Linda Cahill

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Psst...It's Almost New Year's Eve

Posted by [email protected] on December 29, 2016 at 5:35 PM Comments comments (0)

And I have a story about a guy who’s working late instead of partying. But there are funny noises all around. And his girlfriend isn’t answering his messages. Find out what happens next in Kings River Life my favourite California online magazine. Read my latest story here.

Escape from the Beach - excerpt from Villainous Vacations

Posted by [email protected] on August 23, 2016 at 6:50 PM Comments comments (0)

As the story begins my main character Bree is kicking back on a beautiful ocean beach. One minute she is happily sun bathing and the next she is running for her life as helicopter gunships strafe the sand…

 

“…All day long I slipped down the water slide. Slathered in sunscreen, eyes squinting against the tropical light, I was carried by jets of recirculating sea water to the hot sand below. Dazed and content, I flew down the slide in a line of other children. One after another, we fell into the sand then scrambled barefoot to the stairs going up, up and up again, at least three stories of red-painted aluminum steps to the platform. Waiting my turn near the top, I saw little boats sailing the salty waters of the Eastern Mediterranean, and sunlight glancing like stars off the waves. Then I looked down at our rented umbrella, one of dozens in view. I could see my baby sister Aylah sleeping in her carrier and my Mom lying on her side, one hand on the baby’s arm, one eye on her beach read and one eye on me. She waved her book at me. I waved back, then looked beyond her to the sea.

 

This part of the Mediterranean is often “black flag” − unsafe for swimmers. Today is a blue day, a safe day, but very few people were swimming past the marker buoys. Usually one of them would be my dad. Dad says the water is too rough for most of the Middle Easterners. He says it is because they are desert people. Almost all the younger kids are in bathing suits and many of their parents are, too. Here and there are groups of adults where the women wear dresses to their ankles. There are also some men in long sleeved shirts and long black pants. Three of them are at the shore. One of them is drinking cola. Another has a magazine under his arm. My parents thought me safer on the slide than in Herzikiah Beach’s forceful seas and undertow. And that was true until the loudspeakers boomed, helicopters flew in formation overhead and the slide gate slammed shut behind me. The teenage guard flopped to the platform. “Get down,” he shouted in Hebrew. He waved his arm down and I dropped to the floor. The two of us lay eye to eye as helicopters pounded overhead so close I could see the guns sticking out the open doors and a pilot waved to me as he flew by.

 

Loudspeakers boomed from lamp-posts, scratchy and tinny with excited voices. Without raising my head I risked a sideways look. The strip of beach I could see below me was emptying. Police materialized out of nowhere. Anxious parents stuffed their feet into sandals, threw on shirts and cover-ups. The officers grabbed parents and kids, pushing them toward the parking lots. Parents shrieked for their children and everyone was running − kids with sand pails, babies caught up in their parents’ arms, older kids in packs.

 

In seconds, the crowd had seized blankets, picnic baskets, beach chairs and small children and raced for their cars. Fascinated and frightened at the same time, I followed the helicopters thundering back and forth overhead, until the boy opposite squirmed closer and shouted again, “It’s no problem!” I nodded because it was one of the few phrases of Hebrew that I knew.

 

Taking in my thick blond hair, and the long white T shirt I wore over my bathing suit, the guard grinned and repeated it in English. “It’s no problem. They’re chasing terrorists!”…

 

Want to read more? Come see us Sunday, September 25, 2016 at Word on the Street http://thewordonthestreet.ca/toronto/ There will be books and goodies available.

The Cave or the Garden

Posted by [email protected] on July 28, 2013 at 10:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Everyone jokes about the Man Cave, that special place with the bar, the big screen TV, the comfy couch and maybe a basement fireplace. Hmm. But what if the cozy cave is a necessity for everyone including the authors of our new Nefarious North collection? I used to wonder why some homes are so much more appealing than others. It isn’t strictly about beautiful things, spacious rooms or all the electronic toys. I think it is actually an ancient need, a need our ancestors had also, a safe, cozy place, preferably with firelight – a cave.

If a home has a welcoming place to cocoon and recharge in we respond to it and like it. But we also need something else: a spot with airy access to the outdoors where the sun shines warm on your face and maybe a stream gurgles nearby providing life giving water. Like our ancestors, we need a garden or green space nearby to stimulate our senses with colour, sweet smells, and the music of birds singing. I was thinking about this Cave and Garden dichotomy when we got word that Nefarious North, our collection of short mystery stories is about to land. Maybe a preference of one kind of space or another influences our creativity too. So which do you need to stimulate your creative juices, the cave or the garden?

Creating the Plot

Posted by [email protected] on June 11, 2013 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Writers are always asked where we get our plots. Ian Rankin, Inspector Rebus’s creator keeps an idea file of intriguing bits of conversation, news stories or even lines from a song to trigger his next novel. ‘Bird by Bird’ author Anne Lamott says you should write the truest sentence you can and go from there.

 

I used to struggle with plot too. Then I went back to what worked for me. As a young reporter in Montreal I spent my days hobnobbing with cops and cabinet ministers, political activists and strikers. Editors demanded short, punchy descriptions, lots of quotes and what I can only describe as feeling in every story we wrote. Writing on deadline forged my style. But the ‘feeling’ came from empathizing with the characters or their opponents and victims. The characters were what they did. To put it another way the characters framed my news stories by their behaviour.

 

When it came to writing fiction I decided to listen to my characters. They have some overtones of those cops and robbers, lawyers and politicians I used to know. But the stories we make together are different.

 

First I find a memory or a picture or an idea that jogs me into creating a character and setting him or her in an environment where they can be themselves to do what they want. And they take off from there. That’s what I did for the two stories in this Nefarious North anthology. The priest in ‘The Warning’ is like no priest I ever knew. But his indecisiveness, his inability to make his yes, yes and his no, no is something many people can identify with. I set him in northern cottage country as a salute to Nefarious North and because it’s natural beauty and easy way of life seduced him. At first glance the characters in ‘The Three Graces’ may seem different from you and me. But frustrating their natural, human feelings precipitates the tragic consequences in this story.

 

My characters are bigger and meaner than ordinary people but some of them are also braver and they learn from their mistakes. Once I get the ‘feeling’ right for the character then I’m on my way with the plot.

Jill Edmondson

Posted by [email protected] on November 5, 2011 at 10:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Jill Edmondson really knows how to throw a party. Her book launch Thursday night at the Pilot tavern featured yummie food, a toast with some great liqueur and the highlight, she read from the 3rd Sasha Jackson mystery: "The Lies Have It" a tale of fetishists and murder. Well done Jill!

Stuart MacBride's New Book

Posted by [email protected] on November 1, 2011 at 10:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Stuart MacBride is another in the current crop of witty, gritty Scottish writers that have taken the mystery world by storm. Last week, HarperCollins Canada put on a super event with Mr. MacBride who is on a tour. Guests were seated seminar style in a large room with huge windows and Mr. MacBride was in the front like a lecturer. Cake was served and an amusing cardboard cutout mask of a Stewart McBride-like beard sat at each place. The publishers generously provided a proof copy of Mr. MacBride’s next book Birthdays for the Dead and bags of Halloween candy. The author himself is delightful. High forehead, glasses, dark ponytail, he was six feet of cheerful charm, fast talking and funny. Thrilled to get an advance copy of a talented author’s new work, I dove into Birthdays for the Dead as soon as I got home. It’s about a somewhat washed-up police investigator on the track of a serial killer with a taste for 12 year old girls. MacBride has a gift for the telling detail, the feel of a cold foggy night, the smells of a dirty slum, the sound of a lowlife bar. The amusing side he showed in his chats and his personalized book signing, surfaces frequently in the book, especially in the detective Ash Henderson's relationship with the loopy young police psychologist Dr. Alice McDonald. It provides welcome comic relief, an antidote to the noirish, gruesome detail of his blackly comic vision of contemporary Aberdeen and environs.

That Special Scene

Posted by [email protected] on October 4, 2011 at 10:05 PM Comments comments (0)

A famous screenwriter and director is quoted in John Brady’s The Craft of the Screenwriter saying that at heart of any movie is a single scene, a scene that is the reason for the whole story. Maybe I watch too many movies but still…do you have a favourite novel? A book where the climax is that one revealing, crucial scene, a scene that resonates, reverberates with the author’s intent? Scenes without which there is no story, no meaning, no reason to read any further? What are they? What makes them compelling? I think it was Paul Schrader, who wrote Taxi Driver, who said the above but it may have been Robert Towne who wrote Chinatown. Anyway, screenwriters have to reveal character, push the plot forward with very spare dialogue. Not much back-story allowed. As I drive to the finale of my current novel I find myself almost longing for the discipline of screenwriting some days. I must be looking for that extra special scene. Posted by Linda Cahill at 07:05

SO LONG STARVING ARTIST: PART 1

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 Digital Media Strategist Jane Friedman


Writers love what they do. But when it comes to making a living, how can they get paid?

 

Digital marketing expert Jane Friedman addressed this head-on in a fascinating talk Nov. 12 with the Toronto Romance Writers.

 

Friedman used examples from history and her own career to tackle the ‘starving artist’ myth from a refreshingly informed perspective. She quoted Alan Watts saying ‘A myth helps us make sense of the world.’ Writers need a new ‘myth’ to govern their careers.

 

For too long creatives have been sandbagged with the expectation that musicians, writers, painters and other creatives should be grateful they have talent and willing to display it for free. Friedman prefers her own myth. Art and Business can live together. The trick is using the tools available and analyzing all the factors that help people to find and want your work.

 

Traditional publishers may be losing market share but there is opportunity for self-publishers and small publishers. Since major publishers as well as other creative talents all use the web, what should small publishers or self-publishers do to stand out?

 

Distribution versus Discoverability

 

Friedman notes that big information companies Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook, are dukeing it out for dominance. The biggies have a lot of reach. Authors must harness the information these four have on each of us in order to be ‘discoverable.’ Distribution has been solved. Everyone has access to the internet. Now the important thing is discoverability.

 

Savvy small publishers or self-publishers can learn how to control what she calls ‘distribution amplification’ in order to be discoverable.

 

1. Use your web site to its fullest capacity

 

For example, when someone googles you they should get your web site first not someone with a similar name. They should see a one hundred word description that you craft about you. Your site platform can allow you to craft that description for your main page making it easier to get your message across. You can also have separate pages for each book release and use different hundred word descriptions for each of them. These can increase your reach and help drive readers to your site.

 

2. Re-purpose content for multiple channels

 

To be visible, authors should be present on different social media sites, email, blog sites etc. How to do that and not go crazy? Re-use your content, versions of the same material can be on a tweet, a Facebook post and audio podcast, a webinar, a blog tour. Bonus: You reach different audiences while reinforcing your own messaging.

NEXT: So Long Starving Artist – Part 2. Why authors should talk about money.


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