Thursday, November 29, 2012

New Locations, New Ideas

I wrote a guest post for the fabulous Maine Crime Writers blog recently about a week I spent on an island in Maine thirty years ago. I hold very fond memories of that week on Great Gott's Island.

It got me thinking about other places I have traveled, which are many and international. Which got me thinking about having my protagonist in the Local Foods Mysteries do some traveling later in the series. But it's a cozy series and cozies typically keep the action confined to one town, one setting. There are exceptions to this rule, especially in long-running series. Katherine Hall Page, for example, has set books in Maine, in France, and elsewhere, but usually goes back to her protagonist's Massachusetts town in between other locales.

I could reasonably have farmer Cam Flaherty attend the Common Ground organic farming conference in Unity, Maine, and then head to an island for a week of vacation. But it would be tricky for her to, say, spend time in Mali or Japan or Brazil, places I have lived and know well.

So maybe I need to come up with a new series with a protagonist who has a reason to travel to some of the far-flung places I have experienced as a resident. Sheila Connolly has a new series set in Ireland (and reports that she just got back from two weeks of "research" there, which sounds to me like just an excuse for a cool vacation). I read about someone who created a travel-agent protagonist for just that reason, and Gigi Pandian has a new series featuring an historian who also has just cause to travel (her first book is set in San Francisco and then Scotland).

Come to think of it, I already HAVE a protagonist with a reason to travel. Lauren Rousseau, the linguistics professor in Speaking of Murder, could plausibly head to Japan for an Asian Linguistics conference. Or to Mali to do research on Bamanankan, the first language of a large portion of the population. Or to Brazil, France, Quebec, Puerto Rico, and so on. 

So it looks like what I have to come up with is the TIME to write two series at once. Once I do that, I can also go on tax-deductible "research" trips - I look forward to that. 

What exotic place would you like to see a mystery series set in? What's your favorite travel mystery? Or do you prefer that your cozy protagonist stays settled in one place? 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Avid Newsletter Article

Cool. The following interview just appeared in my former employer's employee newsletter! Along with my picture and the book cover. Thanks, Avid

Avid Solutions Help Solve the Crime in Speaking of Murder

From a former Avid technical writer to a successful author, Edith Maxwell has been making a name for herself in the publishing world with her recent book, Speaking of Murder. The mystery novel is about the murder of a student at a small New England college and follows the plight of the heroine as she strives to solve the murder with help from Avid solutions.

Maxwell, who goes by the pen name “Tace Baker” for Speaking of Murder, worked at Avid from November 1994 to October 2008, and while she was here, she wrote the Xpress Pro documentation and the Interplay Assist book, among others.

We had the opportunity to ask Maxwell a few questions aboutSpeaking of Murder, why she included Avid solutions in her book and if she plans to write more books in the future.

What inspired you to write Speaking of Murder?
Ever since I heard about the dTective application by Ocean Systems, which works with Avid Media Composer, I wanted to use it for crime solving in a mystery novel or short story. dTective is used by police departments to clarify surveillance video, add height markers, and much more in the pursuit of bad guys. Speaking of Murder also features Lauren Rousseau, a linguistics professor, as the amateur sleuth, and I earned a PhD in linguistics in 1981, so I am well acquainted with academia and the field of linguistics. I put those together in my book and went from there.

Can you provide examples of how you included Avid’s solutions in your novel and explain why?
I reference Avid several times. Lauren's boyfriend, Zac, is a video forensics expert who uses the dTective application in his work for the local police department. He explains it to Lauren and demonstrates it to her on his laptop in one important scene. Lauren's mother is a retired technical writer who wrote user documentation for Avid and we see her talking to Zac about that. I also show Avid NewsCutter being used in a news truck at the scene of a fire. It's all just part of the story, but I enjoyed working those real-life references in.

Do you plan to write more books and will you reference Avid solutions in future books?
Of course I am writing more books! The sequel to Speaking of Murder is about two-thirds written, but it doesn't feature Avid software. I'm sure I'll get back to it in a future book, though.
To learn more about Speaking of Murder and to see what other books Maxwell is working on, go and

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Next Big Thing

Thanks to author Nancy Adams for inviting me to take part in this fun event. Check out her blog from last week where she answers the same questions about her work in progress, titled CHIMERA, that I do below. 

"The Next Big Thing" was started by blogger She Writes to help female authors promote their current work by answering a set of ten questions and then "tagging" other writers, inviting them to do the same. 

Here's my contribution.

What is your working title of your book?
'Til Dirt Do Us Part

Where did the idea come from for the book?
It's the second book in my Local Foods Mystery series, and I wanted to set it in the fall, so it opens at a Farm-to-Table dinner on farmer Cam Flaherty's organic farm with the food cooked by a local chef. We get to meet a few new characters and touch base with the regulars from the first book, A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die. I modeled the dinner on the fabulous one I attended at month ago at Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury (that's a pic of the table). Phat Cats Bistro did the cooking with all local ingredients and it was, excuse the expression, to die for!

What genre does your book fall under?
This is a cozy mystery series -- think Agatha Christie's Miss Marple. The protagonist is Cam Flaherty, an amateur sleuth. The violence is all off screen and the action takes place in a circumscribed area, in this case her farm, the fictional small town it's in, and a nearby small city.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Oh, my! That's a challenge. Maybe Clare Dane for Cam - she's about the right age and can be both serious and funny, although she's not really tall enough. As for Jake, the chef and romantic interest - I don't know. I'd need a really tall Scandinavian-looking man with some weight on him. Any ideas?

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

During the fall harvest dinner at the end of Cam Flaherty's first season, she has no idea that a toxic threat to her quiet life as an organic farmer festers under society's topsoil.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I'm really fortunate to be represented by John Talbot and the series is published by Kensington Publishing.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It took me about six months to write the first draft of A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die, and that's my goal for 'Til Dirt Do Us Part, too. I have a full-time day job, so it's tricky!

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Sheila Connolly's Orchard Mystery series, Paige Shelton's Farmers Market Mystery series, and Susan Wittig Albert's China Bayles Herbal Mystery series are all cozies with a farm theme.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I was an organic farmer myself many years ago so I know the language and tensions of growing food for a living. I love diving back into that world and creating stories within it.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The Local Foods movement is getting more and more popular. Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle tracked her family's project of eating only locally produced food for a year and popularized the term locavore. So members of the Westbury Locavore Club belong to Cam's farm-share program, or CSA. Also, Cam is a geek, a former software engineer, which informs her personality and some of her interactions.

Next week be sure to check out "The Next Big Thing" from the following authors who are carrying on this event!
What do you think the next big thing will be? Have you heard of locavores? Leave a question or comment (along with your email address) and win a free copy of my first mystery, Speaking of Murder.