“STICK-TO-IT-IVENESS”

This has been something I’ve done all my life. When I start something, I have to finish, whether it’s a chore, a volunteer job, writing a book, or anything that comes up in life.

Yes, I’m old, so there has been a lot to finish along the way. Right now I have 20 books in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series in print and available for Kindle, 16 books in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series in print and on Kindle, 8 stand-alones, 2 short stories and one cookbook (which is always my best seller).

I’m working on a new as yet-unnamed Rocky Bluff P.D. and have had a lot of other things I’ve had to do, so it’s slow going.

However, my biggest accomplishment, one that isn’t finished yet, is the fact that my husband and I reached 70 years of marriage on October 24th. Believe me, it hasn’t been easy. We didn’t really know each other well, were just kids (18-21), came from two different coasts and very different families and cultures. Because hubby was a career Seabee, he was gone a lot during the time we had young children (five in all), not ideal. When he retired, life became better for all of us. Both of us worked various jobs. I went to college to get my AA Degree in Child Development.

When the kids were all grown and all on their own, but one, we moved from our near the beach home to the foothills of the Sierra and became the owners and operators of a residential care facility for six women with developmental disabilities. This was a great time for both of us, though lots of work, we loved it.

And yes, I wrote, published and promoted during this time. I also wrote articles for the local newspaper for several years. I did many other jobs related to the residential care business, teaching classes, publishing a newsletter for other providers, and putting together an organization for providers.

We also enjoyed many mystery conferences all over the country, saw interesting sites, made many wonderful writer and reader friends. We did other fun things, gave lots of parties, went on cruises, and traveled to meet with writing groups.

All that is behind us now, but they were good years.

We have a big family we love and enjoy and those who are close by give us much pleasure, and  needed support in what is called our “golden years.”

And yes, if I start a project or job of any kind, you can be sure I’ll stick to it until I’m finished.

Marilyn

I think your character is getting old and senile.

That is what my oldest daughter, one of my beta readers, said to me while reading my latest draft of the next Gabriel Hawke book. I laughed and asked why. She mentioned two things that were not my character’s fault. They were mine. So it is the writer and creator of Gabriel Hawke who is getting senile! LOL

Actually, this last manuscript, I found myself having to reread the last two or three chapters every time I sat down to write because I would have days in between being able to write. I lost the flow of the story and the events. Even though I also write about three or four chapters and then go back and on a notepad write down all the significant events that have to do with the murder or investigation they are doing.

I also have a calendar white board that I put small sticky notes on each day with the significant information that is discovered that day. It helps me keep track of the length of time the book plays out over and what forensics information could be coming in.

With all of these “cover my backside” in place, I still repeated things and had my character saying things that he’d already said. Yikes!

Now I know why I didn’t pursue my writing career until my kids were older. Right now we have our oldest granddaughter living with us. We have been attending her volleyball games and I’ve been taking days to go trail riding with other grandkids. I’m spending time with family and my writing is suffering. But I would rather have that than my family suffering.

While the Hawke book is off with my beta readers, I started fleshing out the next Spotted Pony Casino Mystery book. I did something I have never done. I made a 5 page outline of sorts. I wrote five or less sentences for each chapter pushing the plot of the story along. I didn’t add in any emotional or sub plots, but I’m hoping those will come naturally as I write and the outline will keep my story flowing without repeating and backtracking. Because until this granddaughter graduates in May, I will be busy with her and her school functions as well as having fun with the grandkids down the road.

If you are a writer, do you plot or do an outline before you start a book? Have you ever discovered at the end that you had repeated information?

Readers, have you ever read a book that repeated information or made the main character seem lost?

WHY I KEEP WRITING

The simple answer is I can’t stop writing—and believe me there are times I’d like to stop and put my efforts into something else.

When I finished writing End of the Trail, I thought it was the last of the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series. After all, my heroine had decided to retire, time for me to do the same, right?

However, when I visited my daughter in Murrieta and she made a remark about her husband taking care of his trash harem, my curiosity got the best of me. When she explained, I had an idea for another Tempe mystery, The Trash Harem.

I’m not a best-selling author but I get great pleasure writing about the characters who live in my imagination and helping them solve the mysteries they are involved in.

I also enjoy talking about my books and writing with those who are interested. Plus, there’s great satisfaction when a reader tells me how much they enjoyed one of my books.

My latest Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, Not As We Knew It, has received good reviews despite the fact that I included the virus that has invaded our world. I was warned not to do it, but couldn’t see how I could avoid it.

I’m now writing an as yet unnamed Rocky Bluff P.D. that does have the same kind of problems connected to the virus that we’re all facing—though it’s all in the background of the main mystery.

Life here in the foothills has become complicated. The big fire in the mountains that is burning some and threatening more giant Sequoias is causing our whole are to be full of smoke. We haven’t seen the sun in days.

The fire has driven the wild animals down into our community, and we and others have bear visits every night. We keep our trash in a big trailer to take to the dump once a week—and that’s a big attraction for our bear visitor. Bears have been seen all around, though usually they make their appearance at night.

We do all the things we usually do, hoping and praying the firefighters will eventually get this big fire under control. Life has been altered in so many ways, but no matter what, I am still compelled to sit in front of my computer and write.

Marilyn

Official Blurb for The Trash Harem:

Deputy Tempe Crabtree has retired from her job in Bear Creek when friends, who once lived in Bear Creek and attended Pastor Hutch’s church, ask her to visit them in Temecula. The husband, Jonathan, is a suspect in what might be a murder case. The retirement community includes many interesting characters, any of whom might have had a better motive than Jonathan. There is also a connection to Earle Stanley Gardner as well as the Pechanga Old Oak. What is a trash harem? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

To purchase The Trash Harem

The Illusive Word

Early on in my writing, I would have times when I’d be writing along and…nothing. I knew what I wanted to say but I couldn’t find the word I wanted. That was before I was writing on a computer. I would pull out my dictionary and look up a word similar to what I wanted. And hopefully by process of elimination, the right word would reveal itself.

After attending my first RWA (Romance Writers of America) conference, I learned that every writer needs a dictionary( which I had), a thesaurus, The Chicago Manual of Style, and the book Goals, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon. I went home and found those books at my local bookstore and they have been on my shelf. I even purchased a newer version of The Chicago Manual of Style this year.

my shelf of reference books

As you can tell by the ratty cover on the thesaurus, I have used it a lot. Even when I look up a word through Word Docs, I will end up going to the book. I sort through word after word, until I come up with the one that makes the sentence show what I want.

My falling apart thesaurus

There are days it feels like I stop my momentum more than I write. On those days my brain doesn’t spit out the words I want and I hunt and hunt. Then there are days I don’t touch any of the books as my fingers fly over the keys moving my story along with the precise words I need to convey the scene.

I know I will be going back and editing the story and could just put in what I want to say in parenthesis and move on. But my brain won’t let me. I have to have the exact word or I can’t move on with the story. Although there have been a couple of times when the right word couldn’t be conjured up with all my reference books. Then I do put down what I want to say in parenthesis and come back to it when I do the edits, hoping the brain is more engaged that day.

I think the need to have the “perfect” word is a curse to writers. I’m sure I’m not the only one who can use up writing time hunting down the illusive word that is on the tip of my fingers but can’t quite manifest in my mind.

For me, this is a second behind editing as the hardest and most dreaded part of writing for me. How about other writers? Do you also struggle at times to find the right word? Readers, have you ever read something and thought, “this word would have been a better choice?”

Guest Blogger ~ Ben Wiener

“A well-designed thriller that I didnt want to put down! “ — Nicolas Colin, author of Hedge

This is a real book! You wrote this?” – My daughter

Here’s a very short mystery for you: How does a male venture capitalist find himself penning a guest post for a blog named “Ladies of Mystery?”

Murder at First Principles, my debut novel, is a Silicon Valley murder mystery told from the first-person point of view of a young woman, Addie Morita. Addie is a frustrated junior staffer at the Northern California Computer Crime Task Force, questioning her decision to enter public service rather than the lavish startup industry that has swept up her friends and former classmates from a prestigious local college, when her life takes a sudden turn. One by one, former classmates show up in body bags, and soon Addie receives anonymous, taunting messages with hints about the crimes. Addie must match wits with both the mysterious killer, potential suspects and a stubborn, famed Special Agent, Hope Pearson, as she pursues her “big break” and tries to break the case.

Female readers have been the biggest fans of Murder at First Principles so far. While my stated purpose in writing the novel was to enlighten and entertain, with startup business strategies woven into the plot, the story is engaging and electrifying for any mystery lover.

I decided to make the two main characters female to break the stereotypical “detective drama” format and make the two characters’ contrasts and tensions poignant and dramatic. Like most people in the real world, Addie, Hope and the rest of the diverse cast of characters have things to hide, cloudy motivations and challenges to overcome.

Ironically, as a male writer, writing from the POV of a woman drove me to greater clarity. I have found in other contexts, as I write male characters, that I am prone to take certain traits, motivations or thought processes for granted. Writing Addie’s story forced me to get to know her first. The process of figuring her out, as opposed to starting to write assuming I was, or knew, the main character myself, made the writing a joyful and enriching experience, and produced a superior product.

Murder at First Principles is not just about women, it benefits women. Proceeds from my books support FemForward, a nonprofit with which I’m affiliated that promotes young women in tech.

Seth Godin says “Art is generosity.” Murder at First Principles is my mischievous, rollicking, topsy-turvy gift to mystery lovers. It will keep you turning pages and guessing, up to the very end.

Murder at First Principles

Addie Morita, a frustrated young crime researcher, finally gets her big career break when a serial killer targets her successful former classmates from an elite San Francisco Bay Area college. Addie must match wits with both the taunting killer and the intimidating Special Agent assigned to the case, racing to decipher key clues buried in a famous startup strategy book — before it’s too late.

Murder at First Principles is the debut Startup Fiction novel by successful venture capitalist Ben Wiener. Written as a murder mystery, the plot is designed to enlighten and entertain, introducing readers to Hamilton Helmer’s iconic work, 7 Powers, and its seven market-proven strategies for sustained competitive advantage. Every suspect in this story is hiding something — strap yourself in and try to uncover their secrets while discovering the secret “powers” innovative businesses harness to create persistent differential returns.

PURCHASE LINKS

https://amzn.to/3wWbJ6Q

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/murder-at-first-principles-ben-wiener/1139629514

https://www.kobo.com/ww/en/ebook/murder-at-first-principles

https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1570694765

https://www.scribd.com/audiobook/511143258/Murder-at-First-Principles

Ben Wiener is a venture capitalist and author. He founded and manages Jumpspeed Ventures, an early-stage venture capital fund, and he has authored two full-length novels, Murder at First Principles and the forthcoming Fever Pitch. His motivation for writing is to “enlighten and entertain.” In addition to his novels he has published a number of short stories and humor essays.

Ben grew up in Allentown, PA and graduated (with honors) from Columbia Law School. He clerked on Israel’s Supreme Court and practiced corporate law in New York City and Tel Aviv. He moved permanently to Israel with his young family and co-founded his first software startup in 1999. Ben worked for a variety of startups and larger companies before founding Jumpspeed Ventures in 2014.

SOCIAL LINKS

www.benwiener.net

https://www.linkedin.com/in/benwiener/

Twitter: @beninJLM