The Write Kind of Music

So with the first book I didn’t particularly have deadlines—other than those I imposed on myself. And for most of us, it’s all too easy to ignore self-imposed deadlines or extend them indefinitely. Having worked as a newspaper reporter for many years, I work best under the thumb of a real, no-fudge-factor deadline.

shutterstockDeadline920Now than I’m signed with a publisher, there are real deadlines for my books—dates on which I am contractually obligated to turn in the synopsis and the manuscript for each book and dates by which edits must be completed.

This is good for me. But it’s not always easy. I try not to procrastinate. But no matter how early I get started or push to reach daily word counts, it’s a race to the finish line. That adrenaline rush pushes me forward—that, and copious amounts of caffeine. And I need inspirational tunes.

Not songs to play while actually writing, but songs to inspire me to write. I rarely listen to music while writing. If so, it’s instrumental or sung in a language I don’t speak. Icelandic band Sigur Ros fits the bill.

The following partial playlist is my Rocky Balboa running up the steps music. Music to pump me up, energize me, motivate me, keep me running—or at least limping—to the finish line.

Top Five Inspiration to Write Tunes:

Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield

Everyday I Write the Book by Elvis Costello

The Book of My Life by Sting

Let the Day Begin by The Call

Paperback Writer by The Beatles

Cozy and Unashamed

My name is Vickie and I write (and read) cozy mysteries.

Not a shocking admission really, but enough to garner me a disparaging look or comment on occasion from some writers and readers of other genres.

Agatha_ChristieIn fact when I attended the Writers Police Academy in August, I sat next to a pleasant-looking lady at one of the sessions who asked me, “What kind of books do you write?” When I answered “cozy mysteries,” she replied, “Oh, I never read those!”

I know reading tastes are subjective, but she’s missing out on so many amazingly good books! Or at least it seems that way to me, as a die-hard cozy fan.

I first discovered Agatha Christie when I was about twelve. I imagined Miss Marple as my elderly aunt, whom I’d spent a few weeks visiting each summer in England. Her village life with its thatched roofs, roaring fire on the hearth and afternoon tea served in delicate china cups was a world away from my reality of asphalt shingles, rattling air-conditioning and a sweaty glass of iced tea.

For an awkward adolescent with her nose pressed firmly in a library book, sitting in Aunt Jane’s parlor and tagging along as she unraveled murder mysteries felt like the safest, most comforting place on earth—despite the fact that bodies were piling up in St. Mary Mead.

How does that make sense?

I believe it’s because before you read Page 1 of a traditional mystery—which vary greatly in their degrees of coziness— you have the assurance that the murderer will be caught and justice will prevail. That’s something we don’t always get in other categories of crime fiction—and seldom happens on the evening news.

I sometimes enjoy a good horror read, curled up on the sofa as the shadows on the wall grow darker and more ominous. Or having a thriller leave me breathless as our hero races across the globe, his life in peril as he tries to prevent an assassination or foil a terrorist plot.

But, I always come back home to the cozy, traditional murder mystery. It’s comfort food for the mind and spirit. It’s hot cocoa or mac ‘n’ cheese or chocolate cake. And cozies come in all flavors, from spicy and exotic to warm and familiar—romantic or humorous or paranormal, or maybe even all three at once.

My only complaint now that I’m writing cozy mystery novels is that I have far less time to read them.

Playing Cops and Writers

MascotI admit to having a certain amount of Nancy Drew envy growing up, what with all her exciting adventures in crime solving. But this past weekend, Nancy Drew would have been jealous of me!

I attended the Writers Police Academy in Appleton, Wisconsin. Law enforcement officers from different agencies, firefighters and emergency medical personnel train at the new, state-of-the-art Fox Valley Technical College Public Safety Training Center.

Last Friday, about 300 (mostly) mystery writers descended en masse on the facility. We came armed with notebooks, pens and lots of questions. We attended sessions taught by police academy instructors and special guest lecturers, including a medical expert in bioterrorism, a police sketch artist and a forensic psychologist who has profiled serial killers.

Of course, the hands-on classes were some of the most fun. I learned how to retrieve and develop fingerprints from various surfaces. (Fingerprints can be retrieved from cars that have been submerged in water. I never knew that!) I did a building search with a TeamWork (1)partner and I handcuffed a perp. (Actually, she seemed like a very nice lady, but I enjoyed slapping those cuffs on her all the same.)

So, take that, Nancy Drew! Although, I still envy her car a little. That blue roadster was pretty sweet.