How come you’ve never heard of me before?

If you are a reader who has discovered me only recently, you may be wondering why the hell you have never heard of me before. The answer is pretty simple: there are many of us mid-list writers out there who do not get the kind of large-scale, national marketing campaigns that are needed to help an author and their books break out from all the many books in the marketplace today. We get buried in a mountain of new print releases, not to mention the avalanche of ebooks that come out virtually every single day. Many of us, like me, have been writing book since well before the advent of electronic platforms and we write as well, if not better, than the authors you see on the bestseller lists. In fact, our books can often be more original and surprising than those on the bestseller lists. How can that be true? … [Read more...]

To the barricades! (And don’t forget your paint brushes.)

When I was growing up, my parents would throw legendary parties in the Cameron Park neighborhood of Raleigh, inviting a combination of journalists, artists, writers, professors, and what was rather euphemistically called “free spirits.” I learned a lot lurking in the corners of those parties. But the only time they ever had to send out an actual invitation to their iconic New Year's Eve party was when they had to cancel it after 25 years because they had grown too old to keep up the shenanigans. That year, they sent out an invitation saying that the party would not take place and thanking their guests for years of debauchery. Each year at the end of April, my parents would also throw a Walpurgisnacht party, which was a low rent version of a black-and-white ball. People would arrive dressed in black and white clothing, packing into our sprawling Victorian house on Park Drive, drinking punch that steamed with the smoke of evaporating dry ice, shouting above the loud music, sweating, … [Read more...]

Ignoring the Truth

This past week, socked under by a killer virus that would not abate, I sought refuge in reading true crime in front of the fire. I do not read just any true crime book that hits the racks, mind you, and you should not either. A large percentage of them consist of breathless prose highlighting the more lurid aspects of a crime, much like the detective magazines of (not-so-) old. But I do read good true crime because of the amazing psychological insights into human behavior that thoughtful reporting on a case can provide. This means I primarily read (or re-read) Ann Rule, who, until her death last year, stood head and shoulders above all other true crime writers. I know of no one else who has even come close to Rule’s ability to illuminate the cause and effects of aberrant behavior, in part because times have changed. The need to rush a manuscript to market—and be the first to offer a book on a major crime already well-publicized by other media outlets—means that few publishers are … [Read more...]

The Great Debate

Let us go then, you and I, When the evening is spread out against the sky Like a patient etherized upon a table…. These opening lines from T.S. Eliot’s iconic poem, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, have sparked many a debate among literary fans: is it a beautiful metaphor for twilight’s stupor… or could it be a metaphor for life itself? As it turns out, it could very well be a metaphor for how T.S. Eliot felt when presented with a literary novel over one from his beloved detective genre. Yes, the undisputed arbitrator of literary genius was a huge detective fiction fan, a fact that the bastion of high brow writing, the New Yorker,revealed in this recent illuminating article. And not only was T.S. Eliot a devoted reader of the genre, he also wrote a number of anonymous reviews of detective novels and stories, defending the conventions of the genre with passion and advocating for some of its most notable authors in the time between the two great world wars. Where was T.S. … [Read more...]

Getting Our Group On

Don't miss the novel by members of the Thalia Press Authors Co-op called Beat Slay Love. It's a fun read because it combines the world of celebrity cooking with sex — and what could possibly be better than that? Order the book online now. There are so many cooking metaphors I could use to talk about the process of writing this novel, a journey that involved five separate authors, all with their own long list of previously published books: me, Thalia co-founder Lise McClendon, Taffy Cannon, Kate Flora, and Gary Phillips. Instead, though, I see the creation of this novel as a metaphor for the overall authors co-op we have forged here at Thalia. When we first got together to write the book — a process that began and then lived in the virtual world since we are scattered across America — we were not quite sure what we wanted to do. It was much the same way with our co-op. We knew that we wanted to share ideas, support each other, and cheer each other on. But beyond that: we just had to … [Read more...]

Character Counts Most of All

I went through a reading crisis this year. Every time I sat down to lose myself in a book, I found my attention wandering after just a few pages. I would check my iPhone for messages, stop by Facebook, and then force myself to sit back down and try again. It drove me nuts. Losing myself in a good book has always been my way of taking a needed break from the world. I attributed my problem to a shrinking attention span brought about by cursed social media. I decided anything more than four paragraphs was beyond my interest, thanks to new media, and bemoaned the loss of my ability to enter the pages of other worlds. Needless to say, this did not enhance my participation in my book club or endear me to friends with new books coming out. “Yes, I bought it and can’t wait to read it.” [“God, please don’t ask me how I liked it three months from now.”]   Thus I sealed my fate and kissed reading a full-length book good-bye. And then I picked up “Death Comes to Pemberley” by PD James. … [Read more...]

Join Me on April 23rd in Raleigh

If you are a reader or author interested in exploring the future of writing and/or celebrating local authors, please join me for a special event on Saturday, April 23: AUTHORS IN YOUR BACKYARD: A CELEBRATION OF LOCAL WRITERS Join 2016 Piedmont Laureate Katy Munger as she welcomes local authors in a celebration of writing talent. Katy will give a keynote talk on writing followed by author readings and a networking reception. If you're a local author and would like to attend, email library.cam@wakegovlibraries.com Saturday, April 23, 11am-1pm OR 3-5pm (2 sessions) Cameron Village Regional Library | 1930 Clark Avenue, Raleigh … [Read more...]

What kind of writer’s workshop would you attend?

I have been named the 2016 Piedmont Laureate and one of the responsibilities of that position is to conduct workshops for other writers in North Carolina. I’ll be doing just that in the months ahead as there are few things I love better than working with other writers and talking about writing. But with the world of writing in flux, and career trajectories no longer predictable, much less known, it’s time to look at exactly what these workshops should entail. I’d like your help with that. With that in mind, if you are a writer of any kind – fiction, non-fiction, short form or long – what kind of workshops centered around writing would you be most likely to attend? What would be most useful to you either personally or professionally? Is there a specific aspect about the craft of writing you would find most useful, or are you more interested in exploring outlets for your writing? While I do not conduct workshops on how to get published – that question is unanswerable at the … [Read more...]

Empaths and voyeurs and parrots… oh, my!

One clear advantage to getting older is that you care less and less about what other people think. That's why a blog post like this would have been unthinkable 10 years ago. But these days, I am perfectly happy to officially announce that decades of reading has led me to believe that all writers can be divided into three categories: empaths, voyeurs and parrots.  Knowing which type you are can help you better balance your books as a writer, and knowing which one you prefer can help you better choose your books as a reader. Let’s start with empaths. Being an empathy can be downright painful in real life — you are often buffeted about by other people's emotions and motivations. But it is a powerful advantage when you are a writer. The ability to instinctually feel what other people are going through, coupled with the inability to contain your sympathetic emotions, add richness to a writer's characterizations and give their scenes a level of genuineness that can distinguish a good book … [Read more...]

P.S…. I’m still here.

It seems impossible that it has been a year since I actually updated this blog. I’d be ashamed if I had time for it. But ain’t nobody got time for that. . It is once again my birthday, and I have once again used the occasion to examine how I spent the days in the year just past and how it would like to spend my life in the years ahead. Like every year that passes, this one came and went faster than the one before. I suppose it is an inevitable irony of getting older that time speeds up just as you begin to appreciate every minute you have. . I accomplished many things this year in an arena that means a lot to me (state level politics) and I had a blast otherwise. I made many new friends, tried to keep in touch with old ones and, most of all, truly treasure the time I had with my daughter (who grows more adult every day). F did very little writing over this past year, perhaps the least of my adult life. But the writing I did was good and it kept me in the game. My friends in … [Read more...]