As their wedding day fast approaches, Minty Wilcox has some questions about her fiancé Daniel Price. Did he really kill someone? Why has he never told her he’s rich? And for goodness’ sake, where will they go on their honeymoon?
From Minty’s journal . . .
But back to my story of naming the Irish setter puppy that Papa has given us as a wedding present . . . My fiancé, the outrageous Daniel Price, the man that I am to marry in less than a week, told me in no uncertain terms that the dog must be named Butch! I suppose he was just teasing, but still . . . Butch?
Even Papa said, “Why, Daniel, giving this sweet girl pup a thug’s name doesn’t bode well for when you two start giving Laura and me grandchildren.”
(That reminded me of possibly being called “Mrs. Elmer Horace Frankenfurter-Engishdeiler” that at one point Daniel said was his real name, so I giggled a bit over it.)
After Papa said that, Daniel backed down and said, “Well, let me think about it then.”
He does seem to like the pup very much. After he half scared the poor little thing to death with his clown’s wig and white face, he took off the wig, went upstairs to the bathroom and washed up. When he came down again, he looked fairly normal except for the bruise around his left eye.
Speaking of that, my brother Kit said, “Will you have a black eye for your wedding day?”
“I might,” Daniel said . . .
Mischief in March is Book 3 of the Calendar Mystery series that tells the story of Minty Wilcox and Daniel Price from newly met to newly wed and beyond a hundred years or so ago, when life in Kansas City could get downright deadly.
“Stop! Thief!” a woman screamed. Across the lobby, outside the New England National Bank stood a stooped woman in black and a raggedy little boy. The woman pointed to a fellow running up the stairs and shouted, “Come back here with my purse.” Then, seeming to notice Minty and Daniel for the first time, she said, “That man took my purse!”
“Hold this, darling girl,” Daniel said.
Minty took the shopping bag fragrant with the lunch they’d just purchased from the deli down the street and clutched it to her chest as Daniel sprinted off past the elevators.
After that, in quick succession, the boy who’d opened the doors for them whistled sharply and shouted, “Let’s get out of here, Mick!”
The little kid turned away from the screaming old lady and limped up to Minty. “Please, ma’am, could you spare a nickel?” he said. “I ain’t eat nothing yet today.” He gazed up at Minty with heart-breaking blue eyes.
“No time for that now, Mick,” said the boy who’d held the door for Minty and Daniel. He snatched the shopping bag out of Minty’s hand and pushed past her to the door.
“Hey!” Minty said. “Give that—“
In their first case together as a detective couple, newly engaged Minty Wilcox and Daniel Price pursue a gang of thieves plaguing Kansas City in February 1900. Distractions include the objections of their boss to any show at all of their affection for each other inside the office and out and Minty’s wayward thoughts about the secret married couples keep to themselves. Join the fun, mystery and romance of this Calendar Mystery short story that takes place between the events of Fatal February and Mischief in March. And along the way meet the son of a famous outlaw.
Praise for “The 9th Street Gang”
If you wish for something pleasant to get your mind off the lately awful news, delve yourself into the story of three little hoodlums that steal this story from the endearing main characters and enjoy the tidbits of Kansas City history. Amazon Reviewer
Get “The 9th Street Gang” for free at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B079YYVTTX
Mystery . . .
Romance . . .
Wannabe woman sleuth
in old Kansas City . . .
Praise for Fatal February
Book 2 of Juliet Kincaid’s calendar mystery series
In the year 1900, Minty Wilcox has been hired by a private detective agency, her on again/off again beau’s employer, as a stenographer. For this spunky gal, typing and taking shorthand aren’t enough. She wants to be an operative. So, of course, author Juliet Kincaid, accommodates her protagonist by letting her delve into a missing person/murder case, sometimes sanctioned, but often not, by her boss. The ins and outs of the investigation, Minty’s romantic ups and downs, and her inside out family situations are fun to follow . . . Good follow-up to January Jinx, the first mystery in the series. Amazon reviewer
Snippet from Fatal February
Just then the door to Mathison’s office from the outside hall opened and a fellow shuffled in. He wore a loose, black jacket that came down to his mid thighs and brown corduroy trousers that bagged around his ankles. As the man sauntered toward them, he pulled a black, visored cap off his head.
“It’s getting cold out there,” said Daniel Price.
“Why, Mr. Price,” Minty said. “I didn’t recognize you in those clothes.”
He stopped, held his arms wide and looked down. “Like them? These are my workingman’s duds.”
“Fetching, Mr. Price, though they do look like you stole them from a larger man.”
“Not exactly. I bought them second hand or even fourth hand. Who’s to know? At any rate, these duds suit the work. And by the way, Miss Wilcox, I like your pretty hair ribbon.”
“Why, thank you, sir.”
“Enough of your banter, you two,” Mathison said. “It’s about time you decided to come in, my boy. I hope your efforts paid off better than Miss Wilcox’s.”
“But, Mr. Mathison, I discovered quite a bit . . .”
Fatal February is available February 10 through February 16, 2020 for only
$0.99 at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B017081JHM
(and Fatal February is always free on Kindle Unlimited.)
Just then a hullabaloo erupted outside. Men shouted. Horses neighed. A dog barked.
In the kitchen, Gerta shouted, “Frau Vilcox, Herr . . .“ But a cat squalling, a dog baying, and a man swearing drowned out the rest of what she said.
As Mama smoothed her hair and smiled, Minty sprang up from her chair. “What’s going on, Mama?” Minty asked just before Sergeant the cat sprinted into the dining room and sailed onto the table. As he sprang for the plate rail, over went the bottle of rosewater. There was no help for the scent streaming across the oilcloth, but Minty caught an oyster plate the cat dislodged. Minty set the plate on the table as a beagle pranced and howled by her feet.
“For goodness’ sake, King, sit!” Mama commanded and the dog promptly did. Mama righted the perfume bottle and dropped a handful of cotton fluff in the puddle of scent.
“Good god, Laura.” A man of medium height with broad shoulders under a black leather coat appeared in the door. He had blazing blue eyes and a wind-burned face below a battered brown sombrero. You’ve got this place smelling like a French whorehouse.”
“Back in town so soon, Thomas?” Mama asked coolly.
“Papa!” Minty hurled herself out of her chair and at her father who hugged her and then pulled her around to his side.
For lots more fun, mystery, and romance in Old Kansas City with a bright business girl and a dashing detective, you still have a few more hours to get the BIG boxed set of my calendar mystery series for the low, low price of $2.99 at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QDKF413 or £2.99 at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07QDKF413
Get real Black Friday and Cyber Monday bargains in a boxed set.
The Calendar Cozy Historical Mystery stories and novels by Juliet Kincaid tell the story of business girl Minty Wilcox and dashing detective Daniel Price from newly met to newlywed and beyond in Kansas City, a place that could get downright deadly a hundred years or so ago.
The boxed set includes January Jinx, Fatal February, Mischief in March, and the bonus short story “Detectives’ Honeymoon,” all for only $2.99 at www.amazon.com/dp/B07QDKF413 and £2.99 at www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07QDKF413 from 11/28/2019 through 12/03/2019, many pages for your holiday reading pleasure. Happy Thanksgiving.
Praise for JANUARY JINX
Book 1 of the Calendar Mystery Series
The delightful, creative, and charming January Jinx introduces a terrific character in Minty Wilcox, a good old-fashioned cozy mystery persona who will surely be able to carry the planned-for series. It’s Minty who drives the readable narrative, and author Juliet Kincaid keeps the pace steady and fast at the same time for quite a readable experience . . . The unique setting of 1899 Kansas City is full of flavor that never overwhelms the story and the characters. With a terrific, original, but still comfortable series concept, there are certainly big things afoot for Juliet Kincaid and Minty Wilcox’s Calendar Mysteries.
Some of you have asked me about terminology I’ve used recently in my Tuesday #writingtips and #writetips. Or possibly you’ve wondered about my using an inverted check mark to represent plot, so today I’ll explain an excerpt from Novel Basics, my compact yet complete guide to writing a novel.
Note: my illustrations may appear a bit unfinished because one of the points I make in Novel Basics is that writers can jot down the basic ideas they need to start a novel on twenty 3″ X 5″ index cards in about ninety minutes.
A Brief History of Plot
Way back in 4th Century BCE, the Greek philosopher Aristotle gave the first guidelines to plot structure when he said that a tragedy needs three parts: beginning, middle, and end, later called Act 1, Act 2, and Act 3. He also stated that the beginning isn’t necessarily preceded by any significant action, the middle grows out of the beginning, and the end grows out of middle. A successful plot might contain a surprise like some sort of shift in the action or finding out a secret from the past.
This very simple statement belies all the variations, refinements, arguments and applications to assorted kinds of storytelling that have developed since that time. Those variations included that of Horace, a Roman poet, who later said that a play needed five acts. Both Aristotle and Horace were talking about stories performed on a stage with live actions. Some differences and divergences of how plots were structured came about with the novel.
One of the earliest ways extended fiction was structured was the still popular picaresque plot, so named because Miguel de Cervantes used this type of plot in Don Quixote, first published in 1606, in which the hero and his sidekick, a rascal or picaro named Sancho Panza, go on one adventure after another.
The picaresque plot tends to have a bunch of episodes loosely strung together, that is, just one darned thing after another. You might recognize it from the very popular Fifty Shades of Grey. (Honestly, I haven’t read that novel. But a friend of mine read the first few chapters and reported that the book seemed episodic to her.)
Charles Dickens structured The Pickwick Papers, first published in installments in 1836, in similar fashion though he did frame the adventures with an overall story about Pickwick’s wedding proposal to a woman who sued him for breach of promise for not following through at the end of the novel.
I’ll omit some of the other variations of plot structure and skip to Syd Field’s Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting, first published in 1979.
Field said that successful movies tend to have three parts: Act 1 that runs for about thirty minutes (about thirty script pages), Act 2 that runs sixty minutes (about sixty pages), and Act 3, that runs to no more than thirty minutes. Field also says that a successful movie has six essential scenes.
Not long after that, Robert J. Ray in The Weekend Novelist described the structure of a novel as similar to Field’s paradigm, but with more pages in each act because the novelist must put much more on the page than the screenwriter does. Suffice it to say that the plot of a novel needs several scenes, six or even as many as nine including scenes that cut up the large Act 2 into manageable parts.
Scriptwriters are often so precise about bringing in the essential scenes that you can time them. “Hey, hey, wait for it. Wait for it. Ah, here comes Plot Point 1, right on schedule at minute 29.” Novelists generally aren’t so precise about hitting the plot points, but still successful novels usually place these important scenes at fairly regular intervals.
Somerset Maugham, author of almost twenty novels, once famously said, “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” That hasn’t kept other writers from writing books on the subject and coming up with more rules, up to ten in one instance. My own take on this is that the novel you write tells you what it needs and wants to be as you write it, including decisions on structure. For example, although the classical template might dictate otherwise, Suzanne Collins divided The Hunger Games into three parts, all about the same length: Part I–138 pages, Part II–106 pages, Part III–130 pages.
As for myself, a writer primarily of mystery fiction, I prefer a more logical plot than the picaresque novel has, not one darned thing after another, but a tightly connected chain of events: that is, one more thing happens because of what happened before and the whole situation getting more and more complicated until things come together in a big scene in which the whole situation gets resolved.
My favorite representation of plot is the inverted check mark with the three major acts and the six major scenes overlaid on it because this diagram shows how the action and the tension of a well plotted novel build to the highest point of intensity in the book that’s resolved before its end.
Instead of thinking of plot structure as a formula, think of it as a skeleton, the bare bones on which you need to build your novel.
Novel Basics is available in print for $8.99 (ISBN: 9781730833991). The digital version of Novel Basics costs only $0.99 from October 9 through October 15, 2019–just in time for you to use it to prepare for NaNoWriMo 2019–at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07K2LXFRP and £0.99 at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07K2LXFRP
A WiP Report
I’ve reached midpoint of my current Work in Progress. (I think. I hope.) So I’m taking some time to reflect on the book I’ve worked on – or at least thought about – since the 1980’s when my daughter and I participated in activities of the Society for Creative Anachronism, “an international living history group with the aim of studying and recreating mainly Medieval European cultures and their histories before the 17th century” (Wikipedia).
In the years Jess and I were active in the SCA, we made many friends; enjoyed the group fantasy of wearing weird clothes, sometimes eating strange food at feasts, speaking an offbeat version of the English language; attending events like Kris Kinder in December; and learning arcane skills such as transforming fleece into yarn with a drop spindle.
But when I decided to become a part time writer in addition to my full time job as professor of writing at a local community college, and my family responsibilities, my leisure time vanished.
Yet over the years, my mind has returned to the concept of setting a mystery novel at least partly if not completely inside the world of a Renaissance Festival and/or inside a group somewhat similar to the SCA. Some times I called the book Death in Shining Armor and sometimes Die by the Sword. Currently, I’m working on the fourth version, or maybe it’s the fifth, again called Death in Shining Armor.
I wrote the first version of Death of Shining Armor with a young female police officer as the protagonist in the early ’90’s. In 1993 I received a review of the book by a published author who also belonged to the SCA, so sarcastic and scathing I felt like I’d been beaten after I read it. As the daughter of a belittling mother, the ex-wife of a belittling husband, and a teacher of writing, I abhor that sort of feedback. I would never permit it in my own classroom. But since those voices in my head echoed that of the reviewer, I abandoned the project.
Later in the 90’s I returned to the book with a female private detective from a family of investigators. I actually got an agent to shop this version around to publishers, but she didn’t manage to sell it. So I moved on to a completely different project.
Still intrigued by the concept, I returned to the project some time in the ’00’s, but gave the book a young female protagonist in peril who wasn’t an investigator at all. This version I called Die by the Sword. I abandoned this version and a tweak I tried of it in 2017. I think what bothered me most about that version was that I’d bashed some of the characters in it based on people I have known, something I said I abhorred, that is , critique the crap out of them without allowing them to do the same to me.
But apparently this is the book that won’t die. And so about six weeks ago I picked the suspense version up again. And it’s going better. I’m doing a better job of letting the supporting characters live their own lives. In contrast, I’m finding points of identification with the protagonist that help me sympathize with her more. Another thing that might help this version is I’ve set in 1988 instead of present day. (What fun!) Another thing that seems to be helping is the confidence in my own work I’ve gained from my experiences as an indie author since 2011. I’ll keep you posted on how my once and future book is going.
Meanwhile, to keep up with what I’m doing, friend me on Facebook where I’m juliet.kincaid and JulietKincaidauthor2016, follow me on Twitter where I’m JulietKincaid, and occasionally check out my Amazon Central Author’s page at www.amazon.com/Juliet-Kincaid/e/B00DB4HWRG for new publications.
My most recent published work is a boxed set of my first three Calendar Mystery books and a short story featuring a business girl and a dashing detective and set in Kansas City where living could downright deadly a hundred years or so ago. You can get your own copy at www.amazon.com/dp/B07QDKF413
P. S. When you read my work and if you enjoy it, please write a review and post it on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Just a few words, perhaps about what you like most about the book or story, would help. And I’d really appreciate it.
A WiP Report
The closet in my bedroom in our little house isn’t big enough to accommodate my entire wardrobe, so this time of year I move my dark blue and gray sweat pants, my flannel shirts, my black and my brown fleece hoodies from the back of the house to the closet in the home office at the front of the house. I usually park my winter clothes on a chair while I haul out my spring and summer jackets, lightweight and colorful slacks and shirts (orange, peach, bright pink, yellow – oh joy!) and a skirt or two. I hang them on the door while I fill the front closet with items I won’t wear again for six months or so.
But the transition between winter and spring has been hard this year because of the late snowstorms and cold weather we’ve had around here. So some of my fleece pants and jackets have made the trip across the house two or three times.
My transition between writing projects has been prolonged and difficult as well.
Originally, I planned on continuing my cozy historical Calendar Mystery series set in Kansas City with an April book. I’ve had a very strong idea for this book for more than a year. But life-happens events gobbled up the time I needed to write that book and finish it this spring. And so I stopped working on it and set my sights on writing a book to bring out in fall that would start a new series.
Even that took several weeks because I dithered among three possible ideas, all of which involved books that I’ve already at least drafted: a science fiction novel set in a dystopian, matriarchal society that I wrote in 1986, a vast historical novel set in the Ancient World that I completed in 1989, and a series of academic mysteries that I’ve been fooling around with for years and years in one form or another. Characters from all three projects have called to me lately, the big historical especially, so much so that I hauled out the old notebooks and boxes of manuscripts for that project and put them on the shelf where my calendar mysteries lived for so long.
If I gave the heroine tiny feet like Cinderella and put dragons in the series, I’d make it into historical fantasy, and it might sell quite well as such. I could call the first book in the series The Spoils of War and market it as the next Game of Thrones, yet somewhat softer to suit my largely female readership.
But when I read Madeleine Miller’s marvelous novel The Song of Achilles, I began to doubt my ability to come up with enough detail to make one novel, let alone a series, come alive and sing. I also had problems even figuring out where in the future world I’d put the characters and action of the dystopian novel.
Then suddenly at last it became spring. And looking out my kitchen window as I washed dishes one evening, I admired my crab apple tree in bright bloom through the pergola. And I thought, if I write the contemporary mystery series, I could set it in my neighborhood. That way, I’ll find details everywhere.
And so, I’ve began brainstorming a new version of Fall into Murder, a contemporary cozy mystery that I drafted during my first participation in National Novel Writing Month in 2014. I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going.
Please note that I’ve put together a boxed set of the first three novels of my cozy historical Calendar Mystery series that tells the story of business girl Minty Wilcox and dashing detective Daniel Price from newly met to newly wed and beyond in Kansas City, a place that could downright deadly a hundred years or so ago. It’s now available to pre-order for only $3.99 at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QDKF413
Even though Old Time Stories is Book 4 of my Calendar Mystery series, you can read it as a standalone since it fills in the gaps before, between, and after the novels in the series.
Here’s an FYI from July 4, 2017, about “The Barn Door,” the first short story in this collection of fiction and nonfiction. It placed third for the top free short reads, just after something by some guy named James Patterson!
Here’s a review of “The 9th Street Gang,” another short story in Old Time Stories: “If you wish for something pleasant to get your mind off the lately awful news, delve yourself into the story of three little hoodlums that steal this story from the endearing main characters and enjoy the tidbits of Kansas City history.”
The collection ends with a never-before published short called “The Shackleton Ghost.” Old Time Stories costs only 99 cents in the US at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07F4JL8D5 and a penny less than a pound at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07FJL8D5 today, 04/03/19 through Sunday 04/07/19. (This book is also available in print from Amazon.)