Sunday, December 28, 2008

The after-Christma blues

There's nothing worse than the day after Christmas when you realize you've finally finished shopping, all the presents have been opened (for better or for worse)and the holiday is over. You've raced around for weeks (or months) trying to find just the right present for each person, you've wrapped and baked and partied. Now it's over.

Oh, I know there's a warm and fuzzy afterglow kind of thing but that gets cold pretty fast. Maybe it's the goal of getting ready for Christmas (I'm goal oriented)then suddenly there you are and it's over for another year.

It can't be Christmas every day which for most people is a good thing since we'd all die of early heart attacks from the stress. But I've resolved next year to keep Christmas is my heart a littl more. Not the stress but the excitement, the joy. It may sound corny but it's too easy to get wrapped up in the bad stuff we see and hear each day. A little Christmas will be a good thing, I think.

Joyce Lavene

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Can you believe it’s almost Christmas Day? Neither can I, but here I am sit at the computer on Christmas Eve writing a blog. That’s okay though. We celebrate on Christmas night.

Yes, this year we will gather at my daughter’s house for a meal and to open gifts. Usually everyone gathers at my house, but circumstances tell us it had to be different this year.
Because of financial reason I find I have to move. I have my condo full of boxes and I’m only using my fiber-optic tree. Christmas has long been my favorite holiday and I usually decorate out the yang, but I couldn’t see dragging everything out and having to box it all up again,

We decided since we had to change the location, we’ll change the menu too. Because we’ve had a lot of the traditional ham, turkey with all the trimmings we’re going to grill steaks. This works well because I don’t have a grill and my son-in-law does.

Of course some things don’t change. I’ve been threatened within an inch of my life if I don’t make my usual cream cake. The cake is out of the oven and I’ll whip the cream for icing just as soon as the cake is cool.
So this year is going to be a different Christmas for us, but it will still be a happy one. No matter what we do, when we get together, we have fun.

I wish you and your family happiness and fun this year. And may 2009 bring us all more book sales and chances to get together to promote those sales.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Cozy Little Murder for Christmas

I know I'm not alone in enjoying Christmas mysteries.  After all, what goes better with Christmas than murder?

There are lots of Christmas murder mysteries in print--I referenced a website on my last post that gave a list of available titles.  Why is this, though? 

I think that mysteries are wonderful stress relief.  You have a crisis in the book that affects the entire fictional community.  At the end, we  heave a huge sigh of relief as the killer is taken away in cuffs and order is restored once again to the town/idyll.

Christmas, for all its joys, is....stressful.  You're trying to wrap presents, shop, cook, corral children into some semblance of order, and visit with family.  Plus there's this idealistic view of Christmas everywhere (commercials especially--doesn't everyone look extraordinarily happy, attractive, and organized?) to try to live up to. 

A little murder fits in nicely.

I'd love to try my hand at a Christmas mystery and have lots of  ideas floating around my head.   I wonder if writing one would provide as much escape as reading one?

I think it's worth a try. 

BEST BLOG POSTS:   I'd like to have a better list of cool blog posts this week, but I really haven't been at my computer as much (Christmas crunch, you know.)  Instead I've been baking cookies (don't panic, people who know me---it was from pre-packaged cookie dough so the cookies were actually edible), volunteering at the schools, and fighting the crowds in Target.  But I still found:

Jezebel's list of 75 books every woman should read.  And Esquire's list of 75 books every man should read.  Thanks to Moonrat for discovering them.

Some interesting posts on the Make Mine Mystery blog on creating suspense in your book. 

The Renegade Writer blog addresses perfectionism for those of us to are inclined to go there. 

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Merry Christmas to all! And a happy and prosperous New Year!

Joyce Lavene

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Through The Years

Like everything else, Christmas changes from year to year. You took part in the Christmas play at church and then waited with the anticipitation of that wonderful big fat guy to arrive and somehow gets into the house whether or not you had a chimney. As you tried to go to sleep you knew for sure you could really hear sleigh bells in the distance and the noise of hoofs on your roof. But no matter how hard you tried, you couldn't stay awake long enough to meet the jolly old man in person, though the cookies and milk you left were always gone in the morning. After all the gifts are open, you set out to have Christmas dinner at Grandma and Grandpa's house.

As you grew older and had children of your own you watch with pride as they take part in the Christmas play at church and then you get them home and put them to bed. You make a hundred trips down the hall to make sure they'd finally gone to sleep so you can put out the gifts and toys and gobble down the cookies and either pour out or drink the milk, write a note of thanks to the kids and stumble to bed to get a couple of hours sleep before they wake you with their yells in the morning.

When your children make you grandparents, the excitement still doesn't stop. You watch your grandchildren in the church Christmas play, knowing full well they're the best actors of the lot. then you rush home to start on Christmas dinner. Everyone will show up sometime the next day all excited, hungry and ready to devour in an hour or so the food you've lovingly planned and prepared for a week. As you watch them later around the tree your heart fills with pride and you know that Christmas is really the best family holiday of the year.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Santas everywhere!

I admit it. I like to wear a Santa hat. And this year, Target helped me out by making a Santa t-shirt. Some people think I'm strange but that's because they've never tried it.

People with frowns break out into smiles. Adults tell me they've been good and hope I'm coming to visit them at Christmas. People I've never met come across the parking lot to shake my hand. It's a nice feeling, especially at Christmas. Everyone loves Santa even a reasonable facsimile.

I had one man tell me I must be a helluva a man, secure in my masculinity, to wear something like that. He was only speaking of my Christmas socks at the time. I'd rather not know what he'd think of my hat and shirt.

But if that's what it means, then yes, I guess I am secure enough to wear something different and not worry about it. I was also a romance writer for several years. People looked at me funny for that once in a while too.

Come on, people. Lighten up! I thought we'd gotten rid of all those stereotypes a long time ago. Get yourself a Santa hat and give it a try. It always puts a smile on my face. I think it will yours too!

Jim Lavene

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Classics

  There's something wonderfully comforting about the way some things don't change around the holidays.  Or maybe I just force things to stay the same: I've been known to change the channel when modern pop stars sing their versions of old Christmas carols.  Give me Bing Crosby, Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, and Burl Ives over the latest stars anyday.

What would Christmas be without watching Charlie Brown's Christmas?  It came on past my bedtime when I was a kid, so watching it was a big deal.  I love everything about the production: Charlie Brown's rant against commercialism, the funny dances the kids do when they're supposed to be practicing the play, Snoopy freaking out Lucy by kissing her, Linus' retelling of Luke's Christmas story, and the pitiful Christmas tree that transforms with love.  I even enjoy the faulty animation (watch the kids' faces change color while the characters speak). 

Another great thing about Christmas is watching my children's reactions to the Christmas lights everywhere.  The tackier, the better, as far as they're concerned.  We usually try to go out one night before Christmas with some popcorn and some hot chocolate and drive around to see all the decorations.

The only thing left  to really enjoy myself this holiday is to find a good Christmas mystery.  I think I'm in the mood for a locked-room mystery or at least something set on an island or a snowbound village.  And if it can have a Christmas theme of some kind, all the better.  Thanks to Grave Matters for providing a reference list for me to use at the bookstore. 

Blogs and News:

Agent Rachelle Gardner's post on the necessity of writers having a "holiday plan."

Bleak House Books publishers  (and their Intrigue Press imprint) will be offering most of their line for free (you just pay shipping and handling.) 

An interesting post on the Mysterious Matters blog on how mystery writers should refrain from relying on "hunches" in their books.

An Urban Muse article on ways for writers to earn extra income.

Great book suggestions from Editorial Ass.

Just for fun: a quiz on what book you are, personality-wise.

Monday, December 1, 2008

'Tis the season

You know, I don't like this time of year. At least not as a writer. I feel like I should be writing but I don't really want to write. From Thanksgiving to January 1, I just want to shop, party, and hang out. I really don't want to do revisions or answer copyeditor questions (no offense to you copyeditors out there).

But sometimes we have no choice. Like any other job, there are things that have to be done.

I read once about a well-known writer who dove into the ocean (apparently in some warm climate) on January 1 each year then started to work on his next book. He had it finished by October but didn't start any new projects until January 1 came again. It meant he didn't write or revise over the holidays. Ever.

I don't know if I will ever have that kind of freedom in my schedule but it sounds good. The best I can manage now is to do what has to be done between bouts of partying and shopping. I know it will be January 1 again sometime and I'll be ready to write again. Just not right now. It's Cyber Monday, you know!

Joyce Lavene