Interview Transcripts

Connie Shelton: Mystery Writer and LR Instructor 10/6/05

Event start time:

Thu Oct 06 19:03:30 2005

Event end time:

Thu Oct 06 21:13:42 2005



Legend:
Questions from the Audience are presented in red.
Answers by the Speaker are in black.
The Moderator's comments are in blue.

Mary Rosenblum

Hello, all!

 

Welcome to our Professional Connection live interview.

 

Tonight, my guest is Connie Shelton.

 

Connie Shelton is the author of the Charlie Parker mystery series. The newest is due for release this Fall. Connie has been writing since 1985 and her experience also includes five years as senior editor at Intrigue Press, three years with Long Ridge, and teaching at numerous conferences and workshops.

 

So Connie, welcome! And when IS the new book due out? Or is it?

Connie Shelton

Hi Mary and all. Thanks for having me here.

 

Yes, the new book is out in New Mexico right now

 

on a limited basis. Will be out nationwide in November.

Mary Rosenblum

Cool! Is it out with Intrigue?

Connie Shelton

Yes, Intrigue published this one. It's the ninth in my Charlie Parker mystery series.

Mary Rosenblum

That's a nice long series, and I'll certainly have more to ask you about writing a long series like this...but let's begin with the beginning. J How did you get started writing?

Connie Shelton

I got started about the time Sue Grafton and Marcia Muller and some of the other

 

present day women mystery writers were just hitting fame.

Mary Rosenblum

Did you start with novels...and the Parker series?

Connie Shelton

Actually, I'd written two longer novels first (never published ones). They were those long

 

multigenerational sagas, which unfortunately were sort of falling out of favor with NY publishing in the early 90s.

 

Then I got the brilliant idea to try a mystery series because, after all, that's mostly what I read. It certainly showed that it's important

 

to read in the genre you intend to write. I found the mysteries lots of fun.

Mary Rosenblum

You know, I can't stress that too often to would be novelists...write in the genre you read! Do you have any thoughts

 

on why that is?

 

 

Connie Shelton

Absolutely! I think it's impossible to write fiction unless you're very familiar with the genre

 

you intend to write. I, for instance, could never write a sci-fi novel because I just read so few of them.

 

You need to know what's going on in the market, what's on the bestseller lists for that genre...

 

and what the trends are. Not to say that you can possibly write to fill a trend, but you've got to be up on what others are writing in your field.

Mary Rosenblum

I totally agree. And I think part of that is that every genre has its own set

 

of reader expectations and unwritten 'rules' and even if you can't identify them, you 'know them when you read them' or write them, as the case may be.

Connie Shelton

Exactly. Plus, I think it helps to meet other people--writers, fans, agents, etc.--in your genre.

 

I love attending mystery conventions because the talk is all about my favorite subject.

 

I get exposed to a lot of very good writing and books I may not have otherwise heard of by attending.

Mary Rosenblum

Which is a great reason to attend conventions in your chosen genre, yes?

Connie Shelton

Yes, I recommend it to every fiction writer.

writeaway

Welcome, Connie!

tory

Connie, did you find your first mysteries harder to write than your sagas? I love mysteries, but fear I couldn't do twists and turns well enough.

Connie Shelton

Hi. I think I actually found the mysteries somewhat easier to write

 

because there's sort of a formula.

 

Before I let that one go, I should say that we never want a book to be formulaic, but there are certain expectations that are easy to follow.

Mary Rosenblum

What are those expectations, Connie?

Connie Shelton

Well, in modern mysteries for the adult markets, the crime is typically a murder

 

so that means there's going to be a dead body somewhere.

 

And there'll be a sleuth, police, or just plain nosy neighbor (like Jessica Fletcher) who wants to see the crime solved.

speckledorf

Do you have a specific way you plant clues? Any hints you can give us?

Connie Shelton

I often find myself writing along, coming to a point in the story where I want the investigator to

 

discover something, so I'll go back to my manuscript and plant the clues that would lead her to that item.

 

Sometimes I'm able to plot well enough that I know when I'll need a clue and I put it in right from the start.

 

But the beauty of writing is that we get to go back and add, subtract, fix things after the first draft stage.

 

Cute story: One mystery writer friend of mine claims that he just writes along, planting clues

 

all over the place. At the end of the story, the ones that turned out to lead to the murder were clues.

 

The rest were red herrings!

Mary Rosenblum

I'm chuckling, Connie. I think I could get a bit touchy as a reader if I found myself knee deep in red herrings!

Connie Shelton

True, true :-)

Mary Rosenblum

But I'm glad to know that I'm not the only mystery writer to go back and plant clues after I write the story!

Connie Shelton

No kidding! If I couldn't revise, I'd be really stuck!

Mary Rosenblum

So tell us...how do you plant that clue without drawing the attention of those sharp-eyed and keen-minded mystery readers who are just watching for those clues?

Connie Shelton

Good question. I'm very lucky that I have a sharp-eyed pre-reader, my husband.

 

He gets to see each book before I even send it to my editor and he's pretty sharp at picking out the things that don't ring true

 

and not shy about saying so!

Mary Rosenblum

A good reader really helps!

Connie Shelton

Yes--that's another thing I can't stress enough for all writers.

 

Find people you trust--at least 2 or 3--and run the book past them before attempting to market it.

 

By 'people you trust' I don't mean your mom or your best friend. Try to find another published writer, an editor, someone with a professional opinion.

Mary Rosenblum

And I think that's the real key...find someone who can tell you WHY they think it works, or where the weakness lies. Another starting writer is good, yes?

Connie Shelton

Exactly--you don't want to just hear "I loved it!" You want to know what parts work and what parts don't

 

especially what parts don't work. It's easy to get our dander up when someone criticizes

 

but we want to analyze their critique thoughtfully and try to see how we could rewrite to fix those bits.

 

Often changing a few words or a paragraph can make all the difference.

redraven

How do you avoid giving away too much info too soon?

Connie Shelton

Great question! I've actually dumped as much as 2 or 3 pages of a first draft when I realized that I'd just foretold the ending.

 

To avoid it, I think you mainly want to analyze carefully as you write, but also to be prepared

 

to cut ruthlessly after the first draft stage if it's necessary.

 

This is one place where my hubby is definitely a good critiquer.

 

He can spot the ending in a movie very VERY early on. If I give him one of my books and he says he knows whodunnit,

 

then I know I have some rewriting to do.

Mary Rosenblum

Ah, that kind of input is invaluable. :-) I have a friend who owns a mystery bookstore and is a lifelong reader. :-) She also is REALLY good at spotting endings. It really helps.

Connie Shelton

Yes, feedback can be very important.

 

You also have to trust your gut instinct a lot

 

and watch out for anything that reeks of being predictable. I often ask myself

 

at a critical juncture in the plot, what's the worst thing that could happen right now?

 

It tends to keep the plot fresh if you can throw in a surprise.

 

One veteran writer once said when things slow down drop a body through the roof. Dramatic, yes, but you get the idea.

Mary Rosenblum

LOL...now that is one I haven't tried. Now I'll have to think up an Ellery Queen story where I can do that!

Connie Shelton

Good idea!

tory

Do you pay readers? Seems it'd be hard to get editors who are already so overwhelmed with piles waiting to be read.

Connie Shelton

I haven't ever paid a reader. Here's where knowing people in the business really helps.

 

I mentioned attending lots of mystery conferences... Most of my readers have come from contacts

 

made at those. Other authors, mainly.

Mary Rosenblum

And here is yet another reason to attend writers’ conferences. It is a great place to network and make critiquing contacts with other writers.

 

And...I swap stories with quite a few unpublished writers I meet at cons.

 

You can connect with pros as well as new writers.

Connie Shelton

Absolutely--I've met lots of people in the business, including agents and editors. You just never know who will be the person truly important to your career.

redraven

Are mystery conferences open only to published writers?

Connie Shelton

Not at all--most of them, in fact, are specifically geared toward the goal of fans meeting writers, published and not.

 

Many, many new writers end up meeting lifelong friends at these things. And, in the mystery field especially

 

fans are very eager to know about new writers. It's quite a heady feeling to go

 

and have people ask about your work in progress. They love to find out about new writers.

Mary Rosenblum

What would you suggest in terms of good mystery conventions for aspiring writers?

Connie Shelton

Bouchercon is the biggest--usually in the fall of each year, and it moves to a different city each year.

 

You can search Bouchercon 2006 online (I'm pretty sure) to find out where the next one is.

Mary Rosenblum

Bouchercon 2006 Website

Connie Shelton

I also recommend that writers join professional organizations for their genre.

 

Mystery Writers of America (in NY) and Sisters in Crime (with chapters nationwide) are the two biggest in mystery.

 

Look them up and see about joining. Their newsletters are filled with listings of events, conferences, booksellers who love mystery...gosh, everything!

Mary Rosenblum

And they have the Guppies.

 

Isn’t that a group for unpublished writers?

 

Sisters in Crime Website

Connie Shelton

Yes--I always thought that was a cute title. Sisters in Crime's group of unpublished, the Great Unpublished, as they say, are the Guppies.

Mary Rosenblum

They have an internet chapter, too.

Connie Shelton

Yes, with some terrific interaction, a chat room I think, and loads of news about mystery.

 

SinC's mission is to help gain notice for (particularly) women mystery writers, but lots of men belong too, and are most welcome.

Mary Rosenblum

They have local chapters, too, that have speakers, regular meetings. I highly recommend it.

Connie Shelton

Yes... a wonderful group!

Mary Rosenblum

There is also Left Coast Crime, which is normally held in the western half of the US, but in Feb 2006 it is in Bristol, UK.

trainer

How often do you let someone critique your work or do you wait until you have it finished first?

Connie Shelton

I have to wait until I feel the work is finished. I've never shown a first draft to anyone.

 

Something about not letting my baby out there until it's ready. Once I've got the ms as finished as I think I can

 

or when I'm thoroughly sick of it, then I'll pass out copies to 2 or 3 readers.

 

When I get their comments back I'll analyze everything. If all of them brought out a certain point, that's something I'll

 

definitely address. If one of them loved a certain part, but the others didn't, then I have to figure out what I'll do about that.

beckylady

Do you ever start a mystery without knowing whodunnit?

Connie Shelton

Usually not. I usually have a pretty good idea what the crime is, how it happened, and whodunnit.

 

That said, I did have one case in my very first mystery, where it became apparent to me

 

about two-thirds of the way through, that it would be WAY too obvious who the killer was

 

So I killed off that person and had to come up with another suspect.

Mary Rosenblum

Oh, that must have been fun!

Connie Shelton

Challenging, too! I had to figure who in my cast had motive to have killed both victims!

Mary Rosenblum

And this is an excellent example of making big changes when the story demands it.

Connie Shelton

Sometimes, it just happens that way.

Mary Rosenblum

You know, Connie, of the biggest puzzles to new mystery writers is the bewildering array of subgenres. Want to talk about them for a bit here?

Connie Shelton

Sure, because I think it's important to define this to yourself before you start writing.

 

Mainly because that's going to be one of the first questions an editor will ask when you propose a book or a series.

 

Usually mysteries fall into several definite categories: The police procedural is what it sounds like --

 

the sleuths are police officers, forensics specialists, etc--professionals in police work.

 

Private eyes are privately hired investigators.

 

It pays to know the laws in your state for PIs, how they're licensed, what their legal limits are.

 

My character, Charlie Parker, is an amateur sleuth (another subgenre). She's an accountant who sort of gets pulled into cases against her better judgment.

 

Think Jessica Fletcher when you're writing a cozy. These usually involved an amateur sleuth who

 

doesn't tote a gun or practice karate, necessarily, just your sweet little lady next door.

 

Does that pretty well cover the subgenres?

Mary Rosenblum

So we have police procedurals...pros investigating crimes...amateur detectives...your everyday person who gets drawn in

 

and cozies...the small and intimate mysteries.

 

I think that pretty well covers it.

 

Oh wait...hard boiled!

 

Forgot that.

Connie Shelton

Another fun one is the caper.

 

Your bumbling bank robber, jewel heist gone wrong, etc. Donald Westlake is an excellent writer in this.

writeaway

How about paranormal mystery?

Connie Shelton

There are a few. Nancy Atherton's series about Aunt Dimity comes to mind.

 

Technically, those might also be amateur sleuths, but I think paranormal describes them well, too.

Mary Rosenblum

I heard that Berkely Prime Crime is now doing paranormals.

Connie Shelton

Another good reason to stay on top of the markets and know what's being published.

tami74

Connie, love your visit tonight....just wanted to say hello from up here in Canada! So Hello!!!

Connie Shelton

Hi, is this Tammy B?

tami74

yes

Mary Rosenblum

Ah, your student, Connie?

Connie Shelton

Hey, it's great that you're here. Yes, one of my favorite students... She's working on some great stuff

Mary Rosenblum

Cool! Welcome, Tami. Glad you could make it.

gail

How do you decide on your "other suspects" and their motives? Do you draw from or add to the victim's backstory?

Connie Shelton

As a good writer, good friend says, when starting to plot a mystery ask yourself, What's important enough to kill for?

 

Once you've established that

 

you'll begin to build your other suspects. You'll get a good idea of who the killer is, what the victim's

 

backstory is and who else would fit. Motives seem to come along naturally after that.

Mary Rosenblum

Would you say that strong characterization is particularly important in mystery, then?

Connie Shelton

Yes, I think the whole story revolves (and evolves) around character.

 

It's a lengthy subject to get into here, unless you want to hang around until about 2 a.m.

 

but I'd highly recommend that you read Elizabeth George's book, Write Away.

 

It's a terrific book for all fiction writers, but really, really apropos for mystery folks.

janp

Hi Connie, Your view on mystery as a short story.

beckylady

Any suggestions for writing short story mysteries?

Mary Rosenblum

We have quite a few people writing shorts for LR of course!

Connie Shelton

There are some great mystery short story markets (Hitchcock's, Ellery queen), so yes, they're strong right now.

 

Mainly you have to keep the story VERY tight. The crime needs to be established right away.

 

and the clues need to come along rapidly. Not much time to develop backstory, so don’t.

 

Just get the sleuth right to work putting together the clues and solving the case.

Mary Rosenblum

Good suggestions, Connie!

writeaway

Did your Charlie Parker series start out with a definite number of books in mind?

Connie Shelton

No, I was hoping to get at least 3 published...

 

Beyond that, I had no idea how it would go--now we're up to 9--imagine that!

writeaway

LOL. I think you made it.

Connie Shelton

Thanks!

redraven

Is Charlie similar to you in personality?

Connie Shelton

Oh yeah. She's become my alter ego, I think.

 

She didn't start out that way, but writing in first person tends to put your own thoughts into the character's head.

 

I guess I wouldn't recommend a whole series written in first person, unless you truly like the person you've created.

Mary Rosenblum

But it has clearly worked for you. :-)

Connie Shelton

So far, so good anyway!

Mary Rosenblum

As long as we're talking about first person...which do you think is easier for a novice writer --

 

a first person novel or a third person...as mystery, I mean?

Connie Shelton

Wow--that's really hard to say.

 

It probably depends on how you tend to think. I guess I find it easier to be inside

 

Charlie's head and bring out her thoughts, and consequently the plot of the story, through her eyes.

 

Other writers like the freedom of switching viewpoints (can't do that in 1st person), so they go with third.

 

As a reader, I like either one. It just takes me a few pages to get into the rhythm of the writers style and then I really enjoy the story.

writeaway

Doesn't it tend to make you write tighter when you write in first person?

Connie Shelton

It does for me. I'm not sure if all writers feel that way, but you are definitely limited to

 

writing only what your character can actually witness.

redraven

Have you ever wanted to create a different sleuth?

Connie Shelton

I've thought about it. Haven't come up with one that I absolutely love yet.

 

Right now I'm working on a book that will be multi-viewpoint, more suspense than mystery, and that's been a fun change of pace.

Mary Rosenblum

Cool. Will you aim for the mystery genre or the thriller genre?

Connie Shelton

Probably thriller, although I'd love it if the book crossed all lines and appealed to a very wide audience

 

well, wouldn't we all love that? :-)

Mary Rosenblum

I think it's called bestseller, Connie! :-) Would we NOT love that!

Connie Shelton

You got that right!

writeaway

In a series, does your sleuth age or do you tend to keep her the same?

Connie Shelton

I've let her age a bit, but not as rapidly as the actual number of years that have gone by.

 

She was thirty when she started, 10 years ago, she's roughly 33 now. But I've had to

 

fudge that a little. I wrote myself into a corner with this, when I made her dog ten years old in the first book, and

 

her neighbor 87. Well, I certainly can't let either of them die, so I've begun to be very hazy about the time frame.

Mary Rosenblum

Ah the things we don't anticipate when we start what turns into a series!

roe

LOL wouldn't we all love to age that way?

Connie Shelton

Exactly. Who'da thought?

 

Yeah, I'd love to only have aged 3 years since I started writing this series!

roe

So I guess we better be careful how old we make our characters especially for a series.

Mary Rosenblum

Or the supporting characters..or the pets!

Connie Shelton

It's one of those lessons... Unless you're Sue Grafton and know you'll do 26 books.

 

She has a definite plan for how she's handling the whole age question.

roe

Glad you mentioned it though, cause I honestly never gave it a thought

Connie Shelton

Like Mary said, you can never anticipate everything with a series. J

Mary Rosenblum

While we're talking about series, Connie, and mysteries do tend to run to series...how difficult has it been to keep the series 'fresh'?

Connie Shelton

Well, I've incorporated a lot of changes into Charlie's personal life, which I think has helped.

 

She was a single, freewheeling gal in the beginning...met Mr. Right, married, traveled a lot

 

and who knows for the future? Don't want to give anything away.

 

Seriously, though, it is something to consider. Sue Grafton is one of my favorite mystery writers

 

but I've heard people say they're tired of her series because Kinsey hasn't changed a bit since book 1.

 

I don't feel that way myself because I love Kinsey and don't want her to change much, but it's a consideration with readers.

gail

Though there's a tendency towards serial books in the mystery genre, is there still good opportunity for the "stand alone" mystery?

Connie Shelton

Oh, I think so. Several writers I know are doing standalones. Steve Brewer is one who writes both.

 

Harlan Coben, whom I can say I knew him when... he's really broken out with his stand alone books.

Mary Rosenblum

I'm curious though...do you recall seeing many stand alones from first time authors? Or are these mostly works by established authors?

Connie Shelton

I'd say mostly established. That's true. Most editors are going to want to know what you're working on next.

 

If you have planned a series, it's easy to tell them, and easy for them to know what they can expect from that second book.

roe

So having your character get married hasn't hurt the series. Do you see children in it or not?

Connie Shelton

The marriage seemed to fit in well for Charlie. I've seen other series where it wasn't a smooth transition.

 

Children, hummm... There are pros and cons to that question and I might be giving away a

 

lot about my newest book if I give the full answer.

Mary Rosenblum

Aha...stay tuned!

 

And for those who came in late, what is the title of that one and when will it be out? :-)

Connie Shelton

Balloons Can Be Murder, available nationwide around November 1st.

 

It takes place at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, which is going on here this week

 

so we were able to get the publisher to ship books to Albuquerque early. That normally doesn't happen.

Mary Rosenblum

This probably answers the question Geezer has been patiently waiting for:

geezer

I'm curious. Why did your publisher choose New Mexico to release your book first?

Mary Rosenblum

That is very good of your publisher!

Connie Shelton

Yep, that's why!

Mary Rosenblum

You can find details about Connie's mysteries on her website:

 

Connie's Website

Connie Shelton

Yes, thanks for the little plug! Please visit....although I have to warn you that

 

I've had the devil of a time getting the newest updates to post, so the new book doesn't have many details about it yet.

writeaway

Could you ask for better publicity? Wow!

Mary Rosenblum

I have to say, you timed the release perfectly!

Connie Shelton

A funny story about good publicity.

 

Two journalists from my home town papers (Albuquerque) called this week and interviewed me.

 

I was amazed last Saturday to see that I made front page in the afternoon paper and

 

top of the second page in the morning paper. All my writer friends were calling and commenting on the free publicity.

 

I have to say, though, that it's the first time I've gotten anything like that kind of coverage.

 

Pays to be tied to a big media event like the balloon fiesta.

Mary Rosenblum

Perfect conjunction of your book, your local-writer status, and the event!

Connie Shelton

Sometimes the alignment of the planets is just right, I guess J

Mary Rosenblum

Indeed! And ain't it great when it happens!

Connie Shelton

Yes indeed!

info

Have you incorporated Charlie's hubby as a helper or is he standing back in the shadows and supporting her?

Connie Shelton

Oh, he's definitely right up front... In some books more than others.

 

(Excuse me, I'm trying to type with a cocker spaniel on my lap!). In fact, in the books,

 

Drake teaches Charlie how to fly helicopters (his profession) and they go on all these adventures together.

 

Funny story about that: My sister-in-law was reading one of the books in which Charlie does a lot of flying

 

and she actually asked me when I'd learned to fly! Yes, people do tie us to our characters!!!

 

And no...I've never flown helicopters myself.

Mary Rosenblum

Well that leads me rather neatly to my next question...when you have that sort of 'expert detail' in your story

 

how much research do you do in order to create that verisimilitude.

Connie Shelton

I have to admit that I get a lot of my expert detail at home. My hubby is a helicopter pilot

 

so he reads everything for correctness on the technical details. He's also a firearms expert, and worked with bombs in the Navy.

 

So, I have to admit that I have a built-in encyclopedia here. For other subjects, I usually try to find an expert

 

and have them read the pages that pertain to that part of the plot. Also, I live

 

in a very small town now, so it's easy to know everyone. A good friend is a former

 

homicide detective, a private investigator, and was our police chief for several years.

Mary Rosenblum

That helps a lot! Do you feel that 'getting the details right' is very important in mystery?

Connie Shelton

Yes, because, unfortunately, if you get it wrong, SOMEONE is going to tell you about it!

Mary Rosenblum

No kidding. :-)

Connie Shelton

I was reminded once (curtly) that I got a bit of Texas slang wrong.

 

Who’d a thought about that?

Mary Rosenblum

Where are your mysteries set? All in the same town, or has she traveled?

Connie Shelton

Charlie gets around. She's based in Albuquerque (my home town), but she's been all over

 

the state of New Mexico, into Arizona's Superstition mountains, to Scotland.

 

Now that one was fun to research!!

Mary Rosenblum

Did you travel to all these locales in order to research the details? (Scotland would indeed be fun!)

Connie Shelton

Yes, I did. And yes, Scotland WAS fun--we loved it.

 

As far as the other towns around NM, I've used some locations where I've been, and I've fictionalized towns, too.

 

Sometimes if things are a little too close to home (you know what I mean) you can make up a town to carry the scene.

redraven

Could you deduct all your expenses in Scotland?

Connie Shelton

Yep.

 

One of the nicest things about being a writer!

Mary Rosenblum

An accountant can help you with just what you can and cannot deduct.

Connie Shelton

And in case one of you is with the IRS,

 

I really did document everything and knew in advance that I would research locations

 

and situations that would lead to a credible story. It also probably helps that I have a track record

 

of being published and using locations in my stories.

roe

Is it okay to put things in real towns? Like I put a newspaper office in a town that I know doesn't have one. Or do you have to stay with what's factually there?

Connie Shelton

It's fiction--I take a lot of poetic license with things like that. I also put a newspaper in a town that I don't think has one.

 

Sometimes people will nit-pick you on things like that, but truly most people just want to read a good story.

codeblue

Have you ever lost your spark to write??

Connie Shelton

Once. About a year ago I questioned whether I wanted to sit down and crank out those 10 pages.

 

But starting a new project re-energized me. And I've found that getting together with other writers

 

is a big help, too. Every time I go to a conference or attend a mystery writers meeting, I come away with new energy. It really helps me.

speckledorf

10 pages? Is that your daily quota? What is a writing day like for you?

Connie Shelton

Usually I do about 10 a day, yes. I get up early and write while I'm freshest, while the ideas are flowing.

 

Some days that's 3 pages, some days it's 15. On the day my Long Ridge work arrives

 

I give that first priority, categorize the lessons, pull all your folders, get ready to work on them.

 

I'll usually stick with the LR work until I can get it finished, then back to my own stuff.

 

On a good day, I may get my ten pages done by early afternoon, then I usually edit something, do a newsletter for our local writers group, or just kick back and read.

 

Between LR and my own writing, it's full time work.

 

Of course, if we don't get outside and walk each day, life just isn't complete, so we do that, then have dinner.

Connie Shelton

I find that I MUST exercise after all that sitting!

Mary Rosenblum

Oh, no kidding!

roe

So you don't have an actual schedule where you set time aside each morning to write. Do you write everyday?

Connie Shelton

When I'm doing the first draft of a new book, I do write every day. It's the only way I can

 

keep my momentum up. I'll often write in the morning, edit in the afternoon.

 

This year has been broken up with a lot of travel, so that always messes me up on the writing schedule.

 

And as most of my students know, I always advise finishing the first draft in as smooth a flow as you can

 

then put it aside for a few days (for short stories) a few weeks for a book, then go back

 

and edit with a fresh eye.

codeblue

My ideas come at odd times-mostly when I'm busy...and you?

Connie Shelton

Oh yeah, and it's tough to keep them in mind. I have scraps of paper of all types.

 

I jot down the idea and stick it either near my computer, or in my IDEAS folder for later use.

Mary Rosenblum

Oh, I know that litter of ideas stuck here and there! J

gail

What ratio of your total reading is mystery?

Connie Shelton

I actually read a big variety. But I'd say probably at least 50% of it is mystery, and probably another 20% is suspense.

 

I also throw in the occasional chick-lit, literary novel, historical novel, etc. I don't read much

 

sci-fi or romance. But that's just my taste. My best advice to all writers is

 

read LOTS in your chosen genre. You really can't know what's going on in the field without doing that.

Mary Rosenblum

Let me squeeze in one last question from our audience here.

trainer

How much writing experience did you have before you got your series going?

Connie Shelton

I'd written the two generational sagas I mentioned earlier. And I'd done lots of non-fiction

 

articles, newsletters, company and business type stuff. I actually wrote two of the Charlie mysteries before the first one came out, too,

 

so that was good experience.

Mary Rosenblum

Connie, you have been a fount of information tonight, thank you so much!

 

Want to give our audience a bit of a blurb about the new book? Whet our appetites?

Connie Shelton

Thanks for having me here, and thanks to everyone who signed in and took part.

 

 

 

As I mentioned, it's called Balloons Can Be Murder. It's set at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.

 

The story is basically that a woman balloon pilot is being stalked and comes to Charlie for protection.

 

The lady pilot plans to set a world altitude record in her balloon (another of my real-life experiences)

 

and she's trying to make it through the fiesta unscathed. Charlie tries to track down the

 

most likely suspect, but many others start to appear, so she's got her hands full.

Mary Rosenblum

Balloons Can Be Murder at amazon.com

 

This is the amazon.com page...take a look at the great cover!

 

Very nice.

writeaway

You set a world altitude record in a balloon?

Connie Shelton

In my former life, yes I did. I've been writing for about 20 years, but there was a time when I was young and crazy.

 

So I do hold the Women's World Altitude Record for size AX-4 balloon. Even now, 25 years later it still holds.

writeaway

Wow! You sure have an interesting life.

Mary Rosenblum

Well, I could probably keep you here for another hour easily, and I hope you'll come back and join us again! You have been a wonderful guest. You can tell us all about being a balloon pilot, too!

 

I have really enjoyed our chat, Connie!

Connie Shelton

Thanks--I'd love it!

janp

Thank you, Connie, Mary, great forum

writeaway

You two ladies prove that Long Ridge has the most talented instructors. Thank you for an inspiring evening.

redraven

Thanks Connie and Mary -- great evening!!

roe

Great forum as usual. Thank you Connie and Mary

Mary Rosenblum

Thanks so much, Connie! I'll definitely email you about another visit! This has been a fun evening.

Connie Shelton

It has been fun, and I'd love to do it!

trainer

Thank you both! Great forum tonight!

codeblue

DITTO

Mary Rosenblum

And thank you all for coming tonight!

 

Good night all!

 

Return to Interview Transcripts


Home | Writing Course | Short Story | Full Story Writing Test 
 
Send Me Full Info | Enroll | Our Instructors | Our CredentialsSample Lesson 
College Credits | Tax Deductibility | From Overseas  | Writer's Bookstore  
Free Writer's News | Life Support for Writers | Chat Room  | Live Forum | Writing Craft
Calendar of Events | Professional Connection | Transcripts | Post a Note | Surviving & Thriving
 
Student Center | Privacy Policy | Web EditorComments | Writing for Children 

LongRidge Writers Group
91 Long Ridge Road, West Redding, Connecticut 06896
Telephone: 1-800-624-1476 ~ Fax: 203-792-8406
Email:
InformationService@LongRidgeWritersGroup.com

Copyright Writer's Institute, Inc., 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
No part of the electronic transmission to which this notice is appended may be reproduced or redistributed in any form or manner without the express written permission of Writer's Institute, Inc.