All posts by Patricia Smith Wood

About Patricia Smith Wood

Patricia Smith Wood became interested in crime solving and mysteries through her father, a former policeman, and career FBI agent. She became a fan of the Judy Bolton mystery series by Margaret Sutton, and vowed one day to try her hand at crafting her own mysteries. After a long and varied work career (including working for the FBI and owning her own computer business) she retired to work on her writing career. She's published two mysteries in the Harrie McKinsey series, and is working on the third.

Ode To My Computer

I am NOT a poet. However, one evening, in a fit of despair, I created this little diddy.

 Ode To My Computer

101_0687I love you . . .

And I hate you . . .

 

You are my communication tool . . .

You are my encyclopedia . . .

You are my creative companion.

 

You are my nemesis . . .

You are my frustration . . .

You are my enemy.

 

You help me seek out knowledge . . .

You keep me in touch with friends and family . . .

You give me a canvas to paint my words.

 

You give me headaches . . .

You hurt my wrists . . .

You make me groan with despair.

 

You are a genius of engineering . . .

You are an invention of monumental importance . . .

You constantly grow and improve.

 

You defeat me at every turn . . .

You mock me in my ignorance . . .

You withhold results for no apparent reason.

 

Why do I put up with you?

Am I truly such a masochist?

Are you really so impossible to replace?

 

Yes.

A Bountiful August

Now that August 2014 is history, I spent time this week reviewing and discovered what a great month it was for me!

As most writers are painfully aware, marketing your work is not as fun as writing is. In today’s world, even those published by big name houses, backed by PR teams, and marketing specialists, find themselves going out into the world, selling their books. For those of us with smaller houses, the marketing becomes even more focused on the writer.

I discovered last year when The Easter Egg Murder was released that I had a built-in following I had never realized. Among other activities I pursue, I’ve been an amateur radio operator for almost ten years. At least that’s how long I’ve had my license. Back in high school (and I’m not saying how far back that goes!) I was secretary of the Highland High School Amateur Radio Club. I wasn’t licensed then, and I didn’t need to be. The only reason for my membership and participation in that group was my boyfriend at the time. He was president of the club and spent most lunch hours during the week at the club’s radio shack, tinkering with the ham equipment. I wanted to spend my lunch hour with him, ergo I became a member of the club.

Many, many years later, I married that boyfriend, and he was still a ham. Eventually I succumbed to his pleas that I get my license, too, and in August 2005, I passed my Technician’s exam and became a licensed amateur radio operator. Little did I know, some of my biggest fans for The Easter Egg Murder would come from the ranks of other ham radio operators.

In August 2014, the annual Duke City Hamfest came to Albuquerque. I brought along my books, and before I knew it had sold 16 over that weekend.photoThen two weeks later I got a last-minute chance to have a table at the ABQ Home Expo that periodically appears at the NM State Fairgrounds. During that two-day period, I sold 36 books. The next weekend we were off to Continue reading A Bountiful August

The Writing Process Blog Hop

photo 3

Happy Monday to all, and here I go with my challenge this week: The Writing Process Blog Hop.

I think back to the days I dreamed about being a writer (as opposed to actually writing.) Questions swirled in my head about the process, but I didn’t know any real writers to ask. This was long before the Internet and the wealth of information and connections that are possible now.

Today, of course, we have so much information at our fingertips that it often becomes overwhelming. Still we are blessed with having virtual access to many writers and getting a window into their writing lives. That’s what this blog hop is all about. Whether you are currently writing, or still in the dreaming stage, we hope what we have to share here offers insight, instruction, information, or maybe even entertainment. So give us some feedback, if you will. Leave comments here and on the blogs of the writers before and after my post today.

I give thanks to B.C. Stone for tagging me to do this challenge. I met Bryan at a meeting of Croak & Dagger, our Albuquerque chapter of Sisters in Crime. He had a book signing scheduled in the next few days, and I went to see what his books were all about. Much to my delight, he’s taken a glamorous movie star from the 1930s and turned her into the detective protagonist of his series. Kay Francis might not be as well known as Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, and Carol Lombard. But her films were as entertaining as she was beautiful. I love that Bryan chose her to put into his books, along with a cast of other famous stars from that era. Check out Bryan’s blog The Vagrant Mood.

At the end of this post, I’ll tell you all about the two fine authors who will follow me and do their blogs on this subject next week on Monday, July 28. But for now, here are the traveling questions and my responses:

What am I working on? 

On Monday, June 30, 2014, I finished the last chapter of my next book, Murder on Sagebrush Lane (at least that’s the title at this moment!) This is another book featuring my characters from The Easter Egg Murder. I immediately started the editing process and have taken two, almost three, passes at it. My editing partner will return from three weeks of travel this week, and we plan to do an extremely thorough joint editing project for the next two weeks. After that, I have the germ of an idea for the next book in the series.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I write cozy mysteries, in the tradition of—sort of—Agatha Christie. So how could I be different from all those other writers doing the same thing? Easy. We are all such different people, with so many different experiences in life and ways of living those lives. In my case, one thing that’s different is that I set the stories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which greatly pleases my friends living here, and perhaps befuddles readers from other places. The other thing is I draw on the experiences of my family members, many of whom have spent time in law enforcement. Then I drop in a few of the strange and wonderful people I’ve met over my lifetime, and Voila! My mystery is not the same as another writer of the same genre. How could it be?

Why do I write what I do?

Because I LOVE mysteries! Really, that has been my pleasure reading most of my life. Even the early books I read had some sort of mystery going on. I spent part of my early childhood in a home that included, among others, my grandmother, and my great-grandmother. The radio was always on, and at night, the mysteries dominated the airwaves. The inevitability of becoming a fan of that genre was set back then. We had The Thin Man, The Fat Man, Lux Mystery Theater, Inner Sanctum Mystery, The Shadow, The FBI in Peace and War, Dragnet, and the ever popular Johnny Dollar. I sat on my own little bench every night, chin propped in my hands, enthralled with the pictures in my head that accompanied the actors performing the story on radio.

They say do what you love, and for me, that’s mystery!

How does my writing process work?

First I get an idea. Maybe it’s an incident I’ve heard about, or a story on the news. Sometimes it’s just an inciting incident—the thing that starts the story. I think on that over time until I know how to begin. After that, I start seeing the story unfold like a screenplay. I see the people, moving through life, talking, laughing, whatever they are doing. I write down what they say and what they’re doing. Things happen to them, and I am the scribe.

At some point, I have to stop and take inventory of how many subplots are out there, and whether they can stay or if a few should be dumped. Occasionally I go back and insert a plot point earlier to make things work better. That’s one thing that’s so satisfying about fiction: if you don’t like how the story is going, change it!

Okay, those are the questions, and that’s enough about me. Here are the two writers who graciously accepted my invitation to take these same questions and run with them.

Charlene Bell DietzCharleneI’ve known Charlene most of my life. We’ve been friends since seventh grade at Jefferson Junior High. She moved away before high school, and I lost track of her. Imagine my surprise when I discovered she’d been back in Albuquerque for years!

I invited her to attend my writers critique group back in 2005 and we reestablished our earlier friendship. Not only is she an outstanding writer, she’s a very talented artist, too! Here’s Charlene’s bio and info about her book:

 Born and lived in the mountains of Colorado, then New Mexico and Wyoming, and now back in New Mexico where she still resides, Charlene Dietz attended both the University of Wyoming and the University of New Mexico. She received her Bachelor and Masters degrees from UNM focusing on art, science, and education. She later received her administrative certification. She taught and work at all levels, kindergarten through high school and even college. After she retired she traveled across many states doing presentations for Houghton Mifflin Publishing and conducting staff development and school district in-services. Her writing includes published articles, children’s stories, award winning short stories, and Cuba Libre Conspiracies, a commercial fiction mystery that’s looking for a home. Her second book in this series Illusive Inheritance is in progress.

Charlene’s first book, Cuba Libre Conspiracies, is told from the protagonist’s point of view. Beth, a Denver scientist, finds her marriage failing and her research sabotaged when an estranged aunt, Kathleen, slams into her life and, to Beth’s exasperation, institutes a nightly cocktail hour complete with roaring 20’s stories. With their conflicting opinions and personalities ping-ponging off each other, Beth’s perception of her carefully planned life changes. She carelessly plunges herself into danger to unravel her corporate espionage mystery. In the process she discovers a disturbing family secret.

Go here to read some of Charlene’s wonderful blog posts: http://www.inkydancestudios.wordpress.com

Joseph BadalJoeBadalphoto

Joe is, in addition to being a talented thriller writer, one of the kindest and most generous people I’ve met on this journey. He has a long string of books published over the last eleven years. I first met him at a Southwest Writers meeting where he was the featured speaker. He helped me with editing my book and offered some really good suggestions. Then he came through for me again by agreeing to be one of the writers I tagged for the Writing Process Blog Hop. Here is Joe’s bio and information:

Joseph Badal worked for 38 years in the financial services industry, retiring in 2007 after 6 years as a director and senior executive of a New York Stock Exchange-listed company.

Before he began his finance career, Joe was a decorated military officer, having served in the U.S. army for 6 years, including tours of duty in Vietnam and Greece.

He also served in the New Mexico House of Representatives.

He has had seven suspense novels published: The Pythagorean Solution, Evil Deeds, Terror Cell, The Nostradamus Secret, Shell Game, The Lone Wolf Agenda (which was awarded first prize in the fiction category in the NM/AZ Book Awards in 2013), and Ultimate Betrayal which was released on April 22, 2014. His short story, Fire & Ice, was included in the anthology Uncommon Assassins in 2012, and his short story, Ultimate Betrayal, was included in the anthology Someone Wicked in 2013. He is a member of International Thriller Writers and Southwest Writers Workshop, and was recently named one of the 50 best authors you should be reading.

Joe has written dozens of published articles about various business topics and is a frequent speaker at writers and business conferences and at civic organization meetings. He has extensive experience as an interviewee on radio and television.

Check out Joe’s blog at www.jospehbadal.wordpress.com.

 

 

 

 

I’m Glad You Asked – Guest Blog Appearance

MAY 15, 2014

I’m Glad You Asked. http://cncbooksblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/16/im-glad-you-asked/

This is the latest Guest Blog appearance I’ve done since The Easter Egg Murder was published last year.

I would appreciate having as many people as possible read it and comment on it. A Guest Blogger needs to “deliver the goods” by bringing people to the blog site and getting them to express interest. When a post is well received, people ask you back to post another day. That’s what I hope happens for me.

So please check it out and leave a comment there.

Talk to you later!

And Now, The Tucson Festival of Books!

The weekend is almost here, and I’m almost ready.

The Tucson Festival of Books is a huge event, held each year in Tucson, Arizona. I’ve heard about it for years and have wanted to attend. But the stars never seemed to be aligned properly to permit it.

Last year about this same time, two of my writing buddies and I drove north to Colorado Springs for the 2013 Left Coast Crime gathering. The Tucson Festival was going on about that same time, so once again I wouldn’t make it. Left Coast Crime is also a really big event and we had a fabulous time. It was my debut as a newly published writer, Continue reading And Now, The Tucson Festival of Books!

Other Than That, Mrs. Lincoln, Did You Enjoy The Play?

MONKEY
Pat’s Unhappy Face

I am, for the most part, an upbeat person. I don’t get hysterical–well maybe just a little when I see a spider or a creepy, crawly, bug–but I’m pretty even-tempered. Sure I have some down days, but usually I’m a happy camper. If you’ll refer to one of my past posts, Sometimes Dreams Come True you’ll see I was a VERY happy camper back in September 2012 when I received the official offer Continue reading Other Than That, Mrs. Lincoln, Did You Enjoy The Play?

Saying Goodbye

1968 Sweet Adelines Convention
1969 Sweet Adelines Convention

 

I said, “Goodbye” to a friend today. I’m planning to go back after the weekend, but you never know.

She’s had a rough life: full of physical illness, childhood trauma, loss of a child shortly after birth, divorce, and the ravages of age. She’s less than three months away from her 87th birthday. Her current state of health is dismal and the family’s been told it’s only a matter of three or four weeks. She agreed to enter hospice the day before yesterday. For the moment she’s still in her own home, with a nurse checking on her daily, and her son and daughter taking turns staying with her.

She’s had more surgeries than I can remember. What I do recall Continue reading Saying Goodbye

Monday Observations

This morning was a fairly typical beginning of the week. I’m looking to get organized for the next seven days, and I’m brimming with insights.

DSCF22331.  I’ve Become My Father – No lie, I remember when I was much younger, I saw my father entering into “old fogeyness” (if that’s not a word it should be!) It seemed to me he railed against everything new and, in my opinion, exciting. Whereas all my life we’d enjoyed the same music, now he thought Elvis Presley was too loud and vulgar. Not only that, but his conversations were peppered with phrases like, “Well when I was young . . .”; “In my day we were more . . . ” and similar observations. I think he would love being here now to see Continue reading Monday Observations

And now, we present The Easter Egg Murder on Kindle!!!

Easter Egg on KindleLadies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, talking parrots and animals of good taste! This is the announcement I’ve been waiting for—The Easter Egg Murder is now available on Kindle!

I was excited when the actual book was delivered into my hands. I could thumb through its pages, knowing these were my words, and now everybody could read them. But the world has changed in the last couple of years (yes, no kidding! It has! Just look around at all the new gadgets!) Now many readers prefer  to acquire their books in e-book form. Those of you who still prefer the feel and heft of a book in your hand, to be able to turn those paper pages, even to makes notes in the margins, my book is still available to you in that format. But for those who eschew building more bookshelves to contain your literature, the Kindle is a Godsend. Those of you who own one already know that  hundreds and hundreds of books can be stored for your reading pleasure. It’s a small device, easily transported, and far easier to rely on when on the road. Armloads of books no longer need to be taken in suitcases to satisfy your thirst for reading.

I’m beyond excited to reach this goal. You can even “take a look inside” now! It shows the first couple of chapters to entice you into purchasing.

I would love to learn there had been a major swarm of mystery readers clicking on The Easter Egg Murder and either downloading it to their Kindle or deciding to become the owner of the paperback book. Either way, I encourage you to check it out. I hope you will be pleasantly surprised by the story.

Conferences, Confidences, and Chums

The wind that should have blown in March, continues into April, and I’m so tired of it! I cough a great deal, and it makes me edgy and unsettled. I’m ready for the REAL spring!DSCN1460 DSCN1305 DSCN1334 - Version 2 DSCN1304 DSCN1302

We had a fabulous trip to Colorado Springs in March at Left Coast Crime. We arrived on Wednesday afternoon late, and all was fine until we woke up Saturday morning to a icy cold day with snow all over the place! It wouldn’t have been so bad except our hotel rooms were all separated from the main building that housed the conference and eating facilities. It also caused a huge delay in our long-anticipated Saturday afternoon interview of Craig Johnson by Lou Diamond Philips.  Poor Lou was stuck in the airport in Albuquerque waiting for the Denver airport to start receiving flights. He finally arrived during the banquet Saturday night about 9:30 p.m. The interview got going at 11 p.m. (only seven hours later than scheduled!) But Lou and Craig were great troopers and were in fine form.

I tremendously enjoyed the panels I sat on. It felt really good to finally be up there as a published author. The Sunday morning panel was the best of all. Catriona McPherson is a hoot! She had everybody in stitches, and the panelists went along for the fun-filled ride. Catriona was born in Scotland and has the most delicious accent. She won the Bruce Alexander Historical mystery award the night before at the banquet, so spirits were high for the 9 a.m. session. The authors on that panel were such good ad libbers, and the questions kept the audience laughing. We all had a great time, and it was the perfect top off for the conference.

My traveling chums, Charlene (our intrepid driver) and Margaret (my wing-woman) were such fun to be with. Our rides up and back were non-stop conversation. This did not and does not surprise my husband in the least. He maintains that each time our critique group gets together (of which Charlene and Margaret are members) the talk is constant, simultaneous and impossible for him to follow tucked away in his office down the hall. He says we make his head spin, and he closes his door to shut us out. He says men’s head are filled with individual boxes. A guy takes out one box, which contains one subject, like perhaps sports, and he deals with that subject. Then he puts that box away and takes out a box for some other subject. He even has a boxed labeled “Nothing” and when he has that box open, and his wife asks him what he’s thinking, he says, “Nothing,” and it’s completely true!

Women, on the other hand, have all these wires crisscrossing back and forth in their brains. He says we access everything, all at once, all the time. To illustrate to me how my mind and that of my friends works, he places his fingers above his head, wiggles them frantically, and makes a long, drawn-out buzzing sound. He sounds like a bee, and he says that’s what our brains do.

But I digress. We had informative, instructive and deeply revealing conversations both up there and coming back. The only thing better would be hiring a driver with a van that would hold eleven of us, and we could all talk, all the time, the entire trip. Of course, we’d have to put the driver in a sound proof booth, or he’d lose is mind!

Hey, maybe that would be the thing for Left Coast Crime 2014 in Monterrey, California!