Month: November 2019

MEMBER ARTICLE – Ripped From the Headlines: Turning Fact into Fiction

Ripped from the Headlines: Turning Fact into Fiction

by Pamela Samuels Young

 

It’s rare for me to remember the precise moment that a story idea comes to me. With my most recent legal thriller, Failure to Protect, that wasn’t the case.

I was talking by phone with a friend on Christmas day in 2018, when she mentioned the unrelated suicide deaths of two nine-year-old girls who had been victims of bullying. I was stunned to learn that children so young would even know how to take their own lives. After our conversation, I read news stories about their deaths, I shed a few tears and found it hard to sleep that night. The next morning, I knew this was a subject I wanted to tackle in a legal thriller. I framed the girls’ pictures and placed them on my desk for inspiration.

For the next few weeks, I read books and online materials, and interviewed educators and mental health professionals. I was stunned to learn that the suicide rate for African-American kids under 12 was twice that of white kids. While I wanted to write a compelling legal thriller, I also wanted to shine a light on this tragedy. The result was my 14th book, Failure to Protect, which went on sale in October 2019.

If you’re thinking about penning a novel based on a news story or some real-life situation, here are three tips to help you get started.

 

  1. Entertain and Educate Simultaneously

Because bullying and child suicide aren’t exactly subjects that the average mystery reader might gravitate toward, it was crucial for me to craft an engaging plot. I began by creating a character readers would love to hate. My villain, so to speak, is an elementary school principal who is more concerned about her career than acknowledging any bullying at her school. When she’s sued by the grieving mother of a bullied child, it’s a great scenario for conflict. Readers immediately root for the mother and rally for the principal to “get hers.” While they’re lost in the legal drama, I’ve peppered the story with important information.

  1. Be Delicate, not Preachy with the Facts

While I wanted to raise awareness about bullying and child suicide, I didn’t want to bombard readers with mental health theories and statistics. So, I was careful to proceed lightly with key information that I wanted to communicate. For example, mental health professionals despise the phrase “committed suicide.” They feel that language stigmatizes the victim and consider it akin to saying someone “committed cancer.” Their preferred phrase is “died by suicide.” It was very easy to communicate this by having a character correct someone who uses the wrong language.

  1. Rely on Experts

I found a ton of information on the internet about bullying, childhood depression and child suicide. Still, I wasn’t comfortable writing about such important subjects without firsthand information from experts in those fields. I reached out to numerous educators, organizations and mental health professionals mentioned in articles I found online. Several people willingly agreed to interviews which gave me deeper insight into the topics. Two people in particular, a professor of psychiatry at Howard University and another at New York University, even agreed to read the manuscript. Their suggested changes and final blessings gave me the comfort level that my message was correct.

Many writers pen novels sparked by real-life events. If that’s your goal, aim to get the facts right.

Learn more about Pamela Samuels Young and her works at http://www.pamelasamuelsyoung.com/

MEMBER ARTICLE – The Art of Conversation as Interview

The Art of Conversation as Interview

by Eva Montealegre

 

Interviews are about question and answer. People can be completely unacquainted. A little description, a bit of history, some back and forth and voila, you have an interview. The best interviews do have the quality of a conversation. These interviews can run the gamut from delightful to painful. I don’t recommend it, but I must admit that heated discussions and even hostile questioning can make for a fantastic, unforgettable interview. I am in mind of the historical Barbara Walters and Fidel Castro interview. I remember Fidel blowing cigar smoke in Barbara’s face after she asked pointed questions about his policies and her pointed look of disdain. Everybody wanted to see that interview. For the most part, the best interviews are manned by an informed and passionate interviewer and a willing and forthcoming interviewee.

The most important ingredient to a great conversation is respect between the personalities. It’s fantastic to listen to conversations of people who know each other or have been best of friends or close colleagues for years. However, it’s not absolutely required that people in a conversation know each other. Perhaps they know of each other or are familiar with each other’s work. Or the subject that they are discussing is an area of expertise for both. One person in the conversation can be less informed than the other but hit on good points or bring up interesting viewpoints that the more seasoned person can respond to or address. The ability to listen is a large aspect of any good conversation. Teasing and sparring are often the spice thrown into conversations between more competitive or old-friend types. Sometimes authors of two completely different genres of books can have a profound and illuminating conversation.

My favorite conversations are when the participants accidently hit on deeper themes and more personal insights. Thoughtful questions, contemplative responses get me going. Unexpected reveals of previously unknown or unsaid matters is an aspect of conversation that I enjoy. These are often stumbled upon or come up without pretense. Very serious matters that are not always the topic of an interview can be most stimulating and intriguing. I’m always on the quest of having an experience, a sharing moment with the personalities involved. It’s not something that can be forced but it is helpful if one is open and allows the conversation to flow. In these types of exchanges something of value is gleaned. In a true exchange, I find the best conversations leave me feeling like I know the person better, that I gave something of myself in an authentic way and perhaps even shared a good laugh or two.

I’ve had the privilege of interviewing several respected crime writers including Barbara Seranella, T. Jefferson Parker, Robert Eversz and Michael Connelly. Michael Brandman and I had an impromptu conversation event at the Mystery Galaxy bookstore at a publicized signing. Charles Gordone and other personalities were people from my personal history that Brandman also had a few stories about, so the conversation emerged lively and enjoyable on all counts.

Eva Montealegre is author of Body on the Back Lot, available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

A Joan Lambert book, first in the RED CARPET NOIR series

www.redcarpetnoir.com for more information

Sisters in Crime/LA Member Appearances – December 2019

Here’s where you can see our members in person this coming month (and subsequent months), or where you can find them – or their content – in media outlets! It is updated throughout the month with last minute additions and changes, so keep checking back!


PERSONAL APPEARANCES

 

Mike Befeler’s mystery novel, The Front Wing (ISBN 978-1-948338-95-0) will be released in November, 2019. Mike will be presenting and signing at Gatsby Books 5535 E. Spring St, Long Beach, on Sunday December 8, 2019, at 3 PM, and at Book Carnival 348 S. Tustin Ave., Orange, CA, on Sunday December 15 at 3 PM along with Jeri Westerson.

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LOST TOMORROWS, the sixth novel in Matt Coyle‘s award-winning Rick Cahill Crime series, hits the bookshelves on December 3rd. Matt will be making appearances at the following stores.
Dec. 3 Warwick’s in La Jolla
Dec. 6 Book Passage in  Corte Madera
Dec. 7 Book Carnival Orange
Dec. 10 Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale

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Evening Herald & Express reporter Aggie Underwood bore witness to the biggest stories of her day.  Learn more about this fascinating Angeleno with crime historian Joan Renner as we celebrate the 117th year of her birth at the Central Library in downtown Los Angeles on December 21, 2019 at 2 p.m. and yes, there will be cake.

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Marcia Rosen and Jory Rosen will be signing at the following locations in December.

CARMEL
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 8TH 1-3PM
RIVER HOUSE BOOKS
CROSSROADS SHOPPING CENTER

SALINAS
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 20TH, 4-7PM
DOWNTOWN BOOK AND SOUND
213 MAIN STREET

CARMEL
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 22, 10-NOON
COFFEE BANK
26135 CARMEL RANCHO SHOPPING CENTER (Across from The Barnyard)

LOS ANGELES/ORANGE
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2-4PM
BOOK CARNIVAL: MYSTERIES AND SUSPENSE BOOKS
348 S. TUSTIN STREET

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Laurie Stevens will be one of the guest authors at the Studio City Library’s “Trivia Night for Mystery Lovers” on Thursday, December 12 at 6 pm. 12511 Moorpark St, Studio City. Text your expertise or simply come and have fun!

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Jeri Westerson will be at the following locations: Sunday, December 15, 3 pm — Book Carnival. A joint event with author Mike Belefer with his Harold and Bella Paranormal Mystery series. Jeri will be bringing The Daemon Device and they will talk paranormal! Free raffle. 348 S Tustin St, Orange, CA 92866

MEDIA APPEARANCES

Pamela Samuels Young recently appeared on KTLA to discuss her newest legal thriller, Failure to Protect, which deals with the bullying epidemic.

SISTERS IN CRIME/LA November 2019 Meeting Recap

Laurie Stevens read from one of her books.

Special Agent Thomas J. Leighton: Unmasking Evil

by Shannon Muir Broden

Special Agent Thomas J. Leighton gave those in attendance an overview of the structure of the FBI. In addition, he provided a forum for guests to ask questions tailored to their area of interest.

He explained that while Headquarters for the FBI is in Washington, D.C., there are 56 field offices (of which Los Angeles is one of them).  Today, the scope of what the Los Angeles field office covers includes Orange and Ventura counties. On a lower level, they have what are called Resident Agencies; this goes back historically to where individual agents worked out of their homes.

The formation of the FBI goes back to 1908, focused on dealing with crimes of a federal nature. One Herbert J. (later to be President) Hoover was named its first Director in 1924. The types of crimes that it has dealt with has grown and changed over the years. One thing Special Agent Leighton emphasized was that books, film, and television don’t always get it right to where the FBI comes in as having jurisdiction, but terrorism is clearly an area where the FBI would have jurisdiction.

The audience asked about DNA analysis, witness protection, white collar crime, and if the FBI ever hired psychics… just to give a glimpse into a few of the specialized requests for information. This was one of those events you really needed to be there for!

 

Keep checking our MEETING DATES page as well as the homepage for a list of upcoming events and their locations. WE WILL NO LONGER BE MEETING AT THE SOUTH PASADENA LIBRARY COMMUNITY ROOM BEGINNING IN 2020.

Sisters in Crime/LA Offers “Write-Ins” for NaNoWriMo!

Sisters in Crime/LA, for the first time ever, offers “write-ins” throughout November to help support other authors who want to participate in National Novel Writing Month, or work on their own projects in a group setting. Here’s a list of all the “write-ins” offered for November 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

If you attend a “write-in,” we’d love to hear your feedback in the Community.

Please note these events are in no way directly affiliated with National Novel Writing Month, but happen to occur in this time frame as a source of potential support.

Sisters in Crime/LA Community Topic for November 2019

Check out our new Community at https://sinclablog.wordpress.com/, a WordPress blog driven by members interacting through blog post comments.

Each month, besides our evergreen topics, we offer specific monthly suggested topics. For this month, it’s: Plotter or Pantser?

 

Come check out https://sinclablog.wordpress.com/2019/11/01/november-2019-topic-plotter-or-pantser/ and be part of the discussion!

Sisters in Crime/LA Member Appearances – November 2019

Here’s where you can see our members in person this coming month (and subsequent months), or where you can find them – or their content – in media outlets! It is updated throughout the month with last minute additions and changes, so keep checking back!


PERSONAL APPEARANCES

 

Members Ellen Byron , Laura Levine and Mary Marks will all participate in the Kensington Cozy Club Convention: Western USA Region – Day 1, with Day 2 happening in San Diego. Here’s the full details on the local Saturday portion taking place in Redondo Beach,

Date: Saturday, November 16th, 2019, 12:00-4:00PM

Bookseller: Mysterious Galaxy / Creating Conversations

Venue: Redondo Beach Library

303 N. Pacific Coast Hwy., Redondo Beach, CA 90277

Cost to Attend: FREE

Authors:

Christin Blum

Laura Bradford

Christin Brecher

Lynn Cahoon

Maria DiRico (Ellen Byron)

Peggy Ehrhart

C.M. Gleason / Colleen Gleason

Debra H. Goldstein

J.D. Griffo

Lee Hollis

Cheryl Hollon

Linda Johnson

Kathleen Krevat

Victoria Laurie

Laura Levine

Mary Marks

Sarah Osborne

Misty Simon

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Mike Befeler’s mystery novel, The Front Wing (ISBN 978-1-948338-95-0) will be released in November, 2019. Mike will be presenting and signing at Gatsby Books 5535 E. Spring St, Long Beach, on Sunday December 8, 2019, at 3 PM, and at Book Carnival 348 S. Tustin Ave., Orange, CA, on Sunday December 15 at 3 PM.

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Ellen Byron will be moderating the panel, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go: Settings in Fiction,” at Ladies of Intrigue on November 8th. Panelists include Greta Boris, Rachel Howzell Hall, and Wendall Thomas.

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Tori Eldridge launches The Ninja Daughter—her debut mystery/thriller about a Chinese-Norwegian modern-day ninja in Los Angeles—at Book Soup on Tuesday, November 5th, 7pm. (8818 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood) Come celebrate with food and wine as Tori discusses, reads, and signs her first book in the Lily Wong series.

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Mister in Crime August Norman, and his debut thriller, COME AND GET ME: A Caitlin Bergman Novel, will be at  Bouchercon in Dallas, October 31-November 3, including the Sisters in Crime breakfast on Friday, November 1st.

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Joan Renner will be a keynote speaker at the Sacramento Library’s True Crime Mini-Con on Saturday, November 16, 2019, 828 I Street, Sacramento, CA 95814

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Laurie Stevens will join Steph Cha and Kaira Rouda on the Fear Factor panel at the 6th Annual Orange County SinC Ladies of Intrigue. Moderator: Barbara DeMarco-Barrett. Sunday, November 10th from 8 am to 3 pm.  Also, she will present an interactive Thriller Workshop at the Conejo Valley Writer’s Club on Saturday, November 16th 1:30 to 2:30.

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Jeri Westerson will be at the following locations: Saturday, November 2, 3 to 4 pm — El Segundo Library Author Fair. Jeri will be on the 3 pm author panel of mystery authors. Books for sale immediately after the panel. El Segundo Public Library 111 West Mariposa Avenue, El Segundo, CA 90245

Thursday, November 7, 10:30 am to noon — Foothill Ranch Library First Thursday Book Discussion. Come join the group to discuss books. Books for sale and signing. Foothill Ranch Library 27002 Cabriole, Foothill Ranch, CA 92610

Sunday, November 17, 2 to 4 pm — Sisters in Crime Author Panel in the community room of the Thousand Oaks Library. A panel of mystery authors entitled “Dying Laughing”, how we inject humor into our murders. 1401 East Janss Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362. Books for sale.

 

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On November 14th, The Partnership Scholars Program is hosting a literary event for teens featuring Pamela Samuels Young and her young adult mysteries about child sex trafficking (#Anybody’s Daughter) and teen sexting (#Abuse of Discretion).

 

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ON THE RUN: Australian Crime Writers in America
A panel with
Sulari Gentill * Robert Gott* Jock Serong * Emma Viskic
Moderator: Pasadena author and Sisters in Crime member Désirée Zamorano
Saturday, November 9, 5:00 PM
Flintridge Bookstore and Coffeehouse – 1010 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada Flintridge, CA

 

Member Notes and News – November 2019

To get the latest on New Releases from our members, subscribe to the WHAT’S NEW THIS MONTH newsletter from the right hand side of any page on the website.

MEMBER NOTES AND NEWS lets you in on other types of releases and items of interest about our members.


 

Dead Write, the fourth book in Sheila Lowe’s Forensic Handwriting series will be released as an audiobook around the end of October, beginning of November. The fabulous Anna Crowe, who has given voice to three of the other books in the series, is the narrator.

 

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“A Matter of Options” is Gary Phillips’ short story riffing on the Great Gatsby meets Chester Himes in the new anthology From Sea to Stormy Sea.  Each story is inspired by a painting.  In this case it was Reginald Marsh’s Depression-era “Why Not Take the L.”  From Pegasus Books, November 19.

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