Tag Archives: Banana Bamboozle

What If?

I’m still reeling over a conversation I had with a friend at my book club the other night.

In passing I said something about wondering what your life would be like if you’d never had kids. She looked at me as if I had inadvertently started reciting ancient Sanskrit texts about cheesemaking.

She said she never did anything like that.

She must have misunderstood me. “You’ve never come upon a car accident and been thankful that you stopped to tie your shoe or else it could have been you t-boned in the intersection?”

Nope.

“You’ve never pictured how your life would be now if you’d gone to a different college or grown up in a different town or been born a different race … or … or?”

Nope.

I’m still stunned because I think about things like that forty-leven times a day.

What if my boys hadn’t been in marching band in high school? I wouldn’t have met her or been in this book club.

What if my oldest son hadn’t worked a crap retail job where he met a kid who joined the Navy? He wouldn’t have joined and wouldn’t have worked in emergency medicine to find out how much he loved it. Plus, my younger son wouldn’t have joined and therefore wouldn’t have been in Guam to meet and marry his lovely wife. And what if she hadn’t joined the Navy?

What if we hadn’t taken that vacation to the Pacific northwest? My daughter wouldn’t have fallen in love with the area, wouldn’t be living there now, and wouldn’t have met and married her lovely husband. And what if they didn’t have the mutual friend who introduced them at her birthday party? What if she decided not to have that party?

What if I’d have chosen a different college? I wouldn’t have met hubs or created those amazing creatures we call our children.

Those questions never end for me and it honestly never occurred to me that everyone doesn’t do the same thing.

My family will attest to the fact that I’m a planner. I love lists and any/all methods of organization. I ALWAYS have a contingency plan. I’ve seen those people on the side of the highway with a flat tire on their way to the airport. I ALWAYS know who I can call to rescue me in any situation.

Lest you think I’m a complete whackjob, because I fear it’s beginning to show, this doesn’t preoccupy all my thoughts and actions. But I take comfort in knowing regardless of what the universe throws at me, I have a way (often several) to cope.

Of course, who’s to say that your life would be better or worse if one little butterfly flapped his wings differently? It’s all utterly unknowable, and maybe that’s the draw for me.

In my novels I tend to explore the issue of a perfectly ordinary someone thrown into extraordinary circumstances. What will they do? What would I do?

In Banana Bamboozle, a slightly overweight middle-aged woman sees a girl she is convinced is her niece, even though the niece died as an infant.

In Marshmallow Mayhem, she and her cohorts stumble on a dead body.

In the new mystery I’m *thisclose* to finishing, a midlist mystery writer is pulled kicking and screaming into a murder investigation that hits way too close to home.

What would I do? What would you do?

And for years I’ve been noodling over a novel about the seemingly inconsequential choices we make every single day that could lead to either your best day or your worst, if only you veered left instead of right. Guess what the working title is? Yep … “What If?”

The concept fascinates me. Maybe that’s why I’m a writer.

What about you … do you ever play the ‘What If’ game? Do you think I’m a complete whackjob? Because of this or all the other weird stuff you might know about me?

Bouchercon, the Universe, and Me

If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you’ve perhaps already heard some of my unbelievable story.

But I wanted to give you a bit of background, as well as document for myself this weird, weird coincidence. I have another wild story about being sued and landing on 20/20 which I also had to document because every time I told it, I thought, “That’s crazy! Must have been a dream.”

At any rate, in the last few months, I kind of lost my writing mojo. Sales on BANANA BAMBOOZLE and MARSHMALLOW MAYHEM had tanked and I couldn’t get any new reviews (C’mon! Three reviews? Not cool.), I was struggling with the writing of my new manuscript, but why bother because sales are bad, my marketing isn’t working, why bother to market, who has time to market because I’m trying to write this ridiculously bad book, I suck, what am I thinking, I should get a real job, or maybe just sit on the couch all day and drink.

You may have heard this conversation in your own head once or twice.

Around this time, I was lucky to get the fantastic opportunity to be on the ground floor of starting a new Sisters in Crime chapter here in Colorado. So I stepped away from the half-finished manuscript completely and did other things instead.

I dove into my new Programming duties for SinC-CO.

Becky Clark 9 4x6 300dpiI shopped for my mother-of-the-bride dress. And watched some football.

I gave myself a pedicure and flossed my teeth.

I got my Lazy Squirrel Purses store on Etsy open for business. (And made my first sale! Squee!) spine

 

Then a month or so ago, I picked up that half-finished manuscript and read it. And it wasn’t completely horrible. My eyes didn’t even bleed. So I started working on it again, and actually began to have some fun.

But as any of you creative types know, once you stare into the abyss of crushing self-doubt like that, you always kind of see it out of the corner of your eye. One false step and you’re whooshed right back in.

Fast forward to yesterday. At about noon, I typed THE END on the first draft of the new manuscript. Yippee!

After a bit of celebratory facebooking and back patting, I went back to my to-do list, one item of which was to sign up for Bouchercon 2016. I got that all squared away, then called the hotel for reservations.

I was on the phone with the Marriott in New Orleans or wherever the reservation place was. Tessa, my lovely representative, was having all kinds of glitchy computer problems so I was on the phone for awhile. We had ample opportunity to chat. She asked what Bouchercon was and I told her it was for readers and writers of mysteries and thrillers and such.

She said, “I love mysteries. I have a lot of favorites. I read something by … what was her name … I’m pretty sure it was Clark, like you. Banana something.”

Heart stopping pause on my end. “Bamboozle?”

“Yes! I loved it. And there’s a Marshmallow one coming out soon. I can’t wait to read it.”

“Um, it’s already out. I wrote both of those.”

We both fan-squealed, although technically, I might have shrieked.

WHAT. ARE. THE. ODDS???

The moral of the story, Best Beloved, is that we don’t have any idea who we touch ”” or when, or how, or even why ”” with our writing. I don’t quite understand the machinations, but yesterday, the Universe decided to let me have a peek behind that curtain.

Tomorrow it might be your turn, so never, ever quit. And always, always stay at the Marriott.

Top Ten Reasons To Sign Up For My So-Seldom-It’s-Shameful Newsletter

Top Ten Reasons To Sign Up For My So Seldom It’s Shameful Newsletter

10. Every time I get 100 new subscribers, everyone on the list is entered to win a fabulous prize

9. The longer you’re a subscriber, the more chances you have to win ”” I’ll say it again ”” fabulous prizes

8. When MARSHMALLOW MAYHEM (the sequel to BANANA BAMBOOZLE) is released as an ebook, you’ll hear about it first

7. When the MARSHMALLOW MAYHEM ebook goes free (and it will), you’ll ONLY hear about it if you’re a subscriber

6. You’ll make my mom happy

5. Getting your friends to subscribe (hmm, perhaps by sharing this) gets you a higher place in heaven (and more opportunities to win, even though you don’t have a single selfish bone in your body and would never be anything other than altruistic)

4. I won’t guilt-haunt your dreams

3. Your email inbox wants something delightfully non-work-related for a change

2. Subscribing to my list is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick

And the number one reason to sign up for my So Seldom It’s Shameful Newsletter …

1. You’ll get funny short stories to entertain you that will be not be published anywhere else. Consider it my gift to you as thanks for supporting my endeavors. Maybe backstory, like finding out what the heck happened to Dan and Cassidy in Las Vegas. Maybe part of a work-in-progress that doesn’t quite fit anymore. Maybe something that will change your life and leave you weeping in gratitude. Or perhaps an epic Homeric poem about scrambled eggs. Could be anything.

Do it. You know you want to. Clickedy click …. right here.

(Thanks. You’re the best.)

Tattered Cover Book Store

I finally have all my little booky ducks in a row with one of the world’s finest independent bookstores.

Tattered CoverAll of my books are available from Amazon, either in print or for your Kindle, or both.

But not everyone likes to deal with them, so I have a delightful alternative for you … Denver’s fabulous Tattered Cover Book Store. [Full disclosure, if you use my links to do your shopping at the Tattered Cover, whether you buy my books or not, I earn a penny or a shiny button or a pat on the head or something.]

The Tattered Cover rents and ships books, has three huge locations plus satellite stores at Union Station and the Denver airport, tons of author events, and a staff that knows, quite literally, every-single-thing.

And now, they also sell two of my books. There’s something quite special about seeing your book on a bookstore shelf. A long time ago, I was in my local Borders Books and stumbled upon my first book (out of print now) on the sale rack. The really, really on sale rack. You’d think that would be sad, but you’d be wrong. It was just as thrilling. Perhaps I’m a Pollyanna, but I thought, “Yay! Some thrifty, budget-conscious person can buy this for their kid.”

Thanks for letting me share my excitement. And, remember … buying books is an excellent way to support local businesses and your favorite writers. Plus, they make perfect gifts ”” always the right size and so easy to wrap! (Click on the covers and go straight to my Tattered Cover page.)

a funny mystery

Simple, healthy, no-fuss recipes

Happy Reading, Happy Cooking, Happy Shopping … Happy Happy!

(Nah, I’m not a Pollyanna.)

What’s That Shadowy Place?

I’m more than halfway done with MARSHMALLOW MAYHEM, the follow-up to BANANA BAMBOOZLE.

The full first draft of MAYHEM needs to be in the hands of my beta readers by September 1st so I’m keeping to a fairly strict schedule. I write most days for about three or four hours. In that time, I can get a fairly solid chapter or long scene.

As much as I like to write, and as interested as I am in this project, I still have to force/bribe/threaten myself to get started most days.

My son mentioned recently that it doesn’t seem like I enjoy writing.

I don’t think he gets it. Actually, I don’t think anyone who doesn’t write can ever really get it.

Writing is hard. But, like exercise, once you start, it’s marvelous and feels especially delightful when you’re done. When you’ve accomplished something. When you’ve wrangled what’s in your head, lassoed it into coherent sentences, tied its legs with a hitch-knot and thrown your hands in the air. A worthy adversary, certainly, but you’re the one at the end wearing the trophy belt buckle.

You don’t earn the belt buckle until you win. And you don’t win until you begin.

There are five minutes before you start writing, when you’re gathering your supplies, your notes, your thoughts. Every word is shiny. Every sentence flawless. Every paragraph polished.

But then the fear settles over you, suffocating, smothering, cajoling. You’re not talented enough. You’re certainly not smart enough. You can’t possibly write a novel.

You take a breath.

And begin.

lion king meme

 

Book Club

I’ll be forever grateful to the ladies comprising the very first book club who read BANANA BAMBOOZLE. Insightful discussion, kind comments, enthusiasm … everything an author might want!

The ringleader asked the group about their secret addictions, starting with me, but I couldn’t think of any. Perhaps it was the word ‘secret’ that  threw me. But as each woman answered, I’d pipe up, “Oh, I do that!” … “Oh, I do that too!” … “And that!”

I won the coveted Most Messed Up trophy. Very proud day, indeed.

Look how cute they are! I think everyone was sitting because that was AFTER we bamboozled.

Bamboozle book club copy

Here’s hoping your book club is equally fantabulous!

Kirsten Vangness Gets Bamboozled

Wouldn’t you just die if Shemar Moore whispered, “Hey, Baby Girl” in your ear?

Because their characters on Criminal Minds have that flirty will they/won’t they vibe going, Kirsten Vangness gets that every week … and Moore! (See what I did there?)

But she still took time to give Banana Bamboozle a shout-out, which puts me over the moon. Practically as good as if Shemar Moore whispered in my ear.

She’s almost too adorable for the internet, but I’m going to post this anyway and hope nothing explodes.

Kirsten Vangness:Penelope Garcia

Ever Have ‘Hummina, Hummina, Hummina’ Moments?

I’ve been asked to join a blog tour. Normally the phrase “blog tour” makes me run screaming from the room, rending my garments and foaming at the mouth, but not this time.

Why, you ask? Two reasons. First, because I was invited by DeAnna Knippling over at Wonderland Press. She knows stuff and I’m a little bit scared of her. Her latest release is Alice’s Adventures in Underland: The Queen of Stilled Hearts, a serial set in a Victorian London in which the zombies have been civilized…mostly.  It’s a historical dark fantasy about a little girl trapped in her society, and the man who tried to give her the key for getting the better of it.

Right??

The second reason I joined the blog tour was because this one was so easy. Most of the time blog tours require months of preparation, scads of PR and abstaining from alcohol for the duration. Or so I’ve been told.

But here, all I have to do is answer four little questions. The kicker? People actually want to know the answers to these! I know this because they’ve, you know, asked me.

1. What am I working on now?

I am about halfway through the first draft of the next Dunne Diehl Mystery, picking up where BANANA BAMBOOZLE left off. I don’t want to give too much away, but MARSHMALLOW MAYHEM involves a dead body, a winter road trip in a recalcitrant RV, edible marijuana, and an adorable, absolutely silent dog, who might actually get a couple chapters of her own. I have fun writing it and I hope people will have fun reading it.

I’m also working on some short story background vignettes, for lack of a pithier name. My characters Dan and Cassidy have a long history together and have found themselves in many hilarious situations. But I can’t put them all in the books, so I’m writing separate short pieces for certain escapades. For instance, in BAMBOOZLE I referenced a trip to Las Vegas. So many readers asked me what happened there, that I feel compelled to overlook the rule that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. But you’ll only get these short adventures if you sign up for my mailing list.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Most cozy mysteries have an element of humor to them, but I’ve been told that BANANA BAMBOOZLE  had more than its share of laugh-out-loud moments. I hope that’s true, but I’ve lost all perspective about that. I always think I’m freakin’ hilarious.

BananaBamboozle front cover3. Why do I write what I write?

I tend to write what I like to read, and I love the cozy mystery genre. BAMBOOZLE  was my first foray into writing one, however. I was coming off a spate of writing books for kids and a bunch of low-calorie cookbooks so I was itching for a change of pace. I also love funny books, but writing humor is difficult. I wanted to see if I could sustain it through an entire novel, rather than just a blog post or Facebook status update.

4. How does my writing process work?

I am an outliner. It’s not your 5th grade teacher’s outline, though. Ted Hardwick, my fab and funny co-writer, and I have conversations (many of them) so we know the broad strokes of the plot. We hammer out a synopsis from this, which is really just 2 or 3 pages of telling the story, as if we were writing a letter to a friend about something that had happened to us. No specifics, unless it’s germane to the plot ”” clues, characters, locations, snippet of dialogue. Then it gets transformed into an “outline.” I use quotes because it’s really just what has to happen in each chapter or scene to move the story to the end. No Roman numerals or subheads involved.

I like having a plan when I write because I always know exactly what to do the minute I pull up the draft. I never have moments where I look at the screen and think “Hummina, hummina, hummina. Where do I start?”

When I wrote BAMBOOZLE I had a trick of stopping every day in the middle of a sentence so I only had to read a couple of sentences and then ”” boom  ”” I’m right back in it the next day. For MAYHEM, though, I’m trying something new. In my daily allotted writing time, I force myself to write an entire chapter. It’s a bit bare bones, but I want to get in the habit of writing faster so I can produce at least a book every year. Two would be even better. I love first drafts but hate ”” with the white-hot intensity of ten thousand suns ”” revisions. I’m better at adding purses and jewelry to the outfit of a story rather than pulling a thread and having the entire skirt unravel.

That’s a bit about my writing process. Share your process. I love hearing how other writers write and I hope you do too!

 

Book Launch Day for Banana Bamboozle!

BananaBamboozle front coverIf you signed up on my mailing list, you’ve already heard that today is National Goof Off Day which is the perfect day to launch a fun, easy read like Banana Bamboozle. You’ve also heard all the merriment we have planned around the launch for the next few days.

And if you didn’t sign up on my mailing list, you’ve done gone and broke my heart! (But you can always redeem yourself by doing it now!)

I can’t tell you all the Super Secret Stuff since you didn’t want to join the club (sob), but I can tell you that we’re having a Comment Contest on Facebook tomorrow, (Sunday March 23) and Monday (March 24). I’ll ask a question, you answer with your funniest, most delightful answer, and votes will be cast by complete strangers* pushing the ‘like’ button. Winners get signed books.

[*Not that you’d be so crass as to manipulate your friends into voting for you or anything, but the most ‘shares’ over the two days wins a prize too. Just sayin.]

If you’re not following me over at Facebook, just click the blue icon that says “Follow” in my sidebar, over thataway→→→→→→→ and probably ↓↓↓ too.

Okay, since you twisted my arm and said ‘purty please’, I’ll tell you one more thing. The electronic version of Banana Bamboozle will be free today, tomorrow and Monday. Click here to download it. All I ask in return is that if you like it, you post a quick review on Amazon and/or Goodreads.

The print edition is available here, but if you’d prefer to buy it from your local bookstore or request that your library carry it, just give them the ISBN: 978-1-4944-9471-1 and they can order it easy peasy.

Happy Bamboozling … and thanks for helping make the BANANA BAMBOOZLE Book Launch so much fun!

PS ”” Take a picture of how you spent National Goof Off Day (or any of your personal Goof Off Days) with your copy of Banana Bamboozle. When I get some good ones, I’ll post on my blog. Email jpgs to Becky (at) Becky Clark Books (dot) com … do I need to tell you there are no spaces? I’m never sure.