Tales of Alice Town – and Braselton

My friend Steven Macon started a project called Tales of Alice Town, for which he invited a wide range of writers to submit stories about a fictional county in Virginia (one for which Steven set up basic parameters such as the names of towns, their population, and some key characters who live in those towns).

One of the rules was that if we added a character, other writers in the group could include that character in their own stories, but they had to remain true to the personality of that character as put forth by the original writer.

Great! So today, my story Ekkal Rorrim was posted as the second in the series. You might want to scroll down and read the first story (October 1st) just to get a feel for what a magical place Davis County is.

I have a few more stories floating around in my brain. Just need to get them written down. Maybe I’ll even be inspired to post some more here on my website (I know, I know; I’ve been way too lax about that).

In the meantime, I’ll be headed to Braselton Gallery tomorrow from 1:00 to 3:00 to join seven other authors in a Local Authors Extravaganza. If you’re in the area, stop by and pick up some great books. You’ll be able to spot me easily — I’ll be the one in the Scottish arisaidh, talking about A WEE MURDER IN MY SHOP.

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Hank and I

Hank Phillippi Ryan was teaching at the Mystery Writers of America University in Atlanta last week, and she stopped by Eagle Eye Books in Decatur to sign copies of her newest thriller TRUTH BE TOLD. Naturally, I was there (as were other members of the Atlanta Chapter of Sisters in Crime) to buy a hardcover copy and get it signed.

at Eagle Eye Books, Decatur GA
at Eagle Eye Books, Decatur GA

Besides telling us where the name Hank came from (nickname from her college years), Hank talked about how her work as an investigative reporter is a fantastic source of leads for story ideas.

“Where do you get your ideas?” That’s one of the most frequently-asked questions a writer hears. And it’s a great question, because where we get our ideas feeds directly into the stories we create from those ideas.

A hundred people can see one event – but it’s usually only the writer who will ask “what if…”

What if this happened? What if that happened? What if a man walked down this street instead of that one? What if a woman chose to leave for work earlier than usual (or later)?What if the fire had started in the garage rather than the bedroom? What if someone buying a new car found a body in the trunk?

Hank made me think about how I generate my story ideas.

Just as Hank asked what if there’s a dead body in that house where the eviction is happening, I had to ask, years ago, what if there’s a dead body in the library?

With that question in mind, I began to write ORANGE AS MARMALADE.

Why did I create Martinsville GA as the scene of my Biscuit McKee mysteries? And why will Hamelin VT appear as the scene of my new ScotShop series next March? Those two small towns come directly from the fact that I grew up as an Air Force brat. Four different schools in 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grades.

Still, there was one constant, in every place we lived – Germany, Ohio, Illinois, Colorado, South Carolina, Tennessee . . . a library. I must admit, I never did find a body behind the stacks, but Martinsville is the home town I always wanted, but never had – a feeling shared by many service families.

So, where does Hamelin come in? Well, there’s another question I had to think about: what if somebody bought a shawl in Scotland, and it had a ghost attached to it?

Now there’s a question to start off a book right!