Technology – Works or Doesn’t Work?

I’ve been thinking a lot about technology recently as I prepare for the launch next February of A WEE HOMICIDE IN THE HOTEL, my third and final ScotShop mystery.  Why technology? I’m glad you asked.

When you’re talking about mysteries, there are so many different types. For instance, police and private eyes often depend heavily on technology, although logic is (or should be) a part of the solution as well.

But when you’re thinking about traditional mysteries or cozies, technology often takes a back seat to the amateur sleuth’s thought processes (or bumbling around). Poor Dirk, the 14th-century ghost in the ScotShop mysteries can’t use technology at all — he can’t even turn the pages of a book, but he sure can think. In WHITE AS ICE, which will be the 8th Biscuit McKee Mystery, the power goes out during the biggest ice storm of the century, and technology is at a standstill. A wood stove, a campfire percolator, cast iron skillets, and good old common sense save the day as twenty people gather in Biscuit and Bob’s old house. While the men play card games in the kitchen, the women explore the old treasures (and junk) in the attic. WHITE should be available in the summer of 2017. I have to finish writing it first!

I had a good lesson yesterday in the limits of technology, although it wasn’t a situation I can ever imagine using in one of my mysteries,

I’m a member of the Atlanta Branch of the National League of American Pen Women. The speaker for our December meeting cancelled rather unexpectedly, and one of our music members was asked to “put something together.” She called four other members, myself included, to see if we’d like to sing a bunch of holiday songs. Naturally, we had to rehearse ahead of time, so everyone gathered at my house. One member brought her keyboard, another her guitar, and all of us had warmed up our voices so we were ready.

When we got around to working on “Little Drummer Boy,” I pulled out my djembe so I could drum along.

Now I have to back up a bit.

Back in September, I spent a scary evening in the ER and the next day in the hospital, related to another scary situation that I wrote about on my Facebook author page. When my daughter called my son in California to let him know what had happened, he and his fiancee grabbed a plane and came for a visit. They stayed with me, cooked delicious vegan meals, dug a ditch in my front yard to divert the water spout to my new rain garden, and just generally brightened my week. As soon as they returned to California, they mailed me a FitBit so I could keep track of my heart rate and the number of steps I took each day (not very many yet, as the beta blocker I’m taking makes it hard for me to exert myself very much).

Each week, though, I’ve increased my daily steps goal, and most days I’ve managed to achieve it. When I reach the right number of steps, the FitBit vibrates on my wrist and flashes exclamation points at me.

Now, back to the djembe. (You can probably see where this is heading.) Halfway through Little Drummer Boy, my FitBit did its silent technological butt-wag. Hooray! You’ve reached your step goal for the day! You guessed it. Each time I struck the drum with my left hand, it had registered as a step.

The end result of this is that I have no idea whether or not I really met my goal for that day, since I hadn’t bothered to check how many steps I’d already taken before I began drumming.

I probably should have borrowed from Thoreau and called this post “Marching to a Different Drummer.”

What does this have to do with writing mysteries? Well, nothing much I suppose. Except to remind me that if Peggy Winn or Biscuit McKee decides to use technology to help solve a murder, she may have to be VERY careful with it. Come to think of it, I need to be careful myself.

Finally, if you’d like to attend the book launch for WEE HOMICIDE, plan on being at Eagle Eye Bookstore in Decatur GA next February 7th at 6:30 pm. Bring friends, too! Eagle Eye always provides yummy snacks, and all my books will be available. I’d love to autograph one for you. If you can’t make it that evening, Eagle Eye will be happy to pre-order a copy.

Finally #2: Sign up for my newsletter, and I’ll let you know as soon as WHITE AS ICE is available.