Thursday’s Thoughts on Writing – Crime Baked

New England Crime Bake

This past weekend I attended the 2018 New England Crime Bake, which was my first writing conference. For a while I’d been reading about how important it is to network with other writers for both support and to establish a writing community, so I decided to give it a try.

I met so many AMAZING people there that it was worth going for that experience alone!

scoreI also met the authors of these three fantastic books and got them signed, which was a major score because they are all wonderful, yet very different, stories, and I cherish the opportunity to let a writer know how much I enjoyed reading their book. The authors are absolutely awesome, too! How awesome? Let me count the ways. . .

Walter Mosley was the guest of honor of this year’s conference. The author of more than 40 book and a multiple award winner, he’s probably best known for his Easy Rawlins mysteries, yet he contributes to many genres and writes for TV and film as well (ever heard of the series Snowfall?).

Mosley is hilarious, but he’s also a very insightful, eloquent speaker who doesn’t mince words when sharing his experiences in the publishing industry. If you get a chance to hear him speak, don’t miss it – you won’t regret it!

As both an agent and a writer, Munier considers herself a “storyteller and storyseller”. She is a huge animal lover, which is all I need to know to turn into a super fan! She is also incredibly nice and friendly, a very genuine person.

Her latest release, “A Borrowing of Bones”, was inspired by the “hero working dogs she met through MissionK9Rescue”. I really enjoyed the mystery and recommend you give it a try!

 

Image result for hank phillippi ryanHank Phillippi Ryan is a firecracker! So much energy and enthusiasm and with personality for days, Ryan knows how to keep an entire room enthralled! I took a master class with her at the conference, and she was definitely one of the major highlights of the weekend!

She may be best known for her day job as an investigative reporter who has won over 34 EMMYs and dozens of other awards, but she hasn’t done too shabby in the writing department. “Ryan’s also an award-winner in her second profession—with five Agathas, three Anthonys, two Macavitys, the Daphne, and for The Other Woman, the coveted Mary Higgins Clark Award.” Her schedule is PACKED full of events for her latest release, “Trust Me”. This is an author that you have got to see for yourself! #TrustMe

Was it perfect? No. #CrimeBake wasn’t everything I had imagined or hoped for. I don’t feel like I learned very much, but as an event for both readers and writers, it wasn’t as instructive as conferences that focus exclusively on writing and craft development. (I learned that at the conference!)

I did, however, have a truly memorable and enjoyable time. Talking with other writers, hearing about their experiences, the other conferences and events that they had attended, was truly priceless.

Was it worth it? Yes!

Would I do it again? Absolutely!

The bottom line is that I was there to meet other writers, and that’s exactly what I did. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and most authors don’t get an agent or a publishing contract overnight. (While #CrimeBake does have a pitch option, I did not partake. This time.) To me, the important thing is that I took some time for myself and spent it immersed in my passion. What more can I ask for?!?!

 

Little Monsters by Kara Thomas ~ #YA #Mystery #BookReview

40670509It’s been a while since I’ve read a YA book, and after my love affair with the Pretty Little Liars series, I was read for a ‘little’ something, and monsters turned out to be that thing.

This book deals with the usual teenage angst of family issues, feeling like you don’t belong, not fitting in, and feeling like you have to compromise yourself to satisfy the demands of peer pressure, among other issues, yet it takes it one step further with a murder, which creates a mystery.

The plots seems plausible enough. The writing is good, the characters well-developed, and the suspense keeps the pages turning. There was enough angst to satisfy my YA craving. It was good, but not quite everything I was hoping for. (I think my standards for this one may have been impossibly high.) 4 stars.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reed ~ #Mystery #BookReview

40605223It seems like I heard a lot of hype about this book, and how good it was supposed to be. Despite the mixed reviews, I gave it a shot.

I liked, (not loved), the beginning. There was something slightly juvenile feeling about it, but the character from whose point of view the story was told was slightly juvenile, so I figured the author was just following his character’s lead.

While there was an underlying feeling of creepiness, I felt more impatient than held in suspense. Three quarters of the way through the book, the impatience was for the book to be over, and when it finally was, I wanted to throw something. I HATED the ending. It seemed like a cop-out to me, even though I would guess that it was the destination where the author had intended to go the whole time. I felt let down. I felt betrayed. I felt like I had wasted my time. That said, the author can write/the book is readable. You might like it better than I did. You might even love it. But I didn’t. 3 stars.

In the Barren Ground by Loreth Anne White ~ #Mystery #BookReview

29243822This is the third book that I’ve read by this author, and I have to say that if you’re looking for suspense, she delivers! I didn’t like this one as much as the other two – I liked the characters and plot from the others better – but this kept my attention AND kept me guessing until the end.

The setting – the far, northern wilds of Canada – is almost a character in itself. It certainly makes for a creepy atmosphere.

This book was fast paced, well plotted, and sinister. Quite honestly, it almost bordered on horror. If you’re looking for a book to keep you up at night, this just might be it! 4 stars!

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn ~ #Mystery #BookReview

40389527I roll my eyes every time a book is hailed as, “The next Gone Girl.” Let’s be clear  – whether you loved it, hated it, or didn’t read it, there’s only one Gone Girl. Novels are creations; each should be considered on it’s own merits. Have you ever heard someone say a painting is going to be the next Mona Lisa?

Rant completed, I will say that while this book wasn’t the next Gone Girl, as advertised, it was good. Really good. I enjoyed it immensely, and was taken by surprise several times.

The story was easy to read. The plot was simple, yet at the same time, elaborate. The character was well developed, and her internal dialogue and memories do a good job of endearing her to readers, whether they like her or not. I felt myself rooting for her. And how can a mystery lover not love the Hitchcock references? This one was time well spent. 5 stars!

The Last Girl by Nick Twist ~ #Mystery #BookReview

38925046This book started off with a bang. It was creepy, suspenseful, and mysterious. What it lacked in certain areas was made up for in others . . . until it wasn’t.

What started off as a promising read slowly spiraled into something else. Something I didn’t want to read. I kept going, hoping that the author would recapture what he initially had going. Eventually, it became clear that wasn’t going to happen; would it be rude to say that the author deviated from a good course to indulge himself?

I gave this book 3.5 stars, rounded to 4 where applicable, because the author has talent and had something good for a minute there. It was action packed and hard to put down at first. By the end, everything about it annoyed me, even things that I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about if the author had delivered. Scratch the previous rating. Writing this review has made me realize how utterly offended I became over the pages of this book. 3 stars.

Dying Truth by Angela Marsons ~ #Mystery #BookReview

39501802This is the 8th book I’ve read in the D.I. Kim Stone series, and like the seven before it, it was a suspenseful, roller coaster of a mystery. Angela Marsons is an expert at keeping her readers on their toes!

In this one, the author continues to explore the group dynamic among the detectives while delving into the dark side of elite school groups and hazing. I hate giving spoilers, but I will say that this book changes the group forever.

My biggest concern is that Marsons book deal was for 8 books – please let there be more! This is the only series I’ve encountered over the last few years that has me completely hooked; there are a few others I keep up with, but more out of curiosity than need. This series is an addiction as much as a guilty pleasure. 5 stars!

Vanishing Girls by Lisa Regan ~ #Mystery #BookReview

36441275This was a fast paced, adrenaline pumping mystery with high stakes. There was a little awkwardness, a sentence here and there that felt like the author was struggling to find her footing, but all in all it was well written, with a well developed protagonist and pacing that left me gasping for breath.

The intricate plot was slyly crafted and the author didn’t shy away from shocking the reader. I can’t say more without giving spoilers, which I detest, so I’ll just say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and wouldn’t mind spending more time with Detective Josie Quinn by reading more books in the series. 5 Stars!

 

Force of Nature by Jane Harper ~ #Mystery #BookReview

35688002This book is by the same author as The Dry, a book that’s been on my to-read list since before it was released. Sadly, I still haven’t read it. This is the second book in the series (I didn’t know it was a series, either.)

5 women go into the woods, only four come out. I had to read it. I love good hiking horror/mysteries, and have written a half dozen stories in the same vein myself, because as most hikers know, there’s so much that can go wrong, and the woods can be such a wild, unpredictable, and yes, sinister, setting.

I liked the characters. The writing took a few pages to adapt to the almost imperceptible little details of an Australian writer, but after that, I rarely noticed the quirks. The pacing was good, the suspense strong, and the ending unforeseen. Not my favorite book of the year, but still good. 4 stars!

Trespassing by Brandi Reeds ~ #Mystery #BookReview

38261058I could not put this book down! There were so many different directions that the author could take with the plot, and I couldn’t rest until I knew where she was taking me (the reader) on this wild journey.

I’m not going to claim that it was completely believable, and I actually really disliked the ending (I was hoping for something a little crazier), but I really liked this book and would definitely read more by this author. If you like unreliable narrators, you should give this one a try. And, (I hate any kind of spoiler, but I have to share this), the little girl has a naughty imaginary friend who lives in her hair. Gold!!! 5 stars from the critic that lives in my . . . ear? Nose? Shoe? (epic fail on my part)