Saturday, March 22, 2014


7 Reasons Why Current Novel Was Hardest to Write


The second novel in my Black Belt Mystery series is coming out this June, yay!  It will be called Murder with Altitude, by Sue Star.  It's the hardest book I've ever written so far.  Why?  

1.  It's a mystery.  

Mysteries are extra hard (at least, for me) to write.  My long-time friend Tom Schantz of The Rue Morgue once told me that mysteries are solved because of a mistake that the villain makes.  (These are my words.  He said it originally much better.)  So, that means as author I have to know what that mistake is and how it will lead to capture of the villain, which also means I have to know who are the suspects and the informants and how the trail of clues will lead the sleuth to discovery of the villain.  It's like a puzzle, and all the pieces have to work together.  Too many pieces, or the wrong pieces, make a mess.  

2.  That rascal Villain changed on me.  

Being a pantser, or writing by the seat of my pants, or writing into the dark, I write the story to discover what the story is.  Just when I thought I had it figured out, the plot and characters took off in a different direction, giving me a different villain, which meant I had to adjust the clues, and then all the threads started unraveling, which meant I had to…  

3.  Redraft.  

I redrafted 12 times.  Ugh.  This book came close to being stillborn, but I couldn't let it go.  

4.  Life Happens.  

We wouldn't have anything to write about if life didn't happen!  After 3 trips to Europe, a new granddaughter, and time being Nana, I now have at least a dozen more projects in the queue to write about, projects that have distracted me with tempting research into English history, canal boats, and Brazilian crime.  

5.  Starting and Stopping.

This is similar to being a painter and getting knocked off your ladder with a tray of paints.  You have to pick yourself up, clean up the spilled paints, and climb back on the ladder.  Now, where was I?  

6.  Other writing projects.  

While writing my 12 drafts, two other novels came out under my pen names:  The Jigsaw Window, by Cameron Kennedy, a novel that shows a family healing after Alzheimer's tears them apart; and The Mound Dwellers, by Minta Monroe, a novel about ghosts and a young woman's return to the family homestead.  I also kept up writing short stories and sold two of them.  More about those later.  

7.  Technology upgrades, learning curves, and computer crashes, dontcha love 'em??  


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Reasons #4, #3, #2, and #1

Here are the last 4 reasons why I love the Caribbean (especially in winter)!

4.  Colorful buildings


Colonial zones of Cartagena and Santo Domingo






3.  Inspiration for stories and paintings


The botanical gardens in Santo Domingo were once a military encampment for Trujillo.





2.  Pirate history!






1.  Hot, hot, hot!




The new city of Cartagena

Friday, June 22, 2012

I'm interviewed!

Today I'm being interviewed, and it was such fun!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Reason #7, #6, & #5

Counting down the Top Ten Reasons Why I Love the Caribbean (especially in winter):

7. Tropical animals and plants:



Iguana feeding frenzy in Honduras.



Mama sloth and baby in Costa Rica



Higuero tree in the Dominican Republic (for making maracas, not eating!)


6. Sunsets & libations:




No green flash.



Sailing past Cuba.



A mimosa greets us upon boarding.


5. Shopping!!! (not that I bought much)


Carved mahogany tables in Honduras.



Sundresses in Panama.


The shopping mall in Cartagena.






Monday, March 19, 2012

Top Ten Reasons Why I Love the Caribbean (especially in winter!)

Counting down:

#10. It's happy!

Dancers in Roatan, Honduras dance all day on the pier.



Calypso music in Costa Rica.



Panamanian dancers and musicians entertain us on the ship.



#9. There are stunning shades of blue:

Cozumel, Mexico.



A day at sea.



Grand Cayman shines.




#8. Random bursts of color:


Dolls in the Dominican Republic.




Fruit vendors in Cartagena, Colombia.




Panama.



Sunday, March 11, 2012

Dominican Republic--Part 3



Santo Domingo is a large, sprawling city of 3 million, complete with urban issues. Like traffic. And pedestrians walking on elevated highways!




The Tainos lived on the island before the Spaniards' arrival, and some of their artifacts are preserved in the Museum of Dominican Man.




Christopher's brother, Bartholomew Columbus, built Santo Domingo in 1496 as the first European city in the New World.





Pigeons flock in front of the oldest cathedral in the Americas.





The Colonial Zone is quaint and colorful.





It's still a center for artists.




A lazy day along the seawall of the Malecon.




Obelisk to the butterfly sisters on the Malecon.




Next up: 10 reasons why I love the Caribbean!


Friday, March 2, 2012

Dominican Republic--Part 2


Casa de Campo is two hours east of Santo Domingo on the south coast overlooking the Caribbean shore. We rented a villa that came with a maid/cook and butler, and we felt like royals!




We showered under the palm tree that grew out of our bathroom.




You can jump into the pool from the bedroom and swim under waterfalls.




The neighbors here drive fancy yachts!





A replica of a 16th century Mediterranean village sits on a cliff overlooking the Chavon river and Pete Dye golf courses.




Of course the village has its own Greek amphitheater.




The Dominicans think it's too cold in winter to go to the beach, but we thought mid 80's at Playa Minitas was perfect!




We also enjoyed our "beach bed" at Juan Dolio, which is halfway between Casa de Campo and Santo Domingo.



Next up, Santo Domingo!