Tuesday, 29 January 2019

First Draft of Third Book in Meg Sheppard Mystery Series!

Here are the first two paragraphs of the first draft of my third book in the Meg Sheppard Mystery Series:
"The grass is growing at last and the horses are nibbling its fresh, brilliant-green blades. Just Eagle and Bullet are home at my farm. Rose and Speed are back at the racetrack where optimism and spirits run high as a new season of thoroughbred horse-racing begins. I miss them, but I'm looking forward to seeing them train and race. 
Instead of leaning on the oak-rail fence watching and listening, I could be packing to leave for a vacation with William. But we had our first passionate disagreement this morning and there's a residual shiver tingling along my spine: like an aftershock. He told me that he got a fantastic deal on a last-minute booking. He bought a short vacation at a resort in Cuba for both of us, as a surprise. But it was more like a bolt out of the blue for me. And the surprise for him is that I'm not going."
Wish me luck as I work on the slow and careful process of editing over 80,000 words! Don't feel sorry for me though - I enjoy all aspects of writing a novel, including editing!
And I love to write short stories. I have posted two more which I wrote to share at recent Uxbridge Writers' Circle uxbridgewriterscircle.blogspot.ca meetings. You can find them here:Short Stories
And if you still haven't read the first two books in the Meg Sheppard Mystery Series, they are available at Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge and at Books Galore in Port Perry, and as e-books at all your favourite e-book retailers!
Happy reading!

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Ten-minute Writing Challenge!

Instead of using a picture for a prompt for the ten-minute writing challenge during our recent meeting of the Uxbridge Writers' Circle, I used the first sentence of "Irma Voth" by Miriam Toews (a great book!).. This is what I wrote:

Jorge said he wasn't coming back until I learned how to be a better wife. The Trouble was, I didn't know what that meant. I'd been raised by my Uncle Edwin, Earl of Cavendish, who had so many servants I didn't have to lift a finger.
Breakfast was served on silver platters and in heated silver dishes with ornate knobs, lined up neatly on the sideboard. I had no idea how the food was prepared.
My dresses were made for me. I knew you had to pin and then baste and then sew, but how - I had no clue.
Then came the war. And the London Blitz. The large mansion was many of the victims of incendiary bombs. Uncle Edwin believed that his home wasn't near any of the key targets, so we wouldn't get bombed. But we did.
The Germans bombed everything, it seemed to me. Devastation everywhere.
Uncle Edwin was sitting in his favourite armchair when the bombers came. I had gone to the air-raid shelter with the servants. Jorge was the chauffeur. We struck up a friendship which, a year later, led to marriage.
But the adjustment to living in a small, damp cottage, albeit in the beautiful Cotswolds, was too much. I had no clue how to be a housewife and look after the cottage, and feed my husband, and darn his socks.
So, I left before Jorge had the chance.
That's when I believe my life really began.

Vicky Earle Copyright 2019


Thursday, 13 December 2018

Meg Sheppard Series Now Available As E-books!

Both books in the Meg Sheppard Mystery Series are now available as e-books.

You can find them on Amazon Kindle, Apple i-books and Kobo, as well as others.


To make it easy, here are links that, when you click on them, will give you the icon for each book at your favourite e-book retailer.


For "What Happened to Frank?" (the first book in the series): Universal Link to Book 1

For "Over Frank's Dead Body" (the second book in the series): Universal Link to Book 2

Enjoy and please leave a review!

N.B. Both books are also available in soft-cover at Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge; blueheronbooks.com; and at Books Galore in Port Perry; booksgaloreportperry.com
They make great gifts!!

Happy reading!

Thursday, 29 November 2018

"Operation Caper": a story

I wrote this story as my submission to our monthly "word challenge" _ the words I had to use are shown in italics. I had some fun writing this: a departure from the Meg Sheppard Mystery Series (I should be editing my third book!).
Hope you enjoy this!



Mitch was sure he was about to die of boredom as he pushed the tea trolley along the interminable length of the shiny corridor, towards the secret, underground offices of the MI32. The clatter of the cups on the saucers rebounded off the walls and he was pretty sure any enemy of the state could pick up the racket anywhere in the world, given today’s technology.
            A hand dove around in front of him and grabbed his badge.
            “Hey!”
            “It’s okay. It’s me. You can have my badge in exchange.”
            “Come on, don’t be nuts. What’s going on?” Mitch watched with his mouth gaping as his brother, Joe, took off his suit.
            “There are cameras everywhere,” Mitch reminded him.
            “I’ve seen to that,” Joe said. “Now give me your uniform.”
            “What’s going on, Joe, for Pete’s sake?” Mitch could get muddled, but even his brain could tell something was amiss.
            “I’m Mitch now. You’re Agent Joseph Fond, just for one day. Nothing’s going to happen, I promise. Just a routine day at the office. All you have to do is sit at my desk and stare at the computer screen. You’ll be fine.”
            “What about everyone’s tea?”
            “I’ve arranged for Tinman to take over. He’s coming now.” They turned and watched the slow, ponderous metallic robot whirring and creaking. “He’s programmed to deliver the tea, and he knows who wants sugar.”
            “He’ll do a better job.”
            “Yes, he probably will.”
            Mitch smoothed down his hair as Joe gave the black shoes a buff with a bit of spit and a rub with the sleeve of his brother’s uniform.
            “Okay, you’re ready. My badge works the same way as yours, but it gets you in everywhere except the dungeon.”
            “The dungeon’s where they keep the Elephant server.”
            “Only two people have access to the Elephant and I’m not one of them. So, don’t go down there.”
            “Why am I doing this, by the way?”
            “So I can play a round of golf on that new course up in Scotland.”
            “I thought it’d be something important.”
            “It is for me. See ya.” Joe sprinted back down the corridor.
            Mitch soon caught up with Tinman. He had an urge to spray some oil into the robot’s joints. What with the rattling tea trolley and the clanking robot, Mitch could feel a headache coming on. It wasn’t helped by the fact that he sensed eyes on him and that these eyes would know that he’d recently failed all of the MI32 analytical examinations and that he didn’t have the fortitude to be an agent. 
            He accessed Joe’s office without a hitch and sat in the chair which adjusted itself to fit his back, legs and arm lengths, as well as his distance from the computer screen. The sensation of being positioned by the chair made Mitch nauseated and he glanced around to see if there was a waste paper basket. None. No paper anywhere either, he noted.
            “Ah, glad I found you here.” A large man with an incongruous moustache, deep gravelly voice and thick lenses in black-framed glasses almost filled the doorway. “Joe, you must leave immediately. You’ve been assigned to “Operation Caper”. You’ll be briefed by Agent Barking.”
            “Operation Caper?”
            “Thanks, old chap.”
            I’m not old, Mitch thought. He dared not move for fear of the chair re-positioning him again but he would have liked to look in a mirror to check if he’d aged dramatically since he got out of bed that morning.
            “Agent Barking here. We’ve not met.” A lithe woman with long blond hair and sparkling blue eyes grabbed Mitch’s hand with such vigour he reckoned he should ice it afterwards. He moved and the chair started purring, so he sprung up.
            “Oh, is your chair faulty?” Agent Barking asked.
            “I think it must be. Tell me about ‘Operation Caper’.”
            “This is of the utmost importance and, of course, top secret.”
            “Top secret.”
            “We must leave within the hour to fly to Paris.”
            “To Paris.”
            “We must retrieve the stolen data which was collected by the Bubble Telescope and stored in the Elephant.”
            “The Elephant.”
            “Were you aware that the invaluable pictures of AMIS training camps had been stolen?”
            “No, I don’t think I was. Was I?”
            “Probably not. That’s top secret too. Pick up your bag and follow me.”
            Mitch saw a bag in the corner of the office and followed Agent Barking, clutching it to his chest. He wondered if everyone got their tea. He hadn’t seen any sign of Tinman outside his office.
            “Look as relaxed as possible at the airport,” Agent Barking said. “We have special clearance, so there shouldn’t be a problem.”
            It was a pretty short flight across the Channel but Mitch was disappointed that he wasn’t flying business class. He wanted to ask Agent Barking so many questions about “Operation Caper” but she was snoring. He could hear her rumbles above the engine noise.
            They landed safely.
            “Once we get to the hotel,” Agent Barking told him, “we must be very cautious. There is a change of clothes in your bag. We have to lie low and not draw attention to ourselves.”
            His room was nice but not extraordinary. Weren’t MI32 agents given suites? He found a pair of jeans and a shirt in the bag, as well as socks and loafers. He changed and made sure he was in the lobby to meet Agent Barking at the precise time she had instructed him to be there.
            She walked towards him wearing slim black slacks and a red, silky blouse. Her make-up highlighted her shimmering blue eyes and bright smile. She grabbed his arm.
            “We need to look like a couple.”
            “A couple.”
            She led him to a pair of imposing, dark-oak doors.
            “We have to meet some important people in here,” she said.  She opened the doors. It was dark. Lights flashed on and a room full of about seventy-five people yelled “surprise!” and then “happy birthday!”.
            Joe bounced over to Mitch and gave him a bear hug.
            “It’s not every day you turn forty and I thought this should be an extra special celebration. I can never thank you enough for saving my life in that op. I know things have been rough for you since then, because of your injuries. Just want to say thanks and many happy returns of the day!” Joe handed him a glass of beer.
            They all lifted their glasses and cheered, breaking into “for he’s a jolly good fellow”. Mitch beamed at them, but deep inside he yearned to be Agent Mitch Fond again, speeding after the bad guys in his Aston Martin, switching on the jet propulsion, firing his missiles and bringing those devils down. But his muddled brain was uncertain as to whether that memory was real or not. He looked around the room and decided that he’d best enjoy this party in Paris. Life is short.
            Agent Barking poured him another beer.

Vicky Earle Copyright 2018
           

           
           

Thursday, 22 November 2018

First Book in Meg Sheppard Mystery Series Available on Kindle

"What Happened to Frank?", the republished version, is now available from Amazon Kindle, ibooks, and many other ebook retailers. If you haven't already read it, you're missing a good mystery!
Bill Bells says "This book reminded my of why I like a good "whodunit". The tight writing and fast pace quickly drew me in and didn't let go of me until the last page. Move over Hercules Poirot and Inspector Banks - there's a new sleuth in town!".
Another review by "Mamoset" says "Thoroughly enjoyed it. The plot and multiple subplots certainly keep you guessing along with the characters - hard to put it down even when my eyes were telling me to sleep."
Danielle Crean says "A terrific read. I loved that every suspect had a secret, making the twists and turns very intriguing."
Please leave your own review at your favourite retailer.
You can find the ebook by clicking here: Universal ebook link to "What Happened to Frank?"
Enjoy!
The second book in the Meg Sheppard Mystery Series will also be released as an ebook soon.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Writing Tips From Authors' Events

Blue Heron Books organizes great Authors' Events and I've attended most of them this fall (I recommend them!).

I jotted down some notes when Kate Morton, Patrick Dewitt, Iain Reid, Craig Davidson and Nathan Ripley talked about their books and their writing.
They, of course, don't use the same approach to writing and these notes reflect that.

These are some of the points the authors made about structure and planning:

  1. I use layering of time and tether the "then" to the "now". 
  2. I use structure - not random.
  3. I like to have a sense as to where the book is going.
  4. I don't plot and plan but the ending is so crucial. I believe that you have to know where you're going. I wrote the last line early on and worked towards that last sentence. 
  5. I have an idea or image but no outline - seems bizarre to outline a story you don't know.
  6. I have disparate ideas which then grow together. 
These are some points related to description and setting:
  1. I take photographs, use visual images to provide references for description. 
  2. I research the area where the book is set.
  3. I like to reference specific detail rather than a lot of general description. 
Some comments on character:
  1. Need to do research so that characters as well as the historical period are authentic, including how people spoke. 
  2. Ability to be in that particular character is important. 
  3. Usually takes a while to get a fabricated character to be three-dimensional.
  4. Moving character - hard to walk away without some degree of empathy.
  5. Some of the characters won't have names at first - a name eventually emerges. 
  6. There is a lot of dialogue - my novels feel personal. 
General comments:
  1. Complicated and surprising and also in line with my take on the world - subversion of what's expected.
  2. Grounded in realism but open to the hint that more is happening than we're aware of in our real world. 
  3. Appreciation of poetry is helpful - for rhythm and making it pleasant to say (audio books are more and more popular).
  4. Memories - people can hold different perspectives - why do our memories change? We tend to want to make them more palatable - this is a rich and shifting terrain for writers. 
  5. Used present tense to allow room for instinct - not too intellectual. 
  6. My books don't fit a specific genre. 
And a couple of my favourites:
  1. Write with genuine passion and love - put some of yourself into it. 
  2. It's impossible to please everyone with a book!

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Excellent Review for Second Book in Meg Sheppard Mysteries Series!

William Bell is a fan of the Meg Sheppard Mysteries Series. He gave my first book "What Happened to Frank?" a rave review and I hoped very much that my second book wouldn't disappoint. 

Apparently, it didn't!

Hearing from readers that they enjoy reading my books and stories lifts me up and encourages me to keep on writing! (My third book is in rough draft form).

Here's William's review, which I sincerely appreciate:

"This is a great follow-up to “What Happened to Frank” and another great mystery by writer Vicky Earle.   Once again, Ms. Earle keeps things moving at a torrid pace, wasting no words while winding the main character, Meg Sheppard, into the centre of a complex web of crime, including of course, a murder.  This book would adapt well to a thrilling stage play like Sleuth or The Mousetrap, with key events unfolding in surprising ways literally at Meg’s doorstep.    

“Over Frank’s Dead Body” is much more than a mystery however, it’s also a treatise on love.  While I found myself trying to sift through the clues along with my new favourite, albeit somewhat reluctant sleuth Meg, to connect the dots and solve the crime, I also realized that I was witnessing the disturbingly wide scope of love’s power. Ms Earle skillfully reveals Meg Sheppard to us in ways that makes the reader share in the main character’s emotional journey - sad, angry, and tortured at one moment, and then hopeful, grateful and even blissful the next.  Love is perhaps life’s greatest mystery and this book is a reminder as to why." 

Thank you!