Estelle is alive and well - or is she?
In my opinion, fear is the most powerful emotion, It is even more powerful than love, I think. Face it, fear is the unknown. We all depend on some sort of familiarity to get us through, but with fear, you have to wing it. I don't even know if bravery is a factor when it comes to facing fears-or if strength has something to do with it. But fear is a great motivator and often it leads to bad choices. Perhaps this is where values come into play.
This is the seventh book in the Murder by the Sea series. Estelle is alive and well - or is she?
This is the 4th book in the Murder by the Sea series by Carol Ann Ross. She's on the run! Estelle has reinvented herself yet again and has brought along a new friend. She seems to make friends easily, but they don't last very long. What a bad mermaid!!
Developing a character like Estelle was at times difficult. Trying to show how her mind worked and what the impetuses were for her actions, led me, as a writer, down rabbit holes. Thankfully I have go-to people, like cops and psychologists to help out in these areas. I'm always learning something.
Writing a story takes self discipline, a good imagination and a realization that the most important part of the book is the reader. Everything has to make sense to the reader. I try to do this by drawing from life, making it as real as possible. Even if the story is a fantasy, the basic actions and reactions of the characters must be relatable.
When I was writing THE MERMAID DID IT there was no Covid. Life was normal, at times a little boring. But the last year or so has seemed upside down or just wrong-like we are living in Bizarro World.. We've been shaken up and getting back to normal, even if it is mundane, would be so very wonderful. Perhaps sometimes we don't appreciate what we have.
The Mermaid Did It is one of my favorite books in the series. I had the opportunity to talk with an actual Weeki Wachee mermaid and the chance to delve into one of my favorite genres- mythology. I always learn something when I write-not just basic info, but new things about people and always myself.
As with most authors, my characters are composites of the people I meet. But sometimes an event, though small and insignificant it may seem at the time, is just perfect. The image stays with you until it is ready to be used. This excerpt was written just as I remembered.. While at Weeki Wachiee several years ago, I was walking behind a young couple and I could hear them talking. I thought it was a lovely scene and when writing THE MERMAID DID IT, the scene came back to be. Writers need not be sitting behind a desk when working-the wheels are always turning.
We use words for communication. Sometimes we use the wrong ones, sometimes we take things for granted and use none at all. That happens a lot in relationships Evidently in the Weldon family it happened. .
When I write, I want the reader to SEE the setting or the characters. I've been to places like the one described in the excerpt and so pulling it from my memory was fairly easy.
As with all my books, I do a lot of research. In this book, since mermaids were part of the story, I delved into mythology to find names and I also spoke to one of the women who work at Weeki Wachee in Florida where the mermaids live. .There is much to be learned from these daring ladies and I found a new respect for their chosen profession.
Just how romantic are men? Poor things really are from Mars, it seems. In this excerpt, Don has asked Carrie to marry him. She hasn't given him an answer yet. Obviously, what he finds romantic, she finds annoying.
She's everywhere, yet nowhere. Estelle has always been good at disguising herself.
Always a loner, always determined to follow her dreams, Paula finally gets the approval she has craved from her father. It's a turning point.
Things are quiet on Topsail and they have been for a while. All hell is about to burst through, though. And guess who is at the center of it all.
Sometimes a things can stare you straight in the face and you don't see it. Don and Carrie are in for a surprise of a life time, if they can figure it out.
Book 2 in the Murder by the Sea series by Carol Ann Ross.The quiet North Carolina barrier Island town of Surf City is used to sudden thunderstorms cropping up from time to time but when lightening of a more sinister nature strikes twice in succession, the local police detectives realize it taking a few unexpected twists and turns.Meanwhile, the bridge tender keeps a watchful eye on everything.
I know of what E.J. speaks. I hate cell phones too. I'm not real fond of technology, so when I write the character E.J., I know exactly how she feels. She's fairly easy to write. But what about those characters whose lives I am not familiar with? Do I just make it up as I go or do I explore other options? Research, research, research. A writer does lots of research. Some use idealized reality-they take a stab at what they think should happen. no, writing is not easy, it's fulfilling, but not easy.
The title of a book usually comes first for me. It's probably the most important thing about a book since it has to capture or suggest at least, what the book is about. Once I get a title, I know there is a story and it may not be complete in my head, but the "feel" for it is there.
Describing someone so that the reader can actually see them, that's the trick. I've seen and met thousands of people, a handful have impressed me-not all in a good way. As I write I see them in my mind's eye and they appear all over again. It reminds me to behave myself, someone may be watching. :)
99% of the time the title and cover of the book comes first-at least it does for me. I see it in my head and the story blossoms from there. Of course, since Bridge Tender is part of a series, other story lines are entwined - it's a fun process.
Have you ever had a run-in with someone and only after it was over did you think of what you should have said or did? Well, that's another thing that is fun about being an author-authors get to create scenarios where they say the right thing at the right time.
We all face tough times, no one escapes them. THE COVID THING, as I like to call it, has certainly placed strain and hardship on mostly everyone I know, I have certainly not been immune to this COVID THING. But I have found so much solace in writing and developing story lines, building scenarios and characters-these take me to a different world, to a sort of high-and I believe, just like the characters in my excerpt, that bad things are subjective. As a writer, everything is fodder so I try to see past the negative, to a more positive place. I guess you call that place hope. I've found through writing that HOPE is a real place and that with it, you can make it. .
Then there's the moment when you wish you hadn't have done a thing, but it is too late and you have to live with the consequences. My character Hank, has had a difficult time living with his guilt. He can't shake it and it has manifested into something all together different from what it was in the beginning. .
You always hear, write what you know and yes, I agree. But writing is more than sitting in front of a computer all day and spewing your personal knowledge.. I was fortunate enough to grow up on one of the little islands of North Carolina and the scene I wrote for this excerpt is etched in my memory. It is something I have seen every day of my life. But I don't know everything and so I do lots of research. I have many "go to" people who have been there and done that, people who make my life look boring. Picking their brain, learning their terminology and sometimes getting to partake in a bit of their lives is not only exciting but so very fulfilling.. .
One of the most challenging, yet most rewarding things about being a writer is developing characters. I like all of my characters, and have come to know them well over the time I've been writing about them. I understand why they are the way they are and just like you and me, they are not perfect. Personally I like conflicted characters, people who struggle with everyday life just like you and I do. Characters have to be true to themselves, they have to be consistent in their behavior. Even if that behavior is bad. Because of this, I have found that despite my preconceived storyline, my characters will do what they want. They will carry the story, often times in a totally different direction. It is so cool!
Creating a character can be a challenge. Every Character is an individual and has traits that make them unique. Staying true to those traits can be difficult but I always found it enjoyable because I came to truly like my characters, even the bad ones. I've known Hanks, Estelles, Carries-we all have. In this excerpt, I was just introducing my character Lev into the series. He's good lucking, confident-maybe a little too confident, and he's a womanizer, but his charm wins him the day.
We've all known people like this, blinded by their own light. They'd be a comedy act if Don wasn't looking for a killer.
Hank's memory is somewhat blurred. Was he responsible for his wife's death or not. Regardless, he will always feel remorse for that day.
The first book in the Murder by the Sea series by Carol Ann Ross There are three communities on Topsail Island - Surf City, Topsail Beach, North Topsail Beach. Residents of all three enjoy a low key, laid back lifestyle most months of the year. Folks stop and chat for a few minutes at the grocery store romantic souls stroll leisurely along the beach, searching for sand dollars and shark's teeth. Many relax by fishing and boating in the calm coastal waters. Yes, life is easy. But when summer arrives and vacationers flock to the Island, things change. The pace quickens as the population quadruples. Smells of suntan lotion and outdoor barbeques permeate the air. A constant ripple of wakes made by boaters fills the waterways and beaches become crowded with sunbathers and surfers frolicking in the Atlantic. There is no doubt that tourist season is a far cry from the easygoing off-season months. To most, it is a time for fun in the sun on Topsail Island. But for a few, it's just plain old murder.
Some people are real go getters, others are about as productive as a sponge. That's Buck Butler, concerned with the simpler things in life and what pleasures him in the simplest ways. Buck is fun to write, so is his cousin Morgan. They are characters out of the norm with quirks and peculiar dispositions. .
Dogs are a big part of my life and most of the people I know, so I often include them in my stories. And it doesn't matter whether it's the good guy or the bad guy, the relationship between a dog and its owner always brings out the kinder side of the character and makes them more human, more likeable.
Some people are real go getters, others have to be motivated by something to get them to act. In this excerpt Carrie's impetus for change is a lifestyle that doesn't suit her. She wants more out of life. Does she find more? Was it worth it?
As a writer, I find myself being more observant than I realize-gathering images and experiences that sit in my heart and head waiting to be used. One experience remains with me though many years have passed, It was a trip I took to Scotland. Being the curious cat that I am, I ventured out beyond Edinburgh to a small village on the Firth of Forth. As I wrote (WATERLOGGED) I drew from this experience. The more I wrote, the more I remembered - the writing journey was wonderful! It's amazing what the mind tucks away..
We may not look like it, but writers are constantly observing, taking note of everyone and everything. Sounds kinda creepy, doesn't it, but that's just the way it is with writers-everything is fodder for our profession. This excerpt is something I observed not once, but many times. And there is so much more-the rise of an eyebrow, the turn of a head, the way a father reaches out to his child-all these things are permanent pictures in my head and I use them constantly. Thank you strangers for your gifts.
I have spent most of my life living on a Southern barrier island. Of course, the summers are much different than the rest of the year, after all, it is tourist season and the town bustles like crazy.-the population quadruples.as the locals take refuge from the blast of "oh, the beach!" mentality. .. It's a different world for three months. There are always new faces, always new attitudes, new ideas, plus crazy drivers who think they are the ones driving correctly-litterbugs, rude people, and the list goes on. So Memorial Day, the gateway to Summertime, has always offered me, as a writer, a whole world of DIFFERENT and a plethora of characters..
Ye gads! Sakes alive, and oh my goodness! The fishing pier is alive and it's caught something! I've been around fishing piers my whole life and yes, sometimes they do seem to have a life of their own. Just check out all the lines, nets, sinkers, dead sea critters and assorted paraphernalia attached to the pilings and boards. They tell a story. I guess it depends on what mood one is in as to which way the story goes..
If you've ever lived in a tourist town you understand the love/hate relationship locals have with those visiting their area. In the south, most of our year is calm and peaceful-spring is delicious so we southerners savor that time, aware that shortly all hell will break loose. In the case of my little books, all murder breaks out.
This excerpt is from the intro to Waterlogged. Most of my novels begin with an introduction that sets the tone of the story. In that beginning part, I introduce the protagonist or antagonist and the "deed." As I think back and wonder why I use this format, I've come to realize that this was what the television show Columbo used. What a great influence. Creating the first character, Phil, was not too difficult as I reached back into my own teenage years to find young teens who were pretty self absorbed and full of themselves. On the brink of adulthood, they're interested in two things, sex and and how to impress others. They're also hell bent on defying their parents-in short, they are coming into their own. Often, when reality hits them in the face, all that bravado disappears.
I've meet some real characters in my life time and getting to use my experiences with them is beyond fun. Sarah, as you can read, is no fool or at least she isn't one for very long. Don, on the other hand, is young, dumb and full of you know what. His youth sort of gives him a pass, however. The rest of Waterlogged will reveal just how conflicted our characters are and why. .
As you see, Reggie is not the nicest guy in the world. He's intimidating and has justified his illegal actions by stating that he believes drugs should be legalized. But that's what most bad guys do. They sleep just fine at night because they don't believe they are doing anything wrong. Maybe that is why it's so hard to catch the bastards, you have to think like them.
Paula is aloof, some might say too cool. Maybe she is simply so insecure that she is compelled to keep her distance.
A teenager, more interested in the scenary of the beach than the fishing pole in his hand, is about to have the catch of a lifetime.
Fishing isn't just about catching fish. It's about respite from a hard day, about checking out the scenery, about relaxing. Phil isn't doing any of this, his catch is of a more sinister nature.
Too eager for love and romance, Carrie had rushed into something she wasn't ready for. Surprise, surprise!
Topsail is normally a peaceful town. Then suddenly a body shows up---then another. Detective Belkin, new on the police force, suspects everybody, even the local duffus.
Topsail Island is a tourist destination-slow and easy going in the off season. Locals settle into that laid back way of life-they become family. But in the summer, the tourist season, things change. The pace is faster, that ease of familiarity changes and things are simply MURDER.
Third Book in the Murder by the Sea series. .A rose sunrise, an azure sea at twilight, a lazy day fishing. It sounds like paradise. But just because Carrie lives on an island where life's pace is a little slower, doesn't mean that the age old struggles between right and wrong or good an bad don't exist. Sometimes the lines are blurred. Sometimes things are justified. But sometimes the evil is so blatant it can't be ignored
Writing Estelle was not easy and I meet often with a psychologist friend of mine to make sure she was on track. In this excerpt, she is really pissed. How dare someone not consult her when making decisions. I guess we've all known people like that, but Estelle takes it to another level.
Many years ago I worked on a commercial fishing boat. I spent whole days on the ocean and loved every minute of it. Of course, there were days when the ocean was horrifically rough and to me, scary, but the experience proved to be excellent fodder for future novels. I don't think I have written a book that does not in some way relate to that experience. I guess you could say that I've come to understand that everything is fodder. . .
One of my most interesting characters is Lev. Many of my readers have commented on how much they like him. So, what makes Lev, or any other character interesting? Body language, reaction, inaction, and omission of not just truth but body language, reaction, inaction, etc., is what builds a character and thus, I think, makes him interesting. I like to "watch" my characters and how they interact with other characters. Often I laugh along with them or cry or get angry. It all makes for a lot of fun when creating that type of character.
I try to use everything. That is, even things I don't like. For instance, the character in this excerpt has always annoyed me. I guess that is why it has been easy for me to write her with such disdain. Thus, when writing Estelle, I always feel a darkness hovering over me-it can be a distraction-and working through it has been a challenge. What makes writing The Murder by the Sea series a joy is the other characters. They are every man/woman to me. They plow through life searching for the good, fighting for some sense of reason, and in the process enriching themselves. .
For me writing isn't about the spectacular or the sensational. The ordinary man or woman is who I find interesting, and ordinary people are everywhere. Digging a little deeper I find the cool stuff, the hardships that have shaped them, the trials and joys that have forged their personalities. These are the things that make my characters interesting-at least that is what I strive for.
Many years ago I worked on a commercial fishing boat, It was a great experience. Now I draw from that experience. The memory takes me back to younger days when I could spend hours in the sun and work like a dog. I look back on those days with affection and wish I had the stamina to do it all again. Alas, now I only get to write about it. But that is one of the fun parts about being a writer, I get to relive my life, even embellish a bit. Ahh, the good life.
One of the great things about being an author, is getting to design your characters however you please. My character Don is a composite of several people I have known, and though it has been years since I've seen or spoken to those people, I get to keep them alive through print. I like to think I have written them a little better in some places and with just enough rough edges to make them more interesting.
Yes sir, my characters are composites of the people I meet. There are all kinds of people out there and listening to them, watching th, learning from then is one of the highlights of my life. Getting to put them down on paper is the best.
No character is all good or all bad. Characters are people who act and react as people do, they are, on occasion, going to make the wrong choices. I loved writing Don, he is so conflicted and so often does the wrong thing. How he contends with those choices define him. He wants good things in his life, but is drawn by basic urges that lead him to the dark side.
He's conflicted, doesn't know which way to go. But one thing is for certain, Don has her on his mind. Her fingers have grasped onto his soul and won't let go. Damn his weakness, He knows as soon as he has her, and he will, that he will hate himself.
Estelle had come from less than nothing and now her chance to be something more had come. She liked the feeling, reveled in it. Yes, she deserved everything she got.
Is she really a bad seed or is there a reason. If there is, does it justify her actions.
In BRIDGE TENDER we find Estelle Bottoms on a rampage to get what she deems is hers. If you have not seen bubbles from Bridge Tender, please check it out. It is an integral part of the continuing Murder by the Sea series. In book 3, Estelle continues that rampage and the reader gets a better insight into what has shaped her life.
Emily didn't stand a chance, not a chance in this world. Too loving, too caring, too innocent to understand that it doesn't matter how good you are, there are those who will endeavor to destroy that goodness.
The character Estelle is one sick puppy. She is going to have what she wants regardless of the consequences Does it matter that she had an abusive childhood?.
This is the 5th book in the Murder by the Sea series by Carol Ann Ross. The crew is vacationing at E.J.'s cottage near New Bern, It's supposed to be a respite from the hell Estelle has been putting them through for the past few years, But bad "juju" is in the air , a new love interest is there also, he's very good looking very charming, and very selfish. .
I meet all kinds of people. Some are so "out there' that they beg to be written about. Morgan Simpers is such a guy. He is for certain, my most fun character of all and of course, a composite of the many characters I have known or observed. A simple man, he often does not think things through, but he's right about flounder, it sure tastes good.
August Temple is another of my favorite characters. He is a simple man-by simple I don't mean stupid, I mean he desires things, places and people who are not pretentious. He loves the hard work of making his living on the ocean and most importantly he is honest- to himself. His wife on the other hand......
It might be easier to look up info about various things on the computer, like Yucca plants, but I prefer driving to the local nursery and talking to the man who gets his hands dirty. Most of these guys who work with plants, love their job and it shows on their faces and in the way they describe things. It's like getting two for the price of one. I get the info and a little insight into a personality.
My favorite character from the Murder by the Sea series is none other than Morgan Simpers. He's a nobody, a loser who rarely works and who loves fishing more than life. He smokes too much pot, he day dreams constantly, and he wouldn't hurt a fly-even if the fly was crawling all over his food. I know, I know, these are not great reasons for liking a character. But Morgan is pliable, he can be there for anything-be the scapegoat, the intruder, the patsy, a suspect, just about anything I need him to be. We all know someone like Morgan, a ne'er do well, but hard to dislike and that's what makes him a joy to write.
Every time I write a book, I get to relive the time spent on the ocean when I worked on my father's fishing boat. It was the best and I wouldn't trade it for the world. But I don't know everything and so when I need expertise, I hunt down the real thing-the guy who goes out into the ocean and busts his buns. I am in awe of people who make a living on the ocean. It is dangerous, scary, exciting, awe inspiring and Godly-not to mention physically demanding. Because I used to 'go down to the sea in ships,' I carry all those experiences with me, and it makes me glad I'm a writer.
It is Spring. I love Spring. All the pretty little flowers are blooming, the bees are buzzing and I think I see more smiles on the faces of strangers. It is a time of sowing-planting seeds for the future. However, as a writer I find it more of a time for harvesting, gathering all the wonders the season offers. These images will come in handy later... I wrote about yucca plants, in this excerpt, in the dead of winter. They were crisp, nestled in the dunes-the ocean just beyond them. I could hear their rustle as I wrote. Seasons come and go for writers.I anticipate a wonder Spring Fever in January..
My goal is to have my readers feel what they read, to be there in the moment. Writing is simply not about imagining what something is like, you need the real thing. I draw from my own life experience, but also observe others constantly and pay attention to body language and to reactions. Using these tools, I endeavor to make my character more real. Saying someone is happy is not good enough, the reader has to see that the character is happy. so, what does a happy face look like,? What does an angry face look like? These are things I think about when writing. I also have "go to " people, a detective, an FBI guy and a U.S. Marshal who help me find out what is legal and if a certain scene is plausible. Writing is work, very fulfilling work. What makes it so fulfilling is that I am always learning something new..
Imagine you are in a terrible marriage. Your wife ridicules you constantly and no matter what you do, it's the wrong thing. You find solace and worth on the water, either fishing or just enjoying the peace it offers. The ocean becomes your home away from home and you find that the comfort it offers is the closest thing to love that you know. I was raised by the ocean and worked on it for many years, Thus, I use allegory and metaphors (sea inspired) for most of my stories. The ocean can be an escape, it can be a destination. It can offer hope and adventure and give meaning. And if you listen it answers questions.
Blinded by lust and youth, August Temple had married the wrong person. Now, he's paying the price, and it is a dear one. His only daughter lies in the middle of an ugly and vengeful struggle for control.
For Morgan Simpers there was nothing better than fishing while high. He loved fishing and he loved his weed.
What to say about Morgan Simpers? Well, he's certainly a character, vapid as he may be. Having said that, interesting things always seem to find him, especially when he's not looking.
A child is a parent's deepest love, well, most of the time. Some parents just aren't cut out for the job. But it's the same old thing, greed, that gets in the way of a happy life. So what in the world are the folks from Topsail doing in Beaufort and New Bern? Seems there is no rest for the weary and no deeper love than love for a child.
The sixth book in the Murder by the Sea series by Carol Ann Ross. Have you ever walked into a room and wondered why? We all have experienced that at some time, but what if you're a thug and you can't remember your assignment? Oops! And then, SHE comes back.You thought she was safely locked away, tsk, tsk. Give her an inch, Estelle will take a mile, or a life.
Out of all the characters I write in the Murder by the Sea series, Estelle is most definitely the weirdest. Sometimes writing her is difficult and sometimes it's easy, nonetheless, she is always a learning experience. In the next book, TICKLER CHAIN, (now out on Amazon) find out just where this wacky bird ends up.
What makes someone who they are? What experiences have shaped them? Just what makes someone tic? These are questions I love answering or trying to figure out when developing a character. Most characters are composites of many people, thus developing that one character is sort of a pick and choose process. It is an involved process, but rewarding. ..
The last year or so has been devastating for many and, to say the least, life changing for others. How we adapt to change makes all the difference. I like to think that most people persevere through hard times, finding solace and reward because they believe in such things and do not dwell on the negative. My characters, Zach and Tillie, are such people, they have found purpose in lives that could have spiraled downward.
Rae's in a tight spot and isn't sure if she should confront a situation or move on. We've all been there, not knowing which way to go, which path to chose. Whatever the decision, it's one that will determine the future.
The tender moments between mother and child-what are they? They are the most simple of times, the most simple of events. In this excerpt, even the changing of a diaper is tender. Thinking back to my own childhood, there is one thing that closes the gap between all those years and the memory-my mother pinning my hair in bobby pins to make curls. I can still feel her warm body leaning against mine as she patiently and quietly curled my hair around a finger and pinned it against my head with bobby pins. The process took a long time and I cherished that time, since my mother was not a very demonstrative woman, She was quiet and often preferred to be alone. But at these times when I could feel the warmth of her body next to mine, I felt safe and calm and loved. All these little things that we often take for granted can become the most profound in our lives. Happy Mother's Day, Momma. I love you and miss you..
A good story needs a bad guy, but sometimes the line between good and bad is blurred. Just like in real life, my characters can make the wrong decision. And like in real life, they have to lie a little, or move the truth around to fit an agenda. . Often the bad guy is only bad for a little while. Sometimes the good guy does bad things and sometimes the bad guy does good things. All this dichotomy makes them human and that's what makes writing fun..
It's impossible for me to write a character without giving some kind of hint as to their "why". Is it nature or nurture that makes my characters who they are? Maybe it is both, either way you'll see their warts and all, flaws and foibles-my characters have a reason for being and I hope they are as believable as I try to make them..
Just how does one control the pace of their story? Words, the use of words and sentence structure. These simple things make a story seem real. At least that is the goal. The opening scene in this excerpt is meant to be fast paced. The sentences are choppier, the wording is terse. I wanted to show anxiety, even fear. The following paragraphs are more descriptive, The sentences are longer. I am after all, describing the emotions between two characters who are in love. And like in love, the writer needs a slow hand..
Carrie has been everything from a waitress to a fisherman and neither of the occupations satisfied her. In this excerpt we get a glimpse into what might ignite her desire.
Is it wrong to dream, wrong to remember when life was sweeter than it is now? It's a fine line.
My daddy always told me that I had to play the hand I was dealt. In other words, I had to use what I had to the best of my ability. What if all you have is an oar?
There's love in the air and innocence goes along with it. But you better believe some bastard is going to come along and try to exploit it. Thank God for Karma.
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