Can Delphie Beauchamp, a Texas born research librarian fresh from a break-up with her two-timing boyfriend, help best friend and newly elected Chief of Police Em Landry, solve a double homicide in the old Mystery Bay Cemetery? Chief Landry needs Delphie’s help in solving the murders, along with determining why specific graves from the early eighteen-hundreds have been vandalized. Her canine best friend in tow, a twenty-two-pound dachshund named Huckleberry, Delphie heads for the tropical island of Mystery Bay, Florida where she begins a journey that includes a pinch of gold, a touch or romance, and a wallop of ghosts, in a race to solve the mystery, of the Mystery Bay Hotel.
The smell of the ocean, crisp and briny like a jar of pickles, held just a hint of murder in the air. I picked up my luggage from the small carousel inside the terminal and opened the glass door of the Mystery Bay International Airport. The sultry, mid-October sunshine hit me all at once, along with the sweet fragrance of the red, frangipani trees that bordered the edges of the sidewalk. Amazing how paradise was just a plane ride away.
“God, what a beautiful day.” I dropped my suitcase on the pink-hued coral sidewalk and pulled out my sunglasses. Before I could slip them on, Huckleberry, my twenty-two pound, red Dachshund whined for me to take off his winter sweater. Poor little guy. The outfit worked great for the chilly October weather in central Texas but not the south Florida humidity.
“Sorry, Huck.” I unhooked his leash and pulled off the sweater. Stretching out his long body, Huckleberry trotted over to the nearest hibiscus bush and hunched over. Seconds later he sighed in relief.
I coughed and fanned the air. Guess he wasn’t that hot in his sweater after all.
Guest post from the author.
Craft vs. Creative Talent
Craft or creative talent was a burning question that was asked in many of the creative writing classes I attended when I first began to write. The instructor would begin the class by asking if a person could learn the craft of writing well enough to write a great book, or was creative talent the main factor in getting a book on a best sellers list regardless of how well the book was written?
For clarification, let’s get a few definitions going, so we’ll have a better idea of the two before we make a choice. Merriam-Webster defines the word “craft” as “an occupation or trade requiring manual dexterity or artistic skill.”
The word “talent,” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a special ability that allows someone to do something well.”
Something to ponder, correct? If you had to choose between the two, which one would you pick? One of the best classes I’ve taken for learning the craft of creative writing began with a simple exercise. The exercise? Write down twenty things that must happen in the book. Simple, right? But wait. There was a problem. How do you know what twenty things to choose for your book? Is that a function of craft or creative talent?
Once you decide on the twenty things, then the trick is to arrange them into a well-written, attention-grabbing, heart-pounding novel that involves sub-plots, character arcs, scene arcs, dialogue that rings true and forever changes the reader.
Again, craft or creative talent?
One of the arguments I’ve heard in favor of creative talent, is that a spectacular story can override a book that might not be quite as well written as it should. The reader may have to struggle over improper grammar or sentence structure, weak plot or character development, but if they can do that, a page-turner could reside within that manuscript. Of course, one can also argue that a well written book may be so well done that it leeches any creativity out of the story line and leaves the reader dissatisfied without knowing why. I find each of these arguments to be true, although both leave something to be desired.
When a reader decides to pick up our book, or download our e-book, we, as writers, are asking them to suspend their reality for a time and come into our world. They are trusting us to provide them with an experience that makes it worth their time, and money. When we don’t live up to their expectations, then we fall short as writers and leave them feeling disappointed and disjointed. It’s not a good feeling, and something I don’t care to experience myself.
So, what is the answer? For me, it’s caring enough about your work as a writer to provide the best experience possible for your reader. It’s making sure you learn the craft of writing to turn your creative talent into an impossible to put down novel. It’s taking the time to do the job right, without any shortcuts. In other words, it’s combing the two, craft and creative talent, as well as you possibly can, so your reader will be left with an experience that will last them a life-time.
About the author.
Marcia Spillers has been a Librarian/Archivist for more than twenty years. Currently a school librarian, she lives in Austin, Texas with her two chows, Bella and Susie Bear. Marcia spent seventeen years in south Florida perfecting her writing skills, along with completing the Writer’s Program at UCLA.