Write Like a Mermaid — Guest Shari Randall

By Shari Randall, who is celebrating publication of her new book, Against the Claw.

Shari is giving away a copy of Against the Claw to someone who leaves a comment! Here’s a little about the book:

Welcome back to the seaside village of Mystic Bay, where someone’s been found sleeping with the fishes. . .Ballerina Allie Larkin is still back home, healing up from a broken ankle and lending a hand at her aunt’s Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack. But now that the famed restaurant is branching out into the world of catering, Allie’s help is needed more than ever―even on the lobster boat. The last thing she expects to find once she’s out on the bay, however, is the dead body of a beautiful young woman.

When days pass and not even the police can ID the corpse, Allie takes it upon herself to learn the truth about what happened. Her investigation leads her all the way from the local piers to the secluded estates of Mystic Bay’s posh elite. But how can she crack this case when everyone seems dead-set on keeping their secrets beneath the surface?

“If you can be anything, be a mermaid.” This is one of my favorite sayings.

I named the shack in my Lobster Shack mystery series The Lazy Mermaid because I love mermaids. One of my characters collects “mermaidabilia.” I have an Instagram account where I post mermaid photos on #Mermaid Mondays. It’s fun to see who else has a mermaid obsession.

It’s also fun to see how mermaids can help plot a book.

I was shopping for swag for a Facebook party when I came across this great pen. It’s the Mermazing ™ What Would a Mermaid Do? Predict-a-Pen. It’s a much sparklier version of a Magic Eight Ball, but instead of answering questions it offers advice.

The pen has been helpful as I write. Not only are the predictions good life advice (well, maybe “crash a ship” isn’t a good idea in real life) they’re great suggestions for a writer.

Here’s some writing advice from the Predict-A-Pen:

Pose on a Rock – I translated this into “showcase your character” – let the characters show the reader who they truly are – good and bad, fins and scales.

Make Friends with a Crab – Good advice. Every protagonist needs a friend, a sidekick to share the adventure and watch her back while swimming with sharks.

Brush Hair with a Fork – Okay, I had to give this one some thought. It’s a pretty funny image. Perhaps the magic pen is telling me to add some humor?

Grow Legs – As we all remember from The Little Mermaid, this was a turning point that changed the trajectory of Ariel’s life. For my writing purposes, it means take a chance, do something bold – even if it turns out to have life altering repercussions for my characters. We all like to see characters grow and change, especially if that growth comes from lessons learned by making mistakes and owning up to them.

Fall in Love with a Pirate – A little romance, especially with a dashing partner will add spice to a story.

Crash a Ship – Okay, very bad nautical advice, but great writing advice. Big conflict, disaster, and drama keep readers turning the pages.

Readers: Anyone else love mermaids? Or have a slightly embarrassing obsession?

Shari Randall lives in a mid-century money pit on the Connecticut shore. When she’s not committing murder (on the page, of course) she enjoys dancing, reading, and volunteering at her local library. You can see what’s new with her at https://us.macmillan.com/author/sharirandall/.

After The Contract — Guest Shari Randall

The winner of Wednesday’s giveaway is Shirley! Please contact Sherry at sherryharrisauthor@gmail.com

I met Shari through the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime. Shari is one of those people who you feel immediately comfortable with. Maybe it’s because she’s a former children’s librarian. She is the first of three guests who will be talking about their experiences since they’ve sign a book deal but whose books aren’t out yet. Shari’s first book is set to come out in March of 2018.

Many thanks to Sherry and the Wickeds for the invitation to chat about What Happens After the Contract.

When I signed my contract with St. Martin’s Press for the Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack Mystery series my first thought was – all that paper! While I was wading through it I gave thanks for the many friends who helped make that moment possible.

After the contract…and the champagne….and chocolates…and celebration…and congratulations… It sank in. I faced that empty page. Now I have to get to work.

So I did two things. Then I realized something and did one more.

One, I kept writing.

lobsterbuoysandmeTwo, I did a Lobster Shack Tour. My Number One Fan and I hit the road, researching (okay, eating) at lobster shacks from Noank to Woods Hole and beyond. Except for Maine. I’m conceding Maine to my esteemed fellow lobster lady, Barb Ross, and her Maine Clambake mysteries.

For many years I’ve seen so many author friends juggle writing their books with all the other things that are expected of a modern author: blog tours, giveaways, publicity, appearances, marketing. I realized now that all that was my job, too. I saw the difference, to me, between being a writer and being an author. Let me explain.

Writing is the nuts and bolts, the craft, getting words on paper. That’s what the writer does.

Being an author. Ah, that’s different.

Before I signed my contract, my mental image of “author” was a fantasy formed by episodes of Dynasty and Murder She Wrote. Instead of the reality of hours of butt-in-chair in book jail, my Fantasy Author Self was at signings, dressed in flowing scarves and jangling bangle bracelets. My sparkling laugh – very Mary Higgins Clark or maybe Joan Collins – floating over hundreds of fans sipping champagne, where every detail of the event has been arranged by my fawning publicist, a George Clooney lookalike named Charlton. My fantasy agent says things like “After the twenty-state tour, you’re going to Canyon Ranch for a vacation, I insist” and “Lucas wants the film rights! Streep wants to play Aunt Gully!”

But then I wake up.  Arranging booking signings will be my job. Writing blogs will be my job. Marketing will be my job.

This realization brought me to the third thing I did. I learned as much as I could about what is expected of an author, by asking questions, doing research, and taking classes. One of the best classes was Simon Wood’s 21st Century Author, which I took online through the SINC Guppies. Simon explained the many requirements of the 21st century author – creating a persona, using social media, publicity, marketing. Exhausting, but necessary.

Where is Charlton when I need him?

There is no Charlton.

So as I go back into book jail to work on Book Two, I still give thanks for that contract. But now I know that writing the book is just the beginning.

Readers: What experiences have you had that were different than you thought they’d be?