I'm in an exciting time of life right now. There have been a few different interesting happenings this month, and I ought to bring my friends and followers up to date.
Linda of Brice's Mice Christian Book Reviews once called me "creatively insane," and sometimes, I really think that phrase fits the ideas and activities in my life, particularly the insane part.
Earlier this month, I hosted a belated birthday party for myself. I should explain that my birthday is January 9th. My birthday comes so close on the heels of Christmas that it can be tricky to make birthday plans on the actual day of my birthday, especially one as elaborate as what has become a bit of a tradition for me.
Three or four years ago, I hosted my first murder mystery party to celebrate my birthday, not with a kit you can purchase, but with one I created myself. I essentially created the game itself, not just the mystery story. Not ever having used one of those kits, I'm pretty sure my game works differently than others available. For one thing, in others I've seen, the guests are both suspects and sleuths. In mine, my guests are detectives, and my cast of suspects, this time, was made up of family members and one close friend. This friend, Lisa, who played the head housekeeper in my 1920s English manor mystery, had to be a pretty good sport, because I gave her a funny name, Miss Ellie Shufflebottom. Yes, Shufflebottom is a real name. I found it on a list of "funny British surnames."
I'm sorry to say that this photo below is just about the only photo I have of that night.
Here I am on the right, sporting my attempt at Gatsby hair. We didn't get too carried away with costumes. I didn't want to put that pressure on my guests. Lisa, in the center, was wearing a cute white apron and cap for most of the night. To the left is our friend Laura.
I was too busy hosting, and my guests were too busy running around to different rooms in search of clues for any of us to take many photos. At times, it made me think of this scene from Clue.
Okay, maybe it wasn't that exaggerated, but it did seem that guests, which were divided into two teams of detectives were fairly often on the move, either to question a suspect in a certain room or uncover a clue.
I had two decks of identical cards, one for each team. The decks were shuffled, so the cards weren't necessarily in identical order. Each turn, the team would draw a card which would either instruct them to ask a particular question of a particular suspect or go into a particular room to find a clue. All questions and answers were scripted. Scripted answers from the different suspects were also on cards and were collected by the teams for their evidence folders. Clue objects, which were marked with yellow Post-Its and numbers, were also accompanied by cards and information for the evidence folder. Sometimes, a clue information card gave instructions to search for a second clue. Does it sound complicated? It was, a bit, (but more complicated to create than to play.)
With this one, the third game of its kind, I was inspired by P.G. Wodehouse, the creator of Jeeves and Wooster, as well as Agatha Christie and other Golden Age mystery writers. There was quite a bit of humor worked into the script and story. I had my family cast members saying Britishisms like "jolly good" and "barmy" and even "what, what?" My brother Bruce had a different challenge. He played the French Chef Antoine. He struggled with the French accent but really got into the role and had a kind of Peter Sellers/Inspector Clousseau sort of French accent. He even ad libbed between his scripted lines. I caught him in the kitchen with the mortar and pestle talking about grinding up the gunpowder very fine.
I do have one other image related to my mystery game night. I created this cover art with the hope of making my game available in PDF format for sale from my website. What do you think of this idea?
On Valentine's Day, I gave a book talk at my home church to the ladies' group on my action comedy novel, Action Men with Silly Putty, which was just released to print this past December.
As the date for the talk fell on Valentine's Day, I decided to share excerpts from my book relating to the friendships and what one book reviewer called "a whisper of romance." I projected forty-three images throughout the presentation, some of which depicted an inspiration behind some aspect of my story.
Here is my opening slide.
Yes, it was a bit comical to talk about "bromance" to a ladies' group, especially one consisting of mostly senior ladies. Honestly, "bromance" isn't a word I use commonly in my own vocabulary, but I do pay attention to new and trendy words and it does seem to fit the friendship between Jack Donegal and Andy Westin.
I also showed them some slides of some fairly manly things like sports cars and robots, so I'm pretty sure I don't fit the profile of their usual speaker. (The ladies were lovely to me, really.)
|Lars, Jack Donegal's retro Volve|
What else is new? Well, I have a new mystery short story coming to Kindle soon, "The Lit Club Mystery," starring my English professor sleuth, Grace Darby. Here is the cover art for that one.
I've been ghostwriting a biography for an amazing 11-year-old girl, Paloma Rambana. Paloma is legally blind and successfully lobbied the Florida legislature for $1.25 million for visually impaired children. You can follow her on Facebook or check out her personal website. Can I just take a moment to brag on this kid? Paloma was recently awarded the Hasbro Community Action Award in New York City.
Here she is in Times Square with her image on an eight story billboard!
I have recently launched a page on Patreon, a kind of crowdfunding site for creative types. As I'm trying to transition from newspaper reporter to full-time freelance writer with some other creative initiatives, a sort of multi-faceted creative business, I thought this might give me a boost and help me fund some of my expenses to get started.
You don't need to feel pressured to donate, especially if you can't afford it. Many of my friends and followers are also writers and artists themselves. Please, do check out the page in any case. The page will mention just a few more creative plans not mentioned in this post. If you are able and do donate, I will try and make it worth your while, providing special content to patrons.
Thank you for reading as I tried to give you a whirlwind tour of this month so far. :)