Thursday, February 16, 2017

Blogging is Murder - Guest Post and Review

Today I'm super excited to welcome Gillian Baker to the Library to talk about her book Blogging is Murder and where she got her inspiration and how she made her character, blogger Jade Blackwell, come alive.  My review is right below it and I hope you enjoy this post as much as I enjoyed reading Gillian's post and the book itself!

Gilian Baker on Plot and Characterization Inspiration

Readers are always curious about how their favorite authors come up with their ideas, and though we don’t want to give all our secrets away, most authors are willing to divulge a little about their writing inspiration. Katherine graciously invited me to talk a little about how I came up with the characters and plot for my new book, Blogging is Murder, the first in the Jade Blackwell Mysteries series.

Jade Blackwell, my protagonist, started to develop in my mind about 15 years ago when I got the idea that maybe I could write cozy mysteries like the ones I loved to read. But it took years before I had the nerve to start putting it on paper. Jade never gave up though. She was like a ghost appearing occasionally to remind me that she wanted me to tell her story. She eventually got her way.

The impetus to write Blogging is Murder was NaNoWriMo 2014. I needed a creative outlet for the stress and frustration of life as a blogger. I just started writing. In the original draft, the reader meets former college professor turned blogger Jade in her home office, which was a natural place to start. After that, I let the story flow through me. I’d write for at least an hour early each morning and found myself thinking about plot twists and possible characters while worked my day job.

After NaNoWriMo, the story sat for almost two years. Even though I loved writing it, I had too much “real” work to do. But late in 2016, I decided to throw in the towel as a blogger and try my hand at writing fiction. I’d never forgotten the thrill of it. No other “job” compared. So, I dusted off Jade’s first sleuthing adventure and started where I’d left off.

I tried to outline the rest of the story, but I just sat staring at the page. It’s like I had to wait for the characters to tell me what came next. I now know this is called “pantsing”—where you write by the seat of your pants instead of planning everything out. I’d jot down random ideas that came to me as I prepared dinner or ran errands, never knowing when inspiration would strike. But when it did, I’d stop what I was doing and write, when I could. I continued to pants it, but had to go back to make many changes before it was ready to send to my publicist. I ended up cutting about 40,000 words from the original draft.

When I first started, I only knew the protagonist, the victim, the basic story about a cyber-stalker and the murder method. That was it. I’d had the idea to kill a victim with hemlock for a long time—maybe as far back as when I saw Arsenic and Old Lace on stage when I was in college.

The plot also developed through pantsing. I’d write until I couldn’t think of where to go next. Then I’d journal about it until the next idea came to me. It took me a long while to figure out whodunit. It had me stumped. That may sound funny to readers, but it was like the villain had to reveal themselves to me. And the red herrings were tough too. I used a couple of the characters I’d already written into the story as red herrings, but had to add others. Coming up with their motivation for looking guilty and why they weren’t took me several days of plotting. What fun!

So, I guess I’d have to say that my ideas started to form years ago when some strange thing stuck in my brain and kept nagging me. Then, when I needed a diversion, the Muses smiled on me and gave me the story. It really is magical. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. I’m usually meticulously organized and structured, but I can’t write fiction that way. When I try to force it, nothing happens. But when I give over to the creative spirit, that’s when the magic happens. I’ve already started giving over to the creative spirit again and am currently working on the second book in the Jade Blackwell series.

If you’d like to know who gives knocked off with hemlock and whodunit, pick up a copy of Blogging is Murder.

About Gilian Baker

Gilian Baker is a former writing and literature professor who finally threw in the towel and decided to just show ‘em how it’s done. She has gone on to forge a life outside of academia by adding blogger & ghostwriter to her CV. She currently uses her geeky superpowers only for good to entertain cozy mystery readers the world over. When she’s not plotting murder, you can find her puttering in her vegetable garden, knitting in front of the fire, snuggled up with her husband watching British mysteries or discussing literary theory with her daughter.

In her next life, she fervently hopes to come back as a cat, though she understands that would be going down the karmic ladder. She lives in Flagstaff, Arizona with her family and their three pampered felines.

Contact Gilian Baker directly at

mail to:Gilianbakerauthor@gmail.com
BLOGGING IS MURDER on Amazon
BLOGGING IS MURDER on Goodreads
GILIAN BAKER’S WEBSITE
BOOK TRAILER
FACEBOOK
TWITTER

My Thoughts:

I love a good murderer mystery especially if it's about something I am personally interested in.  So of course I had to read a book where the main detective is a blogger and the main suspect is another blogger!  When Liz's blog is hacked and the hacker shows up at her home she runs to her friend and fellow blogger, Jade, for support.  Things go down hill fast for Liz when the hacker is found murdered and Liz is the only suspect.  Anxious to prove her friend's innocence Jade gets pulled into the investigation.  
I very much enjoyed this mystery.  Jade's reasons for becoming an active participant in the investigation made sense as did the fact that witness's cooperated with her.  I liked that the police were an ally and not the enemy and especially enjoyed the new deputy, Crystal, not being quite what Jade expected.  The pacing kept it entertaining but not rushed and the investigation was well done with just the right sprinkling of clues.  There are some fun characters (I'm hoping to see more of Phyllis in the next book!) but it never crossed into over the top quirky territory.  The blogging talk was just the cherry on top as I really enjoyed watching Jade run her business and listening into her discussions with Liz.
If you're looking for a quick read with a solid mystery and likable characters this is a great choice!  At a pre-order price of $.99 you can't pass it up (find it here)  I will definitely be looking forward to reading more about Jade and her adventures and I'll be double checking next time I'm chopping up herbs to make sure they're hemlock free!  Rating: Good

10 comments:

  1. As a fan of cozies and a blogger, this sounds so interesting! I love hearing how author's get their ideas, thanks for sharing :)

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    1. Hey, Berls! Thanks for your comment. I hope reading about Jade's adventures will help you and all bloggers escape the hardships of blogging life for awhile. Hope you enjoy the book!
      ~Gilian

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  2. This definitely sounds like an interesting book. I'm going to have to add it to my TBR mountain range.

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    1. Hi, Mark. It is an interesting book, if I do say so myself. :) Hope you enjoy it once you get a chance to read it!
      ~Gilian

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  3. I signed up for the first free chapter but didn't read it yet. I heard about this author and the title through your blog, and I love the idea of a blogger doing NaNoWriMo and following through, yay! And a panster, lol, I can relate to... it's how I do my posts. I don't plan ahead-- I just let my fingers talk.

    Thanks, Katherine! I always can use more new mystery series!

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    1. It's so much more fun that way, don't you think, Rita? And I think it feels more authentic. Hope you enjoy the book!
      ~Gilian

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  4. How fun! This does sound like a must read for bloggers who enjoy mysteries. I enjoyed reading the author's story about how she came to write Blogging is Murder. It's always fun to see where author's get their inspiration. :-) Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Ideas for stories are all around us, don't you think, Literary Feline? I enjoy seeing some odd interaction between people while I'm out and about and coming up with the backstory for what I saw. :) Hope you enjoy the book, and happy to hear you enjoyed the post!
      ~Gilian

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  5. Great guest post! I'm fascinated by the idea of pantsing - just going where the creative muse takes you. :) Thanks for sharing. And it sounds like a really good book.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the post, Greg! It's weird that in my everyday life, I don't like to leave anything to chance. But when I write, I need to just go with the flow. :) Hope you enjoy the book!
      ~Gilian

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