Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Kill Some Time in the Center Lane

Hello Readers!

What if a prison inmate felt wrongly accused? When his patience has tanked and he's out of options, what length would he go to make things right?

And he only has 48 minutes.

From those questions Hammond Stone was born, and drove my idea for Center Lane, one of the eleven stories in the Tick Tock, A Stitch in Crime anthology.

Many times, this is how my stories emerge. Questions become like threads. If a question lingers long enough, I feel the need to unravel it, knowing a plot or character is knitted in there somewhere. I find that ideas come from all around us. Sometimes, it's listening to the news and asking the what if questions. Or imagining different scenarios. Recently, it was a conversation in a dream. A woman whispered to another person that she had run away from something horrible. I didn't remember the details, but I did remember the pure desperation in her voice. And that thread sparked the latest novel I'm working on.

In Hammond Stone's case, the moment he told me he felt trapped and needed to right the wrong that was done to him, I was in his corner and wanted to tell his story.

Here's the opening to Center Lane:

Hammond Stone swiped his forearm across the grimy mirror. He dabbed his index finger to the tip of his tongue and smoothed back a sprig of loose hair. Clutching the sink edge with both hands, he hung his head. 
8:02 am. 
      Carla would just be getting into her Mercedes. He straightened his shoulders and patted the ID number embroidered on his left breast pocket. Today he was finally going to a better hell. Whether she knew it or not, Carla was going to help him get there.
* * *

Thank you for stopping by! Ready for more? Please check out Tick Tock, A Stich in Crime now available for Pre-order and releasing May 1. We look forward to seeing you on our Tick Tock's Facebook Page -- jump in and say hi! 

Christine Clemetson


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Meet the Bartender

Hi! Rebecca M. Douglass here, author of “The Tide Waits” in the Tick Tock anthology, here to  share a bit about how and why I wrote my story.

In some ways, the answer is easy: I write cozy mysteries, among other things, so the IWSG anthology this year was a natural fit. I was sure I could do something good with the mystery prompt. Then I saw the part about the theme being clocks or time, and I wasn’t so sure. After all, clocks in murder mysteries were done to death so long ago they never even appear anymore, right? (I’d say from the stories in the anthology that there were still plenty of interesting mysteries to write about time!).
So the theme worried me a bit, and I knew I wanted to take a little different approach—to the mystery
or to the clock, or (as it turned out), to both. Since my PTA murder mysteries are set on Pismawallops Island, a pile of glacial leavings in the middle of Puget Sound, and because I grew up on a similar pile, my first thoughts ran to ferries and ferry schedules. That just wouldn’t gel in my mind, until I thought of the tides—the most important time-keeper for sea folk. That was when I remembered Lira.

Lira made her first appearance in a bit of flash fiction several years ago, tending bar in a village in an unspecified but not modern time and place. I liked that she is a woman in an unconventional job, and that she's competent and in control. I knew from that first story that Lira is the go-to problem solver for her village, making it natural that an old fisherman would turn to her when he finds a dead man.

Lira’s story was fun to write, as well as exasperating. The tide, which I have always taken for granted and would have said I understood well, proved more complex than expected, not to mention unwilling to cooperate with my narrative needs. It took a lot of edits to get it right (I hope), and many thanks to Jemima Pett, who helped me find the errors.

Take a quick look at Lira in action:

“Shut it, you sotted fool!”
“It’s th’ lord’s truth.” 
The thump of a blow cut off the too-loud declaration, and Lira looked up from the glass she had just filled. In the back corner of the bar, two shepherds lambasted one another drunkenly. Sighing, she handed the glass across to the blacksmith, and picked up the stout club she kept to maintain the peace. Crossing the room in three strides, Lira grabbed the loudmouth by the collar, and barred the second man from further attack with her weapon.
Lira dragged the dazed shepherd to the door, pushed him out into the night, and turned to confront his drinking buddy and sparring partner. “You, too. Out.”
The second shepherd cast a forlorn look at the table where half a glass of ale still stood. “Aw, I was just—” He took another look at the bartender’s face, shut up, and went out into the night.

You’ll have to get your copy of Tick Tock, A Stitch In Crime to find out how Lira handles her other job! You can pre-order and copies will be available May 1. Add it to your TBR list on Goodreads! Join us on Facebook

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The First Wednesday's Here!

Thanks Alex J. Cavanaugh

Optional Question: What do you love about the genre you in most often?

The awesome co-hosts for the February 7 posting of the IWSG are Stephen Tremp, Pat Garcia,Angela Wooldridge, Victoria Marie Lees, and Madeline Mora-Summonte!
Please stop by and say to them.
And come by TickTock's Facebook Page. We'd love to see you there.
The question today is perfect for this post on the new Tick Tock blog. I usually write contemporary/realistic fiction or when I'm writing for younger readers, I love fantasy/adventure. I'm comfortable in each of those categories. 

Writing about modern day youth--their problems, their triumphs--takes me both backward and forward in time. What I've discovered is that a lot has changed in the teen world since I dwelled there, but the underlying universal issues are the same: Love. Loss. Insecurity (this seems to lurk everywhere). One mistake after another. Emotional highs and lows at every turn. Buckets of angst. And sometimes death before a teen is prepared to cope with it. There are no end of themes, so I love writing these stories, and I aim them at the young adult/crossover level, so a lot of my readers said goodbye to their teens a while ago.

When I need a break from reality, I love to write for middle grade readers who want to jump into fantasy and adventure. It's fun for me to imagine impossible events that a twelve-year-old might be a part of: time travel, ghostly encounters, or a journey though the backside of a computer game. 

Well, now that I've told you about my usual writing, let me introduce you to my short story in Tick Tock, A Stitch in Crime. It's called Heartless, and it's obviously not either a young adult or a middle grade piece of fiction. I found that I enjoyed creating a story with detectives, crimes, and murders for a bit. 

I set Heartless in Chicago in 1871 because that's when The Great Fire destroyed 300 lives,18,000 buildings and left 100,000 residents homeless. I also wanted to explore the Victorian period with its strict social codes. I loved how macabre it was to have someone murdering young girls in a time when an unmarried couple couldn’t travel in a closed carriage together and the word “leg” was not permissible in polite conversation--"limb" seems to have passed the moral litmus test though. 

The challenge I had in writing Heartless, was keeping the tone of the period without making it too stiff for a modern reader. Remember, I'm deep into the teen and middle years language. I had none of that to rely on. I guess reviewers will tell me if I succeeded. 

Here's how Heartless begins:  

October 6,1871 

Journal Entry

A swath of pale pink paint across her cheekbones and her face glowed with vitality. Her eyes glistened in the light of my workroom. Even now, as I write this, I roll my head to ease the strain across my shoulders. Months of intense labor and still the final touches remain undone.

I can’t believe I began a new project tonight as well. I didn’t plan to, but I couldn’t resist. She was unexpectedly accessible and a perfect match for my needs. So, in spite of being exhausted, I had to clean the knife before returning it to the tool chest, then wash every surface until all of the dark fluids drained into the hole at the center of the sloped floor. I hadn’t needed the metal pot tonight, so at least I didn’t have that to manage. 

My last chore was to check the ice storage to be sure all was in order there. I’m smiling just recalling that moment.

Tonight, I spent hours longer than I planned, and I’d have been late to the dinner if I hadn’t pulled myself away immediately. So very hard to do. When I’m not quite finished, I hate to leave.

With great reluctance, I drew a soft blanket around her shoulders. Before dousing the light and pulling the door behind me, I glanced back. I’m eager to dress her in the gown, and I must restore her hair straight away. It looks so alluring curled around the nape of her neck. 

I’ve named her Alexandra.


The End...No, just kidding. I hope you'll get your copy of Tick Tock, A Stitch In Crime. You can pre-order and copies will be available May 1. Add it to your TBR list on Goodreads! Join us on Facebook

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Introducing Tick Tock: A Stitch In Crime

The clock is ticking...

Can a dead child’s cross-stitch pendant find a missing nun? Is revenge possible in just 48 minutes? Can a killer be stopped before the rescuers are engulfed by a city ablaze? Who killed what the tide brought in? Can a soliloquizing gumshoe stay out of jail?

Exploring the facets of time, eleven authors delve into mysteries and crimes that linger in both dark corners and plain sight. Featuring the talents of Gwen Gardner, Rebecca M. Douglass, Tara Tyler, S. R. Betler, C.D. Gallant-King, Jemi Fraser, J. R. Ferguson, Yolanda Renée, C. Lee McKenzie, Christine Clemetson, and Mary Aalgaard.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these eleven tales will take you on a thrilling ride into jeopardy and secrecy. Trail along, find the clues, and stay out of danger. Time is wasting...

Release date - May 1, 2018
A Stitch in Crime – Gwen Gardner
Until Release  - Jemi Fraser
The Tide Waits – Rebecca M. Douglass
Center Lane - Christine Clemetson
One More Minute – Mary Aalgaard
Reset – Tara Tyler
Three O’Clock Execution - S.R. Betler
The Little Girl in the Bayou - J.R. Ferguson
Cypress, Like the Tree - Yolanda Renée
Gussy Saint and the Case of the Missing Coed - C.D. Gallant-King
Heartless – C. Lee McKenzie


Mystery & Detective/Crime/Thrillers
Print ISBN 9781939844545 eBook ISBN 9781939844552

Review Copies Are Now Available
Let me or L. Diane Wolfe at Dancing Lemur Press know if you're interest. We'd so appreciate it.

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