Meeting Author Sarah Graves at The Eastern Most Point in the U.S.

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Back in 2007, my wife and I were on one of our trips to Maine. One of our stops was a day trip to Eastport which we learned is the most eastern point of the United States. It’s a neat little town and upon our arrival came upon an unexpected surprise.

Strolling down Water Street, the seaside town’s main street, you get a beautiful view of the Atlantic, and New Brunswick, Canada across the waters. As we walked along we came across S. L. Wadsworth and Son, a local hardware store. There’s nothing special about it except that along with the usual hardware items you’d expect to find in a hardware store window there was a collection of paperback books for sale. The books are all by one author… Sarah Graves. Neither my wife nor I could claim familiarity with Sarah Graves or her work. Avid readers, we went inside and checked out the books. It turns out Sarah Graves is a mystery writer! Perfect!

Both of us are always willing to check out an author new to us so we purchased two paperbacks. The woman behind the counter asked if we would like to meet the author and have her autograph the two books. Seriously? In a hardware store? We willingly agreed and followed her to the back and up a circular staircase (being a reader of mysteries and suspense my mind quickly began to churn wondering, for a moment, if would be the last time anyone will see us alive!) At the top of the stairs, sitting at a desk we were introduced to Sarah Graves. She greeted us and thanked us for buying her books. We chatted for a few minutes; she signed the books and posed for the photo above.

We left with our new books, happy with the chance encounter, a pleasant surprise and an unexpected treat to our trip.

Sarah Graves is Eastport’s local celebrity and like her fictional home repair sleuth, Jacobia (Jake) Tiptree is a home fixer upper. Both are ex-New Yorker’s and both Sarah and the fictional Jake frequent the hardware store.  As one would expect Sarah’s books do well in town with the locals and bring plenty of tourist to the area.

My Writing Process

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My next collection of short stories is beginning to take shape. I have five stories completed and there are a couple of others I am working on. I don’t know how other writers work, but I need to work on one story, stop, begin another, and then go back to my first story. This process refreshes my head, gives me time to think up new possibilities and ideas that I previously did not. Sometimes it turns my story in a completely new direction.
I generally write best in the morning hours, and do revisions, later in the day. The kitchen table is my office, though sometimes I pick up my laptop and work from a comfortable chair.
I want to hear from others. What is your process, work pattern, what are you working on, etc.?

Inspiration

After recently watching James Cagney in the 1931 film, The Public Enemy, I was inspired to begin work on a new short story. It was one of the film’s most famous scenes and lines uttered by the actor that caught my attention. Badly shot after a shootout, Cagney as Tom Powers, comes out of a storefront carrying two guns. He staggers down a rainy dark street. Just before dying and falling to the ground, he mumbles his  famous line, “I ain’t so tough.”

My story deals with a small time local hood on the run from the cops, after catching his girlfriend in bed with another guy, and shooting them both.  At this point in time those famous last words are the title of my story, but that could change as the tales evolves. Inspiration can come from anywhere.

Below is the famous scene from The Public Enemy.

 

Favorite Quotes on Writing

Twelve favorite quotes on writing from ten authors I admire.

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There is only one plot – things are not what they seem. – Jim Thompson

Truman-Capote

You can’t blame a writer for what the characters say. – Truman Capote

elmore-leonard

If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative. – Elmore Leonard

Kurt-Vonnegut

Every sentence must do one of two things: reveal character or advance the action – Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Edgar-Allan-Poe-Charles-Smeldon

A short story must have a single mood and every sentence must build towards it.  Edgar Allan Poe

I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat. –  Edgar Allan Poe

Block

One thing that helps is to give myself permission to write badly. I tell myself that I’m going to do my five or 10 pages no matter what, and that I can always tear them up the following morning if I want. I’ll have lost nothing—writing and tearing up five pages would leave me no further behind than if I took the day off. – Lawrence Block

King

When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done. – Stephen King

If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write – Stephen King

laura-lippman

There’s always time to read. Don’t trust a writer who doesn’t read. It’s like eating food prepared by a cook who doesn’t eat. – Laura Lippman 

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The more your reason, the less you create. – Raymond Chandler

Parker

Sure, I have advice for people starting to write. Don’t. I don’t need the competition. – Robert B. Parker