Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Starting the New Year with a Podcast

 


January symbolically marks a new beginning and a fresh start. Thanks to Lorie Lewis Ham at KINGS RIVER LIFE MAGAZINE https://KingsRiverLife.com, one of my mystery stories is now available as a free podcast. And this is a first for me in the new year.

Podcasts seem to be very popular—just ask Dr. Phil. 

In fact, one of my daughters-in-law, Anna Seewald, who

is in the psychology field, does a popular one herself.

To my mind, podcasts are similar to radio shows except they are available on the internet. For those who like a mystery story to listen to, I hope you’ll tune into this one and let me know if you found it interesting:

 https://mysteryratsmaze.podbean.com/e/murder-and-money-by-jacqueline-seewald/ 

What are some of your plans or resolutions for the year ahead? Are they the same as last year or have they changed?

Friday, December 10, 2021

Sharing Reading Suggestions for the Holidays

 

The holidays are a great time to gift friends, family or  yourself with books to read. And there certainly are a lot of them being published! You can find books to suit every age and taste whether fiction or nonfiction. Let’s share recommendations, whether it be your own work or that of others.

I’ll start things going. THE GHOST AND THE HAUNTED PORTRAIT published this year continues an enjoyable series. Cleo Coyle is the pseudonym for Alice Alfonsi and her husband Marc Cerasini. Their main characters are Penny McClure who runs a quaint Rhode Island bookstore and the ghost of Jack Shepard, a PI who died there in the 1940’s. They make an entertaining sleuthing combination. I very much enjoyed reading this novel and recommend it to cozy mystery readers.

Another series mystery is SEVEN-YEAR WITCH, which follows BAIT AND WITCH, both by Angela M. Sanders, and both published this year. Librarian Josie Way has moved to small-town Wilfred, Oregon. Josie discovers her witchcraft abilities and solves a series of murders. Delightfully, the books in her new library constantly converse with her offering clues. This is another new fun read for cozy mystery lovers.

Okay, now it’s your turn. Please share the books and publications you think will make for good holiday reading. Feel free to talk about work you’ve recently had published if you’re an author. Readers, please mention books you have on your wish list and/or recently read and enjoyed.

 

 

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

A Writer’s Thoughts on Thanksgiving

 


As we once again approach our national Thanksgiving holiday, considering what to be thankful for seems particularly appropriate.

 

First and foremost, I treasured my husband and the many years we shared. I am thankful for my children and my grandchildren. I value good health. I also appreciate the fact that I am able to be a full-time writer.

 


My husband, Monte, encouraged me to write something that would be meaningful and significant. I thought long and hard about how to fulfill that suggestion. 

My novella THE BURNING was published by Annurlunda Enterprises. The Burning is based on a play I wrote which won the Playhouse 22 Playwrights Award and was performed on stage. I decided to approach it in another genre.

THE BURNING is faction, part fact, but also fiction, about what happens to a family in Pennsylvania as the result of a coal fire burning under the town. Members of the Ferris family face his or her personal hell, barely coming through it alive, forced to acknowledge painful truths and deal with issues of faith. It’s based on real events that occurred in Centralia. Unfortunately, such problems continue to plague coal-mining communities in different places. Climate change is a very serious problem causing all sorts of environmental problems. And there are no easy answers.

 Here is a brief excerpt from the novella:

Chapter Four

George drove home on autopilot, detached, barely aware of his surroundings. The talk with Baines kept turning over in his head. He’d worked so hard for so many years to provide a good life for his family. Was that going to end now? The whole thing seemed crazy. Could some underground fire wreck his life and that of his family? He shook his head, refusing to accept this as inevitable.

The living room of George Ferris’s house usually offered a refuge, but he didn’t want to walk inside yet. Instead he stood in the front hallway praying for composure while silently lurking. He could see Amy was sitting on the sofa attentively reading a book, feet tucked under her.

Every so often, she coughed. Liz came into the room. She was dressed in brown slacks and a casual cream-colored blouse. He admired how beautiful his wife was. With her natural good looks, she wore very little make-up and didn’t need it. George was reminded of how much he loved her. Liz was the real deal. What would this news do to her? She deserved so much better in life. For a few minutes, he watched Liz straightening up the room, but then she stopped to listen to Amy’s recurring cough.

THE BURNING is available both in print and as an e-book. You can check out the details from the publisher at: 

http://annorlundaenterprises.com/books/the-burning/

or:

https://www.amazon.com/Burning-J-P-Seewald/dp/1944354263 

or:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-burning/id1295182706?ls=1&mt=11

or:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-burning-j-p-seewald/1127102724?ean=9781944354268 
or:
https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-burning-38
or:
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/753033
What are you thankful for? Your health, your accomplishments, family,
 friends? Your thoughts and comments most welcome!

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, October 30, 2021

History of Halloween: The Real Story

 

      

 

Ever wonder what the real deal is concerning this holiday? The paranormal aura and mystique surrounding Halloween connects to a series of beliefs, traditions and superstitions.

What is the actual origin of Halloween?  It appears to date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain.  By Celts we refer to the people who lived approximately 2,000 years ago in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrating their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer harvest and the beginning of dark, cold winter, a time of year often associated with human death.

Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, believing that ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future.  The Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.

During these celebrations, Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they put out earlier that evening. This symbolic lighting was done from the sacred bonfire to serve as a protection during the coming winter.


By 43 A.D., the Romans had conquered a majority of Celtic territory. During the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain. The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of "bobbing" for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

By the 800’s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 as All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. The pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in 1000 A.D., the church designated November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils.

Tales of the supernatural and paranormal are ever popular during the Halloween season. Black Opal Books published WITCH WISH, my YA novel with a supernatural twist:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DRB3VVH
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/witch-wish/id1401568260?mt=11
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/witch-wish-jacqueline-seewald/1128937209?ean=2940162153894

 This followed THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER, available in all e-books as well as print.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JZYXW7K/

 Also available, DARK MOON RISING, Gothic romantic suspense from Luminosity for adult reading, available in all e-book formats and print as well.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00Z7824A4/

http://luminositypublishing.com/product/dark-moon-rising/

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/dark-moon-rising/id1020852100?mt=11

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dark-moon-rising-jacqueline-seewald/1122376394?ean=2940150766686 

https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-darkmoonrising-1856071-340.html

At the moment, I’m reading SEVEN-YEAR WITCH by Angela M. Sanders, her paranormal mystery following BAIT AND WITCH, both well-written.

 Are there any books or stories that you consider good Halloween reading choices? If so, please share with us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

Thursday, September 9, 2021

What Will Be the Next Big Trend in Fiction Publishing?

A recent article in WRITER’S DIGEST published an agent’s response to this question which I read with interest. Boiled down to basics, the article suggests the best way to write a successful book isn’t by looking to copy the latest trend which will be over by the time you can finish your new book anyway. The answer: write a quality book. The article got me thinking about mystery and crime fiction in particular. Let’s do a bit of examination. 

The traditional mystery features a detective or several detectives who investigate a crime or series of crimes. The amateur sleuths can work in any number of unique and unusual professions which provide interesting background and setting for the story. They can live in any place in the world. They can be nosy spinsters who live in small English villages or gifted professors who investigate bizarre historical crimes. From cozy to thriller, the amateur sleuth fascinates readers. 

The private detective novel is a mystery genre unto itself. In 1887, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created Sherlock Holmes, the most famous of all fictional detectives. Sherlock Holmes was not the first fictional detective. However, his name is one we think of immediately. Conan Doyle stated that the character of Holmes was inspired by Dr. Joseph Bell, for whom Doyle had worked as a clerk at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Like Holmes, Bell was noted for drawing large conclusions from small observations.  The quirky Holmes was renowned for his insights based on skillful use of observation, deduction and forensics to solve puzzling cases. Conan Doyle wrote four novels and fifty-six short stories featuring Holmes, and all but four stories are narrated by Holmes's friend, assistant, and biographer, Dr. John Watson. The Sherlock Holmes mystique is still celebrated today in books, short stories, films and television programs. Holmes, the “consulting detective,” still fascinates a modern audience of devotees. 

The Golden Age of Detective Fiction, the 1920’s and 30’s, brought many writers of detective stories to the forefront. British female authors like Agatha Christie are particularly memorable. Of the four "Queens of Crime" of that era: Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh and Margery Allingham, all were British except for Marsh who was a New Zealander. 

In the 1930’s, the hard-boiled private eye novels began to evolve with American writers. Over the years, many interesting writers have emerged in this genre. Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane, Ross Macdonald, and Robert Parker are just a few of the writers who still resonate with readers. P.I. detectives are tough guys dealing with seedy characters on the mean city streets, the so-called underbelly of society. They are professional detectives who live by a code of honor but rarely earn much for their efforts. They generally have antagonistic relationships with the police and, like the amateur detective, tend to be more intelligent than professional law enforcement counterparts. The P.I. novel was male-dominated until the late 1970’s and early 80’s when writers such as Sara Paretsky, Marcia Miller and Sue Grafton began creating women investigators who were as tough as men. These novels offered more in-depth characterization and, in the case of Paretsky, a social agenda.

 

The police procedural provides the reader with a different type of detective story. In reality, most crimes are investigated by police. This type of mystery stresses step-by-step procedures followed by professional detectives such as processing crime scenes to collect physical evidence, canvassing the area for witnesses or suspects, postmortem examination of bodies in the case of murders, identifying a victim if that is not known, and interviewing known friends, co-workers, relatives and associates. The list is often long and tedious. Not generally so in a novel. Although it is agreed that the police procedural should be accurate in portraying what law enforcement officers actually do, it is not necessary to bore readers to death. Like the P.I. novel, this is action-oriented genre fiction. While the plot may be the backbone of a police procedural as O’Neil De Noux, a longtime police officer and homicide detective, observed in an article written for The Writer (“How to Write the Police Procedural Novel,” October, 1992 issue), the novel won’t interest readers unless there are well-developed central characters-- witness the great success of Ed McBain's 87th precinct series in books, film and as a television series.  Much of the appeal of the novels rest with main character Steve Carella and his relationship with Teddy, his deaf-mute wife, as well as his interaction with fellow police detectives such as Meyer. 

Distinctive places also add interest to the modern police procedural. For example, moody Scandinavian settings have provided bleak backgrounds for the investigations of Inspector Martin Beck (Sjöwall and Wahlöö in the 1960’s) or Wallander  (Henning Mankell) and more recently Inspector Tell (Camilla Cedar). 

It goes without saying that all books should be researched for accuracy of detail. However, Eric Wright observes (The Writer, October 1990 issue, p. 9) that writers should do their research last. His reasoning: once a story is written the writer will know what information is actually needed and necessary. Collecting unnecessary facts proves to be a waste of valuable time. I am of the opinion that it also leads to information dumping as many writers then cannot resist the temptation to include material that should be cut and which has no purpose in the book or story. 

Of course, the more traditional view is that authors who write police procedurals must insist on total accuracy. Margaret Maron, for instance, has explained how she used interviews with police detectives and civil service clerks, attended “criminalistics” classes and took notes on the trivia associated with everyday police activities in a station house to depict realism in her police novel series (The Writer, June, 1993 issue). 

Patricia D. Cornwell’s novels have long graced the bestseller lists.  Her Dr. Kay Scarpetta forensic pathologist crime novels are strongly associated with her own career. Cornwell describes herself as having been a crime reporter. The character of Dr. Scarpetta appears to have been initially inspired by an interview she had with a female medical examiner. She went to work for the medical examiners and eventually became their computer analyst. Her opinion: stories that lack credibility and authenticity will be unread (The Writer, December 1991, p. 18-20). 

P. D. James is another author of police procedurals we can describe as the real deal. James held a position as a senior employee in the Criminal Policy Department in England. Joseph Wambaugh has given us some memorable characters who happen to be police officers based on his personal experience and knowledge.  

Cross genre fiction combining elements of romance, the paranormal, and suspense with mystery have become more common in today’s crime fiction. I believe this less traditional approach is becoming a trend in modern mystery fiction. The traditional lines are blurring, and authors are experimenting with a greater variety of style and technique in a genre that is now more dynamic, fluid and exciting. What does remain is the need for a well-developed plot, well-rounded and well-defined characters, and a distinctive setting. 

My last two mystery novels, DEATH PROMISE, a romantic suspense sequel to DEATH LEGACY, and BLOOD FAMILY, my 5th Kim Reynolds mystery, do blur the lines. Kim, for example, is a reluctant sleuth with paranormal abilities.

What trends will the future of fiction hold for readers and writers alike? It remains to be seen. Your thoughts and opinions most welcome.

 

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Summer Viewing: Film and Fiction

 


We’ve made recommendations for summer reading in July 2021. But people enjoy seeing movies in the summer as well. So here are some questions that relate and that you might want to respond to in the comments on this blog:

First, have you seen any films lately that you’d like to recommend to others?

Second, are there some films you consider classics or so great that they make your list of best films ever?

Third, do you think that films based on novels or plays are of better quality than those written as original screenplays?

 

I can’t answer the first question fairly because since COVID hit we haven’t been going out to theatres. I do see a lot of Hallmark movies on TV which are a somewhat pleasant diversion.

 

Second, besides film classics like Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Twelve Angry Men, Inherit the Wind, Pygmalion, Mrs. Miniver, which I have watched on Turner Classic TV, there are some memorable more recent films like October Sky and Hugo which I consider special.

 

Regarding the third question, if I read a book prior to seeing the film version, I am often disappointed by the movie. I believe this is because my imagination envisions differently than the cinematographers. An example of this would be The Godfather, a much-acclaimed film. I still prefer the novel.

 

What are your thoughts? What films do you consider memorable? Were they movie versions of books or short stories? Which did you prefer? Let’s compare.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Summer Reading 2021

It’s that time of year again when every magazine, newspaper and newsletter offer suggestions on summer reading. So why should this blog be any different?

Summer is the perfect time to spend some time vacationing or just relaxing. Sit in the sun, lie on a chaise poolside, rest by the ocean or a lake, or under the shade of a tree, sip a cool drink, and read a book—hard cover, soft cover, audio or digital. 

Mysteries remain one of the most popular genres for summer reading. Why? Because they entertain us. They also engage our intellect in a satisfying manner. Romances provide us with a happy ever after ending, good escape reading. If you like reading for enjoyment, it’s the way to go. 

Lots of good summer reading on the bestseller list.

However, there are excellent authors who write for small independent presses and provide us with quality fiction but don’t get as much publicity because they are not with the big publishers.

For adult readers, I suggest my mystery novel

Death Promise, a romantic mystery thriller published by Encircle and available on Amazon and other booksellers in both print and ebook editions. Also from Encircle is my latest mystery, Blood Family, my 5th Kim Reynolds mystery.

For readers of young adult fiction I suggest WITCH WISH from Black Opal Press, also available from most booksellers.

Intrigue Publishing is offering my adult romantic mystery THE INHERITANCE as a free read on Audible. 

If you enjoy historical romance, I suggest SINFUL SEDUCTION from Luminosity, set during the American Revolution, or HIGHLAND HEART, historical romance set in England and the Scottish Highlands in 1745 at the time of the second Jacobite Rebellion.

 Books I have recently read that I enjoyed and will recommend are:

Helene Wecker’s THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI, a very original historical fantasy set in New York in 1899. A sequel has just been published and I look forward to reading that as well.

For mystery, I can recommend several novels.

 BAIT AND WITCH by Angela M. Sanders features a librarian who comes into her magic abilities. I especially enjoyed the clever humor. A sequel will be published soon. 

THE GHOST AND MRS. McCLURE by Alice Kimberly was the first in a series of haunted bookstore mysteries—also clever and entertaining.

A mystery thriller I just read and consider well-written is
THE QUIET GIRL by S. F. Kosa, a first novel. 

For those who enjoy short story collections, I recommend SMALL CRIMES IN THE BIG CITY by Steve Slavin. If you liked Seinfeld, you’ll love this clever book.

 For romance, I’ve been reading Lisa Kleypas’s Ravenel series and Mary Balogh’s latest Regency romances. Both are excellent writers in this genre.

For non-fiction, I recommend MARCEL’S LETTERS: A FONT AND THE SEARCH FOR ONE MAN’S FATE. This is a powerful and touching real-life book. 

Each of the books I’ve recommended are ones I have read and reviewed in Goodreads. 

There are many fine writers who should be added to this list. As a reader and/or writer are there any authors and/or books you would like to recommend for summer reading? 

You are most welcome to recommend your own books as well so others will become aware of them!