated. "I found a floater once," he said. "I was working on a barge and we saw this guy - he was falling apart in the water." Then he described how the body was removed from the river with a crane and a body board to keep the corpse intact. Do you think this is just a coincident, some serendipitous interchange that just happened to take place when I was working on the discovery and removal of a floater. I am definitely incorporating what he told me into this story

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Missing the Clam Juice

I do not enjoy gratuitous sex scenes in novels. In fact, I see very little reason for there ever to be explicit descriptions of such activity. Nuance and innuendo works just fine for me as a reader. But, now that I have moved on to writing the second chapter of Stuck in the Mud, I find myself wondering how essential it is to make the protagonist - Aileen, in this case- the victim of some violent targeted effort to get her off the track of the killer or killers. Perhaps it is expected. But is it a must-have ingredient for a successful mystery novel?

I resist following patterns, recipes, or the usual procedures when there is obvious space for creativity.

People who have known me for a long time understand that they will never get exactly the same recipe twice when they eat at my house. I may knit dozens of Christmas stockings but I'll never use the same design twice. I love to read cookbooks but I don't make the meals described. I read them for the ideas - this spice goes with that set of ingredients, this technique makes that effect, this tool produces that result... If I eat something at a restaurant that I like I'll try to duplicate it at home and usually succeed on the first try.

The longest it ever took me to figure out a recipe was for the pasta con broccoli at the Rich & Charlie's restaurant in St. Louis. The ingredient that nearly stumped me was clam juice.

So writing this first mystery novel - hopefully this first of a series of mystery novels- feels a lot like recreating that pasta recipe. I'm trying to identify and properly incorporate the essential ingredients and I hope I'm not missing the clam juice.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Small Town Gossip

The first chapter of Stuck in the Mud has been written and rewritten several times and I feel that I can move on to the next chapter especially now that I understand the role that several of the characters will have - not in terms of the plot but as vehicles to reveal mood and emotions to the readers.

I am astounded by how challenging it is to write a murder mystery especially because they are my default recreational reading. Chapter two will probe the character of Mat and introduce the town's cast of eclectic real people...I think.

Mat serves as the emotive person whose over the top reactions accentuate the stoic that is Aileen. The townspeople are the information spreaders as is true here like in every small town that has a bar and a coffee shop. By noon everyone already knows what washed up at the marina and is prepared to commiserate to hear the details from Mat and Aileen's own mouths...

Friday, April 06, 2012

Wisdom of a fiction writer

"Note by what fragile and unknown threads the destinies of nations and the lives of men are suspended." - Alexander Dumas in Three Musketeers.

Exactly what I want to demonstrate in my writing.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Inevitable Unexpected

According to Aristotle, cited by Hallie and Whit Burnett in Fiction Writer's Handbook, "We keep reading in hopes of coming to a conclusion both 'inevitable and unexpected'".

I think this is right - but that more than just applying to our motivation for reading could it be a description of any authentic truth: inevitable and unexpected? Like when Solomon concluded that the resolution to the dispute about which mother's baby was the live son was to slice the child in two or when resurrection forced the grave open to deny Satan the crucifixion's booty and any legitimate power over us earthlings...

The issue for me now is how to craft Stuck in the Mud so that it leads readers to such an inevitable unexpected resolution .... I think Pastor's Ex-Wife does that - you'll have to read it and let me know if you agree.