Goodbye February!

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February 29th has arrived, the month almost over, and my birthday is six days behind me. I’ve finally come up for air after spending the entire month working on wips (works in progress) adding new chapters to the second book in my Celtic murder mystery series, fresh stories in new worlds for my second book of short stories, additional poems for publication, all the while juggling life’s daily (and necessary) interruptions.

Where has the time gone?

Who cares, I’m writing!

Thank You!

Me and Fayetteville's Mayor Lioneld Jordan

Me (left) and Fayetteville’s Mayor Lioneld  Jordan 

Wanted to take a moment to express my appreciation to all the great people who attended the book sales and signing at Nightbird Books yesterday. Had a wonderful turnout of authors and book lovers and enjoyed visiting with all of you.

Even the Mayor of Fayetteville, Mr. Lioneld Jordan, dropped by and purchased a signed copy of my short story book. We swapped stories of growing up in Arkansas and shooting marbles, a subject covered in one of the book’s short stories called ‘The Marble King.’ “Thank you, Mr. Mayor.”

A special note of acknowledgement and appreciation to Lisa at Nightbird Books for allowing local authors the opportunity to display their work. “Thank you, Lisa.”

Folklore In Fiction

Here’s a re-blog of fellow Arkansas writer, Susan A. Holmes, on ‘Folklore In Fiction’ with an excerpt from her book Deadly Ties. She will be speaking at the Fayetteville, Arkansas Public Library, October 11th from 2 – 4 p.m. Event will include her presentation, questions and answers, meet and greet, and books sales and signings.  Don’t miss this opportunity to visit with the author. More information on the presentation can be found here.

And now, the re-blog:

Folklore in Fiction

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The Yokum Dollar

I’m an “up close and personal” kind of researcher. So when I’m working on my regional series, that means I’m often out in the hills, meeting people and listening to the stories that have been handed down, one generation to the next, keeping the old legends alive. The story of the Yokum Dollar is one of those legends that I heard on multiple occasions, with each storyteller claiming some connection with the families involved. I stayed true to the heart of the tale when writing the legend into my own book, while fictionalizing elements as needed to suit the plot. Here’s the excerpt from Deadly Ties:

*

….Maggie wandered among the exhibits, watching craftsmen make brooms and baskets, tapping her foot to the dulcimer music, and listening to the storytellers who had drawn a sizable crowd in the shade of tall oaks. She stopped to listen to a woman dressed in a style Maggie imagined was common among frontier women long ago. Sturdy boots peeked out from beneath the hem of her skirt, and the simple cotton blouse she wore looked homespun. Her steel gray hair was tucked beneath a bonnet.

“This here story has been handed down through my family ever since 1826,” the woman told the audience. “That’s about the time the first Yokum—that’d be Jamie Lee Yokum—settled along the big river herabouts. My family farmed the land down-river from the Yokum place, which is how I come to know this tale.”

“This land belonged to the Chickasaw tribe, and they were good neighbors, always sharing what they had. They were good traders, too, and pretty near famous for their beautiful silver jewelry. They always had plenty of silver but nobody knew—’cept the Indians, of course—where it all came from. Some said it was from a silver mine, and some claimed it was Spanish silver, but nobody knew for sure.

“When the government decided they wanted the Indians’ land, the Yokums traded some of their wagons and supplies in exchange for information about the source of that silver. As the story goes, the Indians shared their secret with Jamie Lee. They told him where he might find some of that silver, and he told his brothers. Times being what they was, and money being about as hard to come by as an honest politician, the Yokums decided to use that silver and make their own coin. They minted their own dollars with that there silver. For years, people all over the Ozarks used the Yokum dollars as legal tender.”

The storyteller looked across the crowd. “Well, you can probably guess what happened next. The federal government didn’t take too kindly to somebody else making money. They didn’t like the competition, my granddaddy said.” There were chuckles and murmurs of agreement from some in the crowd.

“The federal agents confiscated all the Yokum dollars they could get their hands on. What they really wanted was the source of that silver, but Jamie Lee wouldn’t tell ‘em where to find it. After a while, the agents gave up and went back to Washington.”

The storyteller paused for a sip of lemonade. “It wasn’t long after that when Jamie Lee Yokum passed away. His two brothers died soon after, crossing the Rockies on their way out to California. Those men were the only ones who knew the Indians’ secret and they took that secret to their graves, but they did leave some clues in letters they’d written to their cousins. Over the years, a lot of people have searched high and low for that silver, but nobody’s ever found it. But who knows? Maybe you’ll be the one to learn the truth about the Indian Silver Legend.”

Deadly Ties © 2013

 *

To this day, people continue to search for the famed silver, with many a treasure hunter convinced a mine or cave does indeed exist somewhere in the hills. Some believe the answer lies near or under Beaver Lake in Arkansas while others argue the location is Table Rock Lake in Missouri. And so the legend lives on…

Author Event Promo, Fayetteville Public Library

HolmesBookSigningLibrary

Find out more about Susan, her book Deadly Ties, and her Waterside Kennels Mystery series  by visiting her website at www.dogmysteries.com

Creating A Lovable Villain

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Check out the blog writersinthestorm for some wonderful tips in a short, well-written article about creating a lovable villain by award-winning author Shannon Donnelly (Under The Kissing Bough) as she speaks of “villains we love to hate and how to keep them from becoming a cardboard stereotype whose every action is predictable and boring.”

“Nothing marks a writer as a beginner as clearly as the cliché bad guy.

This is the bad guy who is ugly inside and out with no redeeming qualities—this is the “boo-hiss” melodrama mustache twirling villain. And this is an easy fix in any story.

What’s that easy fix? Lots of things can help, but here are five quick fixes:

5 Quick Fixes to Make Readers Love Your Villains” –Shannon Donnelly

The article is definitely worth the read and I found myself thinking of one of my villains as I read Shannon’s advice.

I won’t say the assassin in “The Mystery of the Death Hearth” is exactly a lovable creature. Parzifal is, after all, a person who makes a living by killing. But he does have depth; that is to say as the story progresses, more is revealed about his background, his parents, his past and the horrid conditions among the less-than-honorable slave owners that helped create his inevitable destiny as a professional killer. He also has present-day motives that go beyond the daily, murderous tasks given him by criminal bosses. Parzifal has plans, high hopes for a new life, and a mental image of possibilities beyond his current circumstances having nothing at all to do with underworld crime. Does he manage to accomplish those personal goals? Can he successfully break away and fulfill his dreams? No spoilers here but I almost found myself rooting for this man even though he can and does make my protagonist’s life miserable to the brink of death.

I encourage a visit to writersinthestorm and read the rest of the Shannon’s article. Very interesting and informative.

Your next villain will appreciate it, too.

Poem And Plot

Succumbing to temptation, a small group of conspirators scheme to procure a sacred Celtic site by eliminating all obstacles—including the Celtic stewards. This is one of several twisting plot lines in The Corpsemakers, the WIP manuscript for the second book in the Runevision Mystery series.

Just as in the first book, The Mystery Of The Death Hearth, each chapter is preceded by a poem or short narrative setting the mood and tone. Here’s one:

Oh, Greed, so obvious your smile;

Want and Desire so blatant.

Reveal your Lust for material gain,

Of Profit and minted coin.

Omitting Oaths you have foresworn

As the pucker of your Aspirations

Lead you into Darker stations.

May 2015 Be A Productive Year!

Back home  after an enjoyable holiday trip and already busy with two more short stories for my paranormal anthology, work on the second book in my Celtic mystery series, and additional rework and editing of last year’s WIP murder mystery first draft manuscript set in fictional 1950s Logan County, Arkansas.

In addition to  writing, I’m currently reading and enjoying three books: one a Christmas present, Bergoglio’s List, about the life and times of Pope Francis by Nello Scavo. The second is on loan titled Coronado’s Children by J. Frank Dobie. The third is a fascinating story by Irish author Ali Isaac titled Conor Kelly And The Four Treasures Of Eirean.

Coffee is ready. Back to writing!

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

― Stephen King