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The Making of The Americans Are Coming
The making of The Americans Are Coming didn’t just happen overnight. In fact, this book has been simmering for several years. I have taken countless classes through Romance Writers of America and my local group, Heart of Carolina on everything from Horses in Literature to Writing a Historical Novel. I have also been focusing more on the cozy mystery aspect of writing. I have really enjoyed following YouTube Author, Jane Kalmes aka Fiction Technician. Jane had a mystery writers’ course recently I really wanted to take but with my responsibilities with the Pamlico Writers’ Group and the Heart of Carolina, the timing didn’t pan out. But I am really thinking about taking it the next time she offers it.
The kernel of an idea came about thanks to my husband, actually his grandfather. In our home that burned David had a whip that once belonged to his grandfather who’d been a performer in a wild west show. When I heard the story, I knew one day I’d write a character who was a performer in a wild west show. Incidentally, David’s grandfather did an act where he snapped quarters tossed in the air with his whip.
Winnie’s name took several metamorphoses. I originally planned to name her Willowmina but since I used Willow in my contemporary story, Willow’s Retreat, I did not want to confuse myself more than normal. Keeping my characters’ names straight is almost as bad as keeping my children’s names straight. Unfortunately, readers don’t like it when you call the role in a story. My kids probably don’t like being called by the other’s names either but oh well.
Winnie, a nickname for Winona, and Harry her love interest were inspired by good friends I’ve known since my childhood, the parents of one of my dearest friends and school mates. They also became close with my youngest son when he began working with Mr. Harry at the museum. Our backyards connected and so much of our lives intertwined. They always seemed to have a good time together and made being around them fun. I couldn’t think of a better couple to inspire my young sleuths.
As the story came together, Winnie became half Lakota and as I began describing her appearance, I used my granddaughter Phalha to help me get an image of the character. You can see a slightly younger version of the character and Phalha in the original artwork painted by Susan McIntyre. Sue used photos I had of Phalha to create the cover of the book. While Phalha is half Cambodian, not Lakota, looking at pictures of Lakota women, I felt she closely resembled them and gave me a more personal connection to the character.
Since I am not a horsewoman, I needed expert advice to help me flesh out my character as Winnie is a trick rider and caregiver to the animals. I turned to another of my granddaughters, Hailey. Hailey is an accomplished horsewoman who trained her horse Cooper whom others felt was untrainable. Not only did she train him, but she’s won countless awards with him. Hailey answered all of my crazy questions and she inspired much of Winnie’s relationship with her horse and the other animals.
My grandsons Psi and Jack were great about helping me with Riley and Harry, inspiring looks as well as some of the fun things they do from the inventions to their reactions. My husband and my sons were also on hand to answer questions about ‘would this work?’ It’s great to have people around who know things or are willing to research them. My husband has become my accomplice on many of my adventures from helping me plan my murders to planting evidence. If our family decides to turn to crime, it could be bad…really bad.
A lot of research went into this story but I’m sure I didn’t get everything just right. I mean sometimes you have to bend things to get the story to work the way you want it to work.
I am so thankful for my friend Cyn Hayden who gave me information on steamer ships for that one little piece I needed to make the story believable. The ending wouldn’t work without it.
I am also thankful for my local library and the women who work there: Robina Norman, Denise Toler and Myra Shields. These ladies are great at finding things I cannot find online. They are my research assistants, my Beta readers and proofreaders. I cannot thank them enough for always supporting me. They have hosted my book signings and even suggest my books to patrons.
I have several Beta readers who make the story better, stronger, less filled with errors. I said less errors, not error-free, I still manage to get a few of those, sorry. Everyone who reads and gives me feedback, everyone who reviews the stories, they all help me make a better story and I appreciate all the love and support, the encouragement and the occasional kick in the butt I need to get these stories done.
The cover design is by my friend and fellow Pamlico Writers’ Group member, Sue McIntyre. Sue is the author of a memoir, Outside Heaven: An Afghanistan Experience and she is also an artist in residence at the Lemonade Gallery in Washington. She has done two paintings for me for this novel. The first based on a photograph I sent her with just a few ideas. I loved it but as I was finishing The Americans are Coming, I realized I needed to represent the main character better. Since she was half Lakota, an obviously white woman would not be representative. I also wanted the first book to give more of the feel of the wild west show. Using photos of my granddaughter, Sue did a lovely job of depicting Winnie.
While she is younger on the cover than in the story, I still feel it is a great depiction of what the beginning of the series is about. Winnie isn’t exactly innocent, her life even before joining the wild west show was hardly easy, nor was she protected from the harshness of life. But Winnie’s outlook is one of hope and love. Everything she does from trying to solve the murder to breaking up her father’s relationship with one woman and pushing him into a relationship with another, is about love and hope for the future.
The Americans are Coming is a murder mystery, but it also has romance, family drama, friendship and a view into living together harmoniously with diverse characters. Fiction should entertain but it should also make you feel something. I hope when you finish this book you feel the connection and understanding I was trying to convey. Happy reading, y’all.
Print books are suppose to arrive today but they won’t have this cover. If you want books with Sue’s original artwork, they are available at Amazon, and I hope to have them available elsewhere very soon.
I’m here with L C Larsen the author of the new novel, Some Men Deserve to Die. Lars is a member of the Pamlico Writer’s group. After years of working as a doctor and instructor, why would you embark on yet another career?
Lars: I had wanted to write a short novel for about two decades before I retired because of the joy I’ve experienced from reading them during times of stress during my life and career. I mean, we all have difficult times in our lives or times when we’re just overwhelmed and there’s no better way to escape those pressures than to curl up in a chair and read a good novel. I retired and decided to try writing a novel and, hopefully, provide some happiness to my readers. It also would provide a meaningful project I could work on with my adult children—I spent so much time working as a physician that I hadn’t worked with them as adults on any projects where we could function as peers, to interact as equals and strengthen our relationships accordingly. However successful the novel turns out commercially, the final outcome in that regard has been fantastic.
Sherri: That wonderful Lars. My husband and sons have all helped me with my novels and it’s so much fun being able to share our passions and learn from each other.
What genre is your new novel?
Lars: Murder mystery, with a physician-detective protagonist. It could also be classified as “murder mystery adventure.”
Sherri: Why did you choose to write a murder mystery?
Lars: I have always enjoyed classic murder-mystery stories, those with thoughtful and observant protagonists like Hercule Poirot and Sherlock Holmes. As a former physician with roughly four decades of clinical experience caring for patients from all walks of life and hearing their deepest secrets, I felt my medical knowledge and insight into human behavior would provide a solid foundation for weaving an interesting story about the worst of crimes, about killing a person, and how possibly to get away with it.
Sherri: Tell me something about your main character, Jack Damen, that is not in your book?
Lars: An important aspect about Damen that’s not explicit in the book is that while he’s different from the great majority of readers, he is similar in a very human way: he’s flawed with a dark side but works hard to overcome it and be productive in his life. Also, he has done terrible things in his life and has sought redemption but it seems to escape from him time and time again because of the choices he makes, as it often does for many of us. I named my self-publishing company, Three Choices Press, after that phenomena: we all make choices, some good and some bad, and many times we make choices that don’t neatly fit into either category but work out for us nonetheless.
Sherri: How did you come up with your title, Some Men Deserve to Die?
Lars: I’ve always been an observer of people and their actions. As a physician and in my non-medical life, I have witnessed firsthand the depravity in humankind’s soul; in my experience, it’s been primarily in males.
Sherri: How long did it take you to write this book? What was your process?
Lars: Five years, writing two hours daily, five days per week, nine months each year. The best time for me to think and write creatively is in the morning after breakfast before reading the news or being distracted by anything else. I have a comfortable chair in our family room where I would sit with my “lap desk” and laptop, coffee on the side table, and go at it until mentally exhausted about two hours later. That’s also the maximum amount of time I could isolate myself from Pat, my wife, without negatively affecting our relationship.
Sherri: In crafting your characters, do you fashion them on people you know?
Lars: No, not really, not on individuals I’ve known. All of my characters are blends of people I’ve met or observed with imaginary attributes I assign to them for their roles in the novel.
Sherri: What do you wish you’d known before publishing this book?
Lars: How difficult it is to be a creative writer and how long it would take to write this novel. I had done a fair amount of scientific and academic writing in my career but transitioning to creative writing was the hardest thing I’ve done since medical school. The first three years of writing this story were trial and error, learning my mistakes and studying to correct them. Coupled with the time and mental effort required each day to just “put the story down on paper”—conceptualizing scenes and typing them—it was a major challenge but one I enjoyed as I progressed through the process.
Sherri: What do you hope to do different with your new book?
Lars: The plot will be better established before I begin writing. In Some Men Deserve to Die, I initially formulated the beginning and end of the novel but the body of the story and its characters evolved as I wrote it. Also, it was designed to be the first in a series of Jack Damen books so writing the sequel should be easier now that the characters have been developed. In fact, I’ve already determined a plot for it—so exciting!
Sherri: What would you tell a new writer?
Lars: Be prepared to work twice as hard and long on your book as you anticipate and be prepared to learn unexpected things about yourself, aspects of your personality that will help and hinder your creative writing. For me, having had narrow focus and linear thinking allowed me to be successful as a physician, but these are traits I’ll always have to compensate for as a creative writer.
Sherri: What character was the most difficult to write? Which one was the easiest?
Lars: My protagonist, Jack Damen, was the most difficult because his personality is so multifaceted. Also, I wanted readers to discover more about him as the novel progressed, personal traits that would resonate with them. I felt really good when one reader sent me a letter with their revelations about him.
Dr. Michelle Lewis was the easiest because I’ve known so many people like her: really smart southern women who’ve been underestimated because of their genders and communication styles.
Sherri: Is there a scene you removed from the final edit of the book? Why did you take it out?
Lars: Yes, I removed a scene about an abusive, alcoholic father and his subsequent relationship with adult children. I took it out because one of my preliminary readers felt it cluttered up the plot. It was a powerful segment, though, and I’ve saved it for a sequel.
Sherri: Did you do the publishing yourself? Was it difficult?
Lars: I did the publishing myself through KDP Amazon. It wasn’t difficult but learning how to do it took quite a bit of time. KDP provides a software tool, Kindle Create, that can be downloaded onto your personal computer along with a working copy of Pride and Prejudice that you can practice on—editing, formatting, etc. After that has been mastered, you enter your manuscript into the software, edit it, and upload the final product into the KDP server. Choosing a book cover is the final step, one made easy by software on the KDP server. Having already done it, I feel it will be a piece of cake the next time around.
Sherri: Thank you for stopping by and sharing your story.
Available in Kindle and paperback formats at https://Amazon.com
My website is www.lclarsen.com
My business email is email@example.com
My business page on Facebook is L.C. Larsen (found most easily in Facebook by searching my username: L.C. Larsen@ThreeChoicesPress)
My time with my agent ended somewhat abruptly. At first, I was devastated and depressed, but I soon realized she’d done the right thing. For whatever reason, we’d not found our comfort zone with each other. Trust and good communication are extremely important when working with an agent, publisher or editor. I believe it is necessary to have mutual respect and a similar vision for the work.
While I respected my agent, I’m not sure we were on the same page with where the manuscript was going. It was that doubt that marred the tenuous relationship we were building and resulted in the termination. I am thankful for my time with her. I learned a lot. I believe she helped me hone my craft and see my work through different eyes. It was her insight that brought me to the conclusion, Chrome Pink isn’t a romantic suspense.
As a member of Romance Writers of America and my local chapter, I believed myself to be a romance writer. Now, all of a sudden, I have to face the fact that while the romance is an integral part of the story, it is not the only part or even the most important part of the story.
I recently had a discussion with a friend who is struggling with her own story, a beautifully written paranormal with strong romantic elements. When I first joined RWA, they were more inclusive, any story with romantic elements was considered a romance, even if it also fit into other genres. Now, the criteria for a romance has become more specific and several friends who write romantic mysteries or suspense or even historical romances, find they don’t quite meet the strict expectations of a traditional romance.
A romance novel isn’t formulaic any more than a mystery or suspense is, but readers expect certain things to happen within a short amount of time. If the couple doesn’t meet within the first dozen pages and the relationship isn’t established by page fifty, is it a romance? This is what I, and many of my colleagues are facing. It has also brought into question our future in RWA. Is there still a place for us? But that is another article.
With the increased activity of Indie Publishing, being a romance writer or not, matters little. It has freed those of us who were tethered by convention to spread our wings and write the stories that are in our hearts.
Chrome Pink may not be a typical romance, but to me, it is a romantic story. I hope you’ll give it a chance.
Katharine Ashe writes the books that keep me up until two in the morning trying to convince myself that just one more chapter and then I’ll go to bed. She crafts characters that make me laugh and cry and fall in love. The Prince Catchers Series is awesome, three orphaned sisters and their stories beginning with the middle sister. Arabella Caufield who feels it is her responsibility to find out who their parents were. “I Married the Duke” pits the flame haired governess against the handsome captain she fears may be a pirate. She is so close to fulfilling her destiny, to meet and marry a prince. But falling into the arms of a pirate captain thwarts her plans as her heart tangles with his and their futures and pasts collide. The truly heroic characters Ms. Ashe pens are the friends we’d all like to have, those with a willingness to sacrifice everything for each other. Arabella fits into this league of honor with her willingness to face her greatest fears for love.
In “I Adored a Lord” Ravenna is thrown in front of a prince to see if he might be the one the gypsy lady told them about who would lead them to truth about their parents. Thought to be part gypsy herself, Ravenna is a healer and good with animals. She never expected to fall for a great beast, at least not a two legged one. But when she is thrown into a murder mystery with the prince’s man Vitor, she uncovers many other mysteries, among them the feelings aroused simply holding hands with a man. Never have I read anything more erotic than the sensual description Ms. Ashe wrote of a young girl’s first experience of what it is to hold a man’s hand. Ravenna doesn’t do things like most women, she is more comfortable in with animals than people. As the sister-in-law to a Duke she is getting ready to lose her position and is at a loss to what her future holds. Her feelings towards Vitor frighten and confuse her but like all truly heroic, it is not the absence of fear but the ability to continue amid the fear. A man divided by two families and two countries, a woman who doesn’t know her family or her country except the ones she has chosen for herself, together can they make a home of their own?
Happy endings, when it seems like it is almost impossible, Katharine Ashe brings us what the heart desires. For books that will make you fall in love all over again, read The Prince Catchers Series and don’t forget the novella “Kisses, She Wrote” the Christmas novella.