Art – New & Old

Art – New & Old

One of my first TV jobs was working as a field producer on an HGTV show called The Carol Duvall Show. It was a lovely show, in which Carol would demonstrate simple craft ideas anyone could make, and highlight working artists doing the kinds of things most of us only dream about making. It was my job to shoot the videos of these working artists. Because of that show, I met ceramicists, glass blowers, metal workers and doll makers. And I spent the equivalent of my salary on their work. Didn’t matter. I loved what they made and I was thrilled to have met the person who made it.

I’ve become an art junkie. Not the high end NY auction/gallery stuff or Art Basel art fair (I don’t happen to have an extra twelve million) but the street artist, local art fair junkie. It is my #1 souvenir when I travel – and I get to live with the memories of my trips every day. As I write this, I’m looking at a painting of a small boat I bought in Paris years ago for about $60. No one looking at the piece would know it was made by a shy Frenchman, or that I bought it on a freezing December morning in Montparnasse Park, but I know. I love the painting, but I also love the story behind it.

I love talking with artists and love having a story for each piece I buy. And I especially love that by buying from the person who made it, I’ve helped them continue to do what they love.

Everyone who buys my books helps me keep writing, so I like keeping the chain going, I guess. Thanks for that, by the way.

 

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Another day, another dead body

I took time off writing novels to focus on my day job these last couple of years. But I’m back now, with a new book off to my agent, and two more at the “almost done” phase to be completed this year.* It’s fun to be back writing regularly again, and it scares me a little how many ideas I have for new books popping up every day.

So someone asked me recently if my renewed writing schedule means I’m going to quit my job and write full time. My usual answer is, “Yes, when the Publisher’s Clearing House van pulls in front of my house,” (I may already be a winner. I have emails that say so.)

But there’s a reason beside money that keeps me working, and that’s the specifics of what I do. I’m a television producer in the true crime genre. I’ve worked on episodes of Forensic Files, After the First 48, Deadline Crime with Tamron Hall and many more. It is, at times, a very cool job. I’ve been to prisons, police stations, crime scenes, and forensic labs. I’ve talked to cops and prosecutors, victim’s families and convicted killers.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve also spent a lot of time sitting at a desk in front of my computer trying to write scripts, or answer questions from the lawyers who need to make sure that everything we say is accurate. Or sitting in an edit bay watching the same thirty seconds of footage again and again to make sure it works for the show.

My Kate Conway books are a reflection of what the work is like – but only to a point. I very rarely get targeted by people for the work I do. I’m assuming. At least no one has killed me so far.

And here’s what I’ve learned from real crime. It sucks. Families are destroyed on both sides, and often the person responsible doesn’t really care. He only cares about himself, his lack of great prison food, or the few visitors he’s getting. One man, who bashed his friend’s head in with a hammer, told me he hated prison because he was, “in here with murderers.” Um…

I’ve also learned that people who have lost their loved ones, or had loves ones kill, often do extraordinary things. They reach out to others who are going through the same thing, they push for new laws for stricter sentencing, for mental health funding or victim’s rights. They form organizations to help those in need. And mostly, they live and love and keep waking up every day to a world they know first hand is imperfect.

It’s fascinating to be invited into these people lives. And, even when the million dollar check arrives from Publisher’s Clearinghouse, I won’t quit TV. But after a few years away from writing novels, I also know that I can’t quit that either. So I’m glad to be coming back and I hope you will be too.

*News in the coming months about the specifics of all the new projects. I promise!

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Blog Hop

Catriona McPherson, author the Dandy Gilver series as well as two stand-alones, As She Left It and The Day She Died tagged me for this blog hop. I’ve been round this blog hop before…. which naturally I forgot…but I’m grateful to have so many friends who want to tag me, so here are my answers (again).

What are you working on?
I’ve got a bunch of things going at the same time. I’m finishing up a thriller, Hostage, which is my first stand alone. I’m doing a rewrite on Kate Conway #3, tentatively titled Clouds and Darkness. And I’m doing research on a new series. Plus…. I can’t tell you. But I think you’ll like it.

How does your work differ from others of its genre?
I have no idea. I think by virtue of being mine, my voice, it’s different than what some other writer might do. My books are very character oriented because I’m very interested in why people do what they do. And hopefully even in the saddest moments there’s humor.

Why do you write what you do?
I would say I write for money, but a quick look at my last royalty statement would make it clear that isn’t my motivation. The truth is that I’m my first audience, so I write what I want to read, what interests me. Someone reading my book might spend a few days reading it, but I have to spend months writing it. With all the other things competing for my attention it life, what I’m writing has to be a story that keeps me coming back for more.

How does you writing process work?
Each book is a little different for me. Some books are outlined in advance and I stick closely to it, others I literally start writing and have no idea where it’s going. Some books I’ve written in very short periods (10 weeks is my personal best) and others have taken a year. I have a day job with sometimes odd hours and lots of travel so I haven’t worked out a pattern for my writing schedule, and I think that translates to my writing process as well. Sometimes I wish I had a more structured day-to-day life, which would theoretically mean more routine in my writing process, but I have no idea when or if that will happen. Chaos has done okay by me so far, so I don’t mind.

That’s it. I’ll post my tags later in the week.

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Tag, you’re it!

We’ve been doing this blog hop thing, with mystery authors linking to other mystery authors in a not so veiled attempt to introduce our readers to other authors. Last week, Marcia Talley linked to me, and I’m linking to three friends, and fellow writers. They’ll all be blogging on December 26th but check out their websites in the meantime!

Julie Hyzy
Mollie Cox Bryan
Tony Perona

So here’s my answers to the blog hop question:

> What is the title of your next book?
The Double Wedding Ring, the 5th Someday Quilts Mystery
>
> Where did the idea come from for the book?
Since this is an on-going series, the ideas flow from the characters and what they were doing in the last book. In book #4, my main character Nell was in art school, in a serious relationship, and also watching with delight as her grandmother fell in love again after many years as a widow. In book 5 we find out where everybody goes from here. And why there’s a dead guy parked in front of the police chief’s house.
>
> What genre does your book fall under?
My Someday Quilts mysteries are cozies and I also write another series, The Kate Conway Mysteries, which are darker and more sarcastic – not cozies but not gory. I really don’t know how to classify them.
>
> Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Someone mentioned Reese Witherspoon for Kate Conway and I would be happy about that. She’s plays characters with kindness, people who are polite, but have bite. That’s a pretty good fit for Kate.

For Nell, I have no idea. She’s 27, fun, curious and romantic. I’m open to suggestions.
>
> What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
For The Double Wedding Ring – Murder before marriage…. and the parents are coming!
>
> Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
My books are published by Plume, a division of Penguin
>
> How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
How long to write or how long to procrastinate? I usually take about 12 weeks for a first draft then another 4 for rewrites before I send to my editor. But add lots of procrastination time on to this one (or to be fair, day job got the best of me and I had to scramble toward the end).
>
> Who or What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to continue Nell’s story. I love the characters and the town, Archers Rest. It’s quirky without being annoying and it’s a story that involves women in all stages of life becoming friends because of a common interest. I like exploring women’s friendships, which I do in an entirely different way, with the Kate stories – where she is oddly stuck with the mistress of her late husband as a kind of friend.
>
> What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
> My Someday Quilts Mysteries, no surprise, are about quilting. And I am a quilter so hopefully I get it right. My Kate Conway books are about television and I am a television producer so hopefully I get that right too.

Happy Holidays Everyone – be sure to check out Julie, Tony and Mollie!!

Clare

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Cross an item off your Christmas list!

Win all 4 Someday Quilts books!!

Cathedral Windows has been out for just over a week, so some of you may have had a chance to read it. If so, you’re ready for phase 2 in the Archers Rest Christmas Spectacular!!! (Okay, it’s not really spectacular, but it is, I hope, nice.)

I’m giving away a complete set of Someday Quilts books.. That’s all 4 currently available books – signed any way you would like. It would make the perfect Christmas gift for the quilter, or mystery lover in your life. Or just a perfect gift for yourself because you’ve been really good this year, haven’t you?

All you have to do to be eligible is read Cathedral Windows (available on kindle, Nook, downloadable to your PC or Mac, and anywhere else e-books are sold). Then answer this question:

Charlie, the 3rd grade teacher in Cathedral Windows, has been away from Archers Rest for a number of years. Where has he been?

Send your answer to my email address: clare@clareodonohue.com. DO NOT post it as a comment, because then everyone will know and you will reduce your chances of winning the books!

I will choose a winner on December 1 – so you have time to read the story (it’s only about 85 pages). I’ll then contact the winner to ask how they want their books signed, and the books will be taken by a special set of holiday reindeer (aka USPS) to your home well before Santa is set to arrive.

Sound fun?

Also feel free to post reviews on amazon, barnes and noble, goodreads…. Let’s spread the word about this happy tale of Christmas arson!!

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Contest Winners – and more contest news!!

Thanks to everyone who entered The Quilt Show/ Someday Quilts contest. The winners are:

Joanne Tinker, Campobello, NB

Jill Hicks, New Berlin IL

Sandy Bradfield, Valley Village CA

Terri Rexford, Kingsport, TN

Karen Vecchioli, Staunton, VA

I’ll also be having a Thanksgiving weekend give-away contest… news about that later. It may help you cross a name off your Christmas list (or get something for yourself). Tune in Wednesday for details!!!

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WIN A FREE DOWNLOAD

On November 13th, Cathedral Windows, my first e-story will be released. It’s a weird new experience for me and I’m excited.

It came about because the 5th Someday Quilts book won’t be released in September of 2013… which will probably be here in a flash, but it seems like a long time away at the moment. Since it’s the first time there’s been a gap of two years between books I decided to fill it with two e-stories. Cathedral Windows is the first.

To thank you for your patience and loyalty to the series, I’m offering two contests. I’m giving away 5 free downloads of Cathedral Windows… I’m doing this contest with The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson & Ricky Tims.

Members will get the download 48 hours before anyone else, so if you really, really want to read this, join. There are two memberships – free and paid. The free gets you access to the newsletter and lots of cool stuff, the paid gets you access to the show. And believe me, you’ll want to see the show! It’s my go-to site whenever I want anything quilt… info, tips, chats, and pretty quilts. Plus you get Alex and Ricky, a pretty great team if I do say so!

If you’re not a member of The Quilt Show, you can still win a download – but you will get it on release day!

Thanks!!
Clare

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July 5th

A lot of folks get all excited about the work our founding fathers did in the hot summer of 1776 (though not as hot as this one, I hope). We all celebrated it yesterday with hotdogs and fireworks and air conditioning … the way Ben Franklin intended. But it got me thinking, after all that hard work was accomplished and the Declaration of Independence was signed, what did the signers do the day after? Yes, I know The Revolution… but I’m talking about July 5th… Personally, I like to think they rewarded themselves with some delicious treat – a cold ale perhaps, or a nap. Or a few cold ales followed by a nap.

I happen to be thinking about this lately, as I get close to the deadline for Someday Quilts #5. It’s been a busy year day job wise, plus Life Without Parole came out and I joined the board of Mystery Writers of America Midwest. Lots of activities, deadlines, meetings, deadlines, deadlines….

Point is, come Sept 1, the book will be with my editor and the TV show I’m working on will be over. For the first time since 2008 I won’t have a book release this fall to prepare for, so I’m potentially looking at some free time. My Independence Day (at least for a while). So do I take a vacation, a nap, have an icecream….

Any ideas on how to celebrate the brief respite between deadlines that I will have come Sept. 1?

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My blog

Have you noticed that I haven’t written in a while? Me too. I’ve been busy. My day job heated up to the point of my working morning until night seven exhausting days a week, and something had to give. (First it was personal hygiene, then it was this…)

It has, however, been brought to my attention that I should have mentioned I just released a new book, LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE. The 2nd in the Kate Conway series. So. I’ve brought it to your attention. I could have linked it to amazon so you could just click and buy it, but I’m lazy and it always takes me a minute to figure out how to link, so I didn’t. But you’re clever. I trust you know how to go to amazon without my help.

I must confess that lately, when I should be working, I find myself daydreaming about somewhere, somehow in the not-too-distant future, having the time to stomp about thinking of my next book. To write and rewrite it without day jobs and deadlines and book sales concerns… along with leisurely brunches, passionate all day sex, glasses of wine by the pool, lying in bed early one morning in Marrakesh on a cool, white sheet listening to the call to prayer outside my window…

Sorry. Got carried away. Not once, I must admit, do I daydream about having more time to blog.

If you missed the tweets and Facebook and other places I’ve mentioned LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE, don’t feel bad. Personally, I think you’re probably busy too. You’ve got work, life, family, reading other authors… You probably shower more consistently than I have lately. (I work from home, which is my excuse.) It’s really hard to do everything, isn’t it? So – if I could, I’d give us both the gift of time. Beautiful, unscheduled time. What do you want to do with it?

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The Tao of Billy Joel

I’m sitting in a Starbucks waiting for a friend and taking the time to do some writing. While I’m writing, Billy Joel’s song Vienna comes on. It’s one of those old songs that’s used from time to time in movies because it pretty much sums up the reality of most of our lives vs. the wish…

Slow down you crazy child
You’re so ambitious for a juvenile
But then if you’re so smart tell me why
Are you still so afraid?
Where’s the fire, what’s the hurry about?
You better cool it off before you burn it out
You got so much to do and only
So many hours in a day

But you know that when the truth is told
That you can get what you want
Or you can just get old
You’re gonna kick off before you even get halfway through
When will you realize…Vienna waits for you

It goes on, but you get the idea. Sometimes I have trouble identifying the number one priority because everything is vying to be the number one priority. Sometimes my head is about to explode from trying to do everything at once, and if not perfectly, at least well. And my guess is the country is filled with about-to-explode heads. So today, I’m going to put down the “to do” list and go, at least in my imagination, to Vienna.

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