Missy Jenkins Musical Mysteries
|Posted on June 3, 2018 at 8:08 PM||comments (133)|
ARE YOU A PLOTTER OR A PANTSER?
What does that mean? To a writer, it describes how you go about your writing process.
A “plotter” means that the writer starts by making an outline before the first sentence of the novel is written. She knows how the story starts, where it’s going and she knows the ending. She knows every character, what they’re going to do, where they’re going and when. Sure, once and a while she might change her mind and stray from her outline—she’s not inflexible, after all—but there will still be a revised outline and a clear ending in mind. For some people, that works. For some, that’s too restrictive.
A “pantser” is a writer who “flies by the seat of her pants.” She has an idea for a story, starts writing, and lets the characters and the story take her where they will. It’s fun, it’s creative, and it works. Most of the time. Sometimes you can write yourself into a corner. Sometimes you can go off on tangents. But the creative freedom the pantser enjoys far outweighs, for them, the plotting and organizing that the plotter goes through prior to putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).
Whichever type of writer you are, each has its merits and there are excellent authors from both camps. As writers, we all have our preferences, and we all agree—whatever process works for you is the right (write) one!
|Posted on September 28, 2016 at 11:41 PM||comments (93)|
Missy Jenkins is a piano teacher who lives in the small community of Twin Pines, located on the outskirts of Middletown, Pennsylvania. She is in her thirties, married to a construction worker and has two young boys. The Missy Jenkins musical mystery series is set during the late 1970s so the music that weaves throughout the series includes disco, rock and classical themes. Missy teaches her students, and her readers, bits of musical history and trivia along the way.
Every protagonist needs strengths and weaknesses, and for Missy, her character strengths are also the flaws that get her into trouble. She cares about her friends and neighbors, so she feels the need to help them. Whether they want her help or not. She gives piano lessons to most of the children and teenagers in Twin Pines, so she knows everyone. She can't stop herself from getting involved, so sometimes she ends up knowing too much. And that can lead to danger . . . or murder.
|Posted on June 14, 2016 at 12:30 AM||comments (87)|
The second book in the Missy Jenkins musical mystery series, "Death in 3/4 Time," takes place in December of 1979. The following excerpt is from Chapter One:
The sparkle of ice on the bedroom window softened the deep blue of the winter night. She glanced at the clock on the nightstand. Two a.m. With her husband on a business trip and her teenagers spending the night with friends, this was her opportunity to indulge her secret passion for ballroom dance.
Taking a deep breath, she inhaled the cool, clean pine scent of the Christmas garland looped around the upstairs bannister. Lilting strains of a Strauss waltz played softly as the woman's slippered feet slid noiselessly across the hardwood floor. Head tilted to one side, embracing an invisible partner, she glided to the rise and fall of the waltz rhythm. One-two-three, one-two-three. Her heart soared with the freedom the music instilled in her. As she twirled, the pink chiffon skirt of the ball gown swirled out like an airy puff of cotton candy, then settled back around her shapely calves. The neckline was adorned with marabou feathers that fluttered gracefully in time with the rhythm of her movements.
Behind her, the lid to the chest containing her ball gowns was propped open. Once, long ago, she thought she would become a dancer. But her husband scoffed at her love of dance, suppressed her joy. Her children who used to prance around the house with her as toddlers, ridiculed her as soon as their father's influence took hold. For many years she gave in and gave up. Now, with only a few weeks remaining of 1979, a new decade promised a fresh start for her. She had finally found the self-confidence to live the life she wanted, not what others demanded of her. She had shared her secret with someone she could trust, and a weight had been lifted.
She thought about the wasted years. A rollercoaster of emotional highs and lows had marked her married life. Marital bliss had soon eroded into lies and infidelity. When her son was born, she devoted herself into becoming the perfect mother. After her daughter was born, a failed suicide attempt sent her to the psychiatrist who prescribed the drugs that had ruled her life since then. Manic-depressive, the doctor called it. Looking back, now that she no longer relied on the pills to get her through the day, she realized how overcompensating and overprotective she had become.
A loud noise jolted her out of her reverie. What was that? She turned off the music and listened intently. Nothing. The old feeling of paranoia welled up inside her. No! She closed the lid of the chest holding the gowns and waited. The hall was dark, the house bathed in silence. A few months ago, she would have said that withdrawal symptoms were making her imagination run wild. But not any more. She definitely heard a noise. She started down the stairs.
|Posted on June 6, 2014 at 1:20 PM||comments (73)|
The first novel in the Missy Jenkins mystery series, TERROR IN DOUBLE TIME, is finally published on Amazon, Kindle and in print version. Look it up by title at either the Amazon or Kindle sites to buy it, or for a signed book, email me at [email protected] and I'll send an order form.
I'm especially excited about the cover photo because it's a snapshot I took in 1978 before the Three Mile Island accident. I was driving up the same stretch of road that I describe in Chapter One of the book, when I thought, "What an awesome view" and stopped the car to take that picture. I never imagined it would become not only historically important, but inspirational in my future as a writer.
Those of you living in the area today are familiar with the two stacks of Unit One sending billows of steam into the atmosphere. For one short year, between March 28, 1978 and March 28, 1979, those of us living near Three Mile Island watched the four giant towers in full operation. Some of us thought the nuclear power plant was the best thing to happen to our community; when the incident occurred, they still did not panic. Others thought it was an accident waiting to happen as soon as it went online, and when the incident did occur, were the first to point fingers. Still others had no opinion, or were in favor of the power plant, but when the incident occurred, panicked and ran. The best stayed calm in the face of emergency and helped others, no matter what their personal opinions. I hope I tried to portray all of these different reactions to a very difficult real, historical situation, which I used as a backdrop to the fictional situation I created with my mystery. The juxtaposition of a real-life TERROR with a made-up TERROR and a musical theme and a protagonist who is a music teacher is what led me to the title of the novel: TERROR IN DOUBLE TIME.