Saturday, March 29, 2014

Snowshoeing in Summit County

Here's a photo of my intrepid snowshoe group, the "Women With Altitude," from our 3 mile hike that we took this morning. I'm in front with a purple hat and blue fleece top and my black jacket around my waist. It was a warm, sunny day, so we were shucking layers as we went.We made a loop out of the Miners Creek Trail and the Frisco end of the Peaks Trail behind the Summit County Senior Center in Frisco, Colorado. The views were terrific, as was the weather!

Monday, March 03, 2014

Blog Changes

I just finished updating my reading list of blogs that I follow here at Blogger. I was saddened to see how many blogs had been shut down in the past year or so. They included blogs by mystery authors or groups of mystery authors, mystery review blogs, river rafting blogs, and more. I ended up deleting at least three dozen from my reading list!

That's not to say that blogging is dead. I'm still following at least three dozen blogs, which are still going strong with many readers. And, I'm sure there are some new blogs out there that I should be following. If you read my blog regularly, you know my interests. If you think there's a blog I should be following, please give me the link in a comment.

Now, on to changes for my blog. Like many bloggers who have been blogging for many years, keeping this blog going is becoming a real drag on my time, time that I'd rather spend doing other things. So, I will no longer be hosting mystery author guests here. Instead, I'm returning this blog to its original purpose, as an extension of my website. It will be personal, for those who want to know more about me and my interests. Unfortunately for my blog readers, though, I won't be posting as often as I have in the past (my goal was at least three posts a week). Now, I'll only post when I have something interesting to share. I hope you'll still stop by here occasionally to see what I've been up to.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Moose on the Loose

This morning, I went over to the Breckenridge Nordic Center to snowshoe twice around the Willow Trail loop (5 kilometers total). I ended up having to vary my plan a little, snowshoeing until I found two moose, then because I didn't want to pass right beside the moose, retracing my steps back to the beginning of the trail at the Nordic Center. Then I snowshoed in the other direction around the loop until I reached the two moose again and turned around. I did manage to take a photo of the moose (see below) with my new-to-me iPhone 4s that I'm learning how to use. The moose didn't seem to be very concerned about the Nordic skiers and snowshoers who happened by, but none of us were going to take the chance of getting too close for their comfort.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Competing in the Summit County 50+ Winter Games

Last week, I took part in the Summit County 50+ Winter Games. Eighty-five athletes aged 50 to 85 competed in twelve events spread over two days. I competed in four events: Giant Slalom, Rally Race (ski around gates to match a time, not go the fastest), Obstacle Course (ski under, over, around and through obstacles), and the Short (1 kilometer) Snowshoe Race. I'm very pleased to report that I medaled in every event I entered! Three gold medals and one silver. Some photos are posted below.

Here I am (on the left) at the end of the snowshoe race with two fellow competitors.

Below is a group photo of the alpine event competitors. I'm second from the left, sitting on the floor.

And, here I am with medals spread across my chest with my husband, who had more competition from fellow men in his age category, so he only won one medal.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Engineering a Mystery

Today I am a guest at the blog for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. My topic is "Engineering a Mystery." I hope you'll take a look and leave a comment for me there to let me know what you think.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Splendid Reviews for A Basket of Trouble

I'm as pleased as punch about the latest reviews that have come in for my latest release, A Basket of Trouble, the third book in my Claire Hanover gift basket designer mystery series. I hope those of you who read my blog but haven't yet had a chance to read this book will pick it up and read it. If you like it, please spread the word like Kait and Julie did!

Four stars from Kait Carson on Amazon, January 6, 2014:

Claire Hanover is at it again. She pledges to help her younger and rather insecure brother and sister-in-law make a success of their recently purchased trail ride business in the Garden of the Gods. When a charismatic trail ride leader is found trampled to death it threatens the business. Who wants to risk riding a killer horse? It also opens the door to overt jealousy on the part of competing, but well established riding firms. In true Groundwater tradition, the book combines human potential and growth with the hot button issue of immigration reform all wrapped in a solid and seamless mystery. This is a book that sneaks up on you from behind. It's a quick and easy read, but the story and the characters are unforgettable.

Five stars from Julie Lence on Goodreads, February 1, 2014:

Beth Groundwater's third installment of the Claire Hanover mystery series, A Basket of Trouble, is a fast-paced, enjoyable read. Set near Garden of the Gods Park in Colorado Springs, the story centers around the riding stable Claire's brother has just opened, which is great for me because I love anything to do with horses and cowboys! Immediately following the opening of Gardner Stables, one of the trail riders turns up dead. Soon after, another ranch hand is killed, putting into motion Claire's sleuthing skills.

Ms. Groundwater has woven a clever whodunit. She has brought back some memorable characters from Claire's first mystery to aide Claire in determining who the killer is from a colorful list of suspects. With a few twists and turns, and more insight to Claire and her personal life, A Basket of Trouble will keep you guessing until the very end. And if you're fond of horses, you'll fall in love with Gunpowder from the start and champion him throughout the story. I look forward to the next installment of Claire's mystery series.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Today's Mystery Author Guest: Kwei Quartey

As promised yesterday, fellow mystery author Kwei Quartey is visiting my blog today, with answers to my interview questions. To read his bio and see his photo, please page down to yesterday's post. Also, Kwei is running a contest for a free autographed copy of the upcoming March release in his Inspector Darko Dawson mystery series, Murder at Cape Three Points. Kwei will select the winner tomorrow evening from among those who leave a comment today or tomorrow and will announce the name in a comment on this post.

In the book, at Cape Three Points on the beautiful Ghanaian coast, a canoe washes up at an oil rig site. The two bodies in the canoe—who turn out to be a prominent, wealthy, middle-aged married couple—have obviously been murdered; the way Mr. Smith-Aidoo has been gruesomely decapitated suggests the killer was trying to send a specific message—but what, and to whom, is a mystery. The Smith-Aidoos, pillars in their community, are mourned by everyone, but especially by their niece Sapphire, a successful pediatric surgeon in Ghana's capital, Accra. She is not happy that months have passed since the murder and the rural police have made no headway.

When the Ghanaian federal police finally agree to get involved, Detective Inspector Darko Dawson of the Accra police force is sent out to Cape Three Points to investigate. Pretty as the coast is, he is not happy to be sent away from his wife and two sons, the younger of whom is recovering from a heart operation. And the more he learns about the case, the more convoluted and dangerous it becomes. Three Points has long been inhabited by tribal villages of subsistence fishers, but real estate entrepreneurs and wealthy oil companies have been trying to bribe the tribes to move out. Dawson roots out a host of motives for murder, ranging from personal vendettas to corporate conspiracies.

Sounds like a very intriguing read to me! Below are Kwei's answers to my interview questions.

1. Who or what inspired you to start writing and when did you start?

I started writing novellas when I was eight or nine years old. My parents had hundreds of books at home, fiction and nonfiction. I read voraciously, and I loved mysteries—both adult and children’s. I don’t know what made me want to write like those authors, but I did. Film actors tell how as they watched movies as kids, they thought to themselves, “I want to do that.” It was the same for me, but with books.

2. What tools and process do you use to “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?

I keep writing the character, and like in real life, he or she begins to develop and grow on me. Sometimes they “do stuff” that surprises me. The suggestion I’ve heard of sitting down to make a detailed sketch of every character—age, appearance, likes, dislikes, marital status, etc.—seems wrong to me. The character is going to evolve in the novel in any case, so I don’t waste time trying to box him or her into some pre-defined state. If we met people and immediately tried to confine them to our first impressions, we would miss the opportunity of getting to know them. Don’t box your characters in.

3. How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?

I have to write an outline because the editors want to see one. For instance, Soho Press editors are lining up their 2015 schedule right now, and they would like to see what I have for Darko Dawson #4 (I’m hoping to send them something in about 2 weeks.) There’s no “should” or “should not” about an outline, but it doesn’t hurt. It’s like standing at the top of a valley you’re about to explore. You don’t know the details of what’s in the valley yet, but it’s useful to see the lay of the land.

4. In the age-old question of character versus plot, which one do you think is most important in a murder mystery and which one do you emphasize in your writing? Why?

Character first, plot second. What makes your blood boil or puts a smile on your face? People and what they do. Same with a novel, mystery or otherwise. If plot was the more important, mystery writers could all just write a narrative synopsis showing the brilliant plot and publish that. Thirty pages and you’re done.

With Wife of the Gods, my first novel, readers never said, “Omg, what a plot!” No, they talked about the characters and why they behaved the way they did. What I love about book clubs, which are almost invariably 99 percent female, is that women love to discuss characters in the novel. I often hear readers give an insight into a character that never even occurred to me.

5. What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?

Getting published—tough slogging. But I’m stubborn, and there’s something about me that makes me even more determined when someone tells me “no.” I don’t like no.

6. What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?

I wake at 5 AM to write, occasionally earlier. I am worthless late at night unless I’m on deadline. I’m still practicing medicine full time, but in 2014 it’s likely that I will cut back my practice to three 10-hour days. I can’t sustain the same “double career” that I have done heretofore because the writing demands on my time are greater and greater. It’s no longer just the novel-writing itself. It’s blogging, writing articles, travel, events, and so on.

7. What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?

1. Love writing for its own sake.
2. Have a crazy desire to create a story and a crazy desire for people to read it.
3. Remember that criticism is an opinion. I had a UK agent tell me years ago in the snootiest tones possible that, “Two places no one wants to read about: Africa and Afghanistan.” That was before the million bestselling No. 1 Ladies Detective series, set in Botswana, Africa, and the international mega-bestseller The Kite Runner, set in Afghanistan. Look, the fact is, sometimes people just don’t know what they’re talking about, so be tough.
4. But don’t be a jerk either. There are really good people in the business, and they deserve respect.
5. Don’t say to people, “I have an idea for a novel,” and then regale them with the plot. Get cracking with writing it and stop sharing it. It’s no good in your head. It needs to be written. Don’t give your drafts to friends, family, lovers, spouses and the like to read and critique unless they’re editors or phenomenally successful authors. People think they know writing the same way they think they know medicine.
 6. If you get stuck on a plot point, give it a night’s sleep. The solution may come to you during sleep. The subconscious needs time to work and not be bothered by the often overbearing conscious self.

8. Now here’s a zinger. Tell us something about yourself that you have not revealed in another interview yet. Something as simple as your favorite TV show or food will do.

I’m terrified of possums, but I like snakes. 

9. What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?

Even as I promote Murder at Cape Three Points, I will be writing my 4th Darko novel, tentatively called Gold of my Fathers. I’d like to put out a couple of e-novellas as well, but I'm not sure if I will have time.

10. Is there anything else you would like to tell my blog readers?

It would be great if you could sign up on my blog email list. I try not to overdo it and don’t send out blogs more than once every couple weeks or so. But since I’m going to Ghana in February and will be doing some exciting stuff like visiting a deep-sea oil rig, it might be fun to read about my exploits. I’m always getting into something with a little hint of danger. You can see the blogs I wrote about illegal gold mining in Ghana, the topic of the next novel.

Try reading the first two Darko novels, Wife of the Gods and Children of the Street, before Murder at Cape Three Points. Although not absolutely essential, it’s best to do it that way so you can establish the background. Please also check out my e-novella, Death at the Voyager Hotel. This is a very quick and easy read, perfect for a plane flight.

I am most available for book clubs, and I enjoy them. Along with my website, you can find me on Twitter.

11. Anything else?

I recently learned from fellow writer Mukoma wa Ngugi, a professor at Cornell, that he uses Wife of the Gods in the course he teaches on crime writing, along with Walter Mosley’s and Sara Paretsky’s novels. I was thrilled and humbled.

Thanks, Kwei! Now, who has a comment or question for Kwei Quartey? Good luck in the contest!