Monday, June 21, 2010

Welcome, Margot “The Mystery Professor” Kinberg

MKinberg1s Thanks Alan, for hosting me, and for asking me to talk about one of my not-so-secret addictions – crime fiction. I got hooked on crime fiction in my early teens, and I just don’t see myself going off the stuff any time soon. I also happen to really enjoy writing, so when I decided to start a blog, I knew it was going to be about crime fiction. It’s actually a little odd for me to be bogging here about my blog, since I’m really rather self-conscious about it. There are so many wonderful blogs out there. But, here goes…

When I started my blog, I have to admit I had an ulterior motive: my  own writing. I’d made the decision that I wanted to really focus on my writing. I’d had my first novel, Publish or Perish published, and I was working on B-Very Flat. I knew that social media like blogs are good ways to spread the word about one’s writing, but at the same time, I didn’t want my blog to be all about my own novels. That can get very tiresome. I don’t like tiresome. Readers don’t like tiresome. Besides, lots of other people have written crime fiction that’s so wonderful I could only dream of being that good. So I decided my blog would be about all sorts of crime fiction, not just my own. So now you know the story behind Confessions of a Mystery Novelist.

Once I started blogging, I found I loved it. I’ve had the real honor of befriending people from all over the world who read and write crime fiction and are nice enough to chat with me about it. And I get to think about and write about crime and mystery fiction, which is, well, it’s fun. So to those of you who are kind enough to stop by and comment when you do, thank you. I learn from all of you.

Alan asked me to talk a little about how I choose topics and books and so on for my blog. As I was thinking about how to describe what I do, I realized I feel a little like Agatha Christie’s Ariadne Oliver. In Dead Man’s Folly, she’s thrilled to get out of a speech she’s supposed to give entitled How I Write My Books. Here’s what she says about it:

“I mean, what can you say about how you write books? What I mean is, first you've got to think of something, and when you've thought of it you've got to force yourself to sit down and write it. That's all. It would have taken me just three minutes to explain that, and then the talk would have been ended and everyone would have been very fed up. I can't imagine why everybody is always so keen for authors to talk about writing. I should have thought it was an author's business to write, not talk”

That said, though, I don’t just randomly sit down and write. So here, in case these ideas help folks who may be thinking about starting a blog, is how I do what I do:

First, the idea…

I like blogs best that are focused on one idea per post. I suppose it’s a matter of taste, but I learn most from blogs that focus on one main theme, idea, question, etc.. So that’s what I do with my own blog. I get my ideas from lots of places. One of my favorite places to get ideas for topics is from other blogs and from comments on my own blog. I frequently start thinking about something once I’ve read someone else’s blog post, or a comment I read. That’s one of my favorite things about the “blog-hopping” I do.

Another place I often get ideas is from books that I happen to be reading. Crime fiction books all have so many terrific themes, topics, ideas, characters, and so on that they’re a rich source of inspiration. So when I’m reading a book, I’ll often tap it for blog ideas.

And now for my other source of inspiration: music. If you stop by my blog, you’ll notice that I often use the title of a song, or a line from a song, as the title of the post. Music’s a very big part of my life, so when I hear a song, I sometimes think, “That would be a great idea for a post!”

I’ve got other places I get ideas, too. I sometimes even use things that happen to me personally as inspiration. I think a person can find inspiration for writing from lots of different places, and, as corny and cliché as it sounds, I like to be open to inspiration where I can find it.

Next, the books….

Once I have my idea for what to write, I think about other books I’ve read that have something to do with the idea I have. There’s no magic to that, really. I’ve read a lot of crime fiction books, like everyone else who’s a crime fiction fan. So I think about books I’ve read. I often catch myself thinking, “Didn’t Colin Dexter/Agatha Christie/Michael Connelly/Barbara Vine/Someone else write a book where X happened?” If I remember the story well enough, I make a note and gather other relevant stories. If I don’t, I go back and look at the book if it’s one I have. If it’s one I borrowed from the library, I go there. This part of what I do is fun because I get to renew my acquaintance with books I haven’t read for a while. The good folks at the local libraries I use have gotten to know me : ).

As Forrest Gump says, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

…and the picture, of course…

I also take a ‘photo for each blog post. I like that part. It lets me be creative in a fun way. I’m proud of most of those pictures, actually, ‘though I say it myself.

And then, the writing…

Once I have everything together, I write my blog post. That’s the “paw-work” that takes the least amount of time. Unless there’s a technology glitch of some kind, and that does happen.

So there you have it. That’s how I do what I do online. Nothing magical or mystical about it. It’s just something I love to do. I’ve been honored and flattered that people have commented on my blog and have encouraged me to put those blog posts together in book form. As you may (or may not) know, I’ve decided to do just that. Right now, I’m working on my third Joel Williams novel, and I would like to get that done. I am hoping that later this year, I’ll get to work on a book tentatively called The Mystery Professor’s Guide to Great Mysteries (thanks, Alan, for that title!). When it’s ready, I’ll let everyone know. For now, though, I have some heavy dates coming up with Joel Williams ; ). B-VeryFlatCover1

If you’re interested in Joel Williams and life at fictional Tilton University, you can find details about Publish or Perish here, and B-Very Flat here.

Thanks again, Alan, for your hospitality! I promise I picked up the towels off the floor.

 

 

Margot – Thanks so much for visiting today! I know all my blog readers will be fascinated by the process you go through writing your amazingly insightful blog posts on Confessions of a Mystery Novelist. And thanks for tending to your towels!


Share/Save/Bookmark

21 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Alan - Thanks very much for hosting me : ). I am honored, and I appreciate it very much.

Bernadette in Australia said...

You make it sound so simple Margot but I guess that's what the masters always do - make the difficult look easy. I am in complete awe of your thoughtful, insightful and knowledgeable posts and if I don't always comment it's because my brain isn't nearly as fast as yours. But rest assured I read them all and often re-visit them and think about them long after you've moved on to thinking other brilliant thoughts.

I think it was Kerrie from Mysteries in Paradise who first recommended your blog to me and I was wary for exactly the reason you mention (an author blabbing about their own books can only go so far) but I was immediately hooked by your very non BSP-y blog. I also love your musical quotes (I often click over to my iTunes library and play the relevant song after I've read your posts) and your photos too.

I still don't know where you find the time to do it all but I am glad you do :)

Margot Kinberg said...

Bernadette - *blush* Thank you so much for saying such nice things! You really are awfully kind. Your comments mean a lot, especially coming from someone who's as well-read as you are, and whose book reviews are superb. Folks, if you aren't familiar with Bernadette's wonderful blog, Reactions to Reading, it's a wonderful addition to your blog roll.
I'm glad you like the musical part of my blog. I have to admit I have a lot of fun with that, too : ). And thanks for reading my blog : ).

Jan Morrison said...

Hi Margot - this was a wonderful explanation of why and how you do what you do so well! I also love your blog title/music references. And, she says modestly, I almost always know the reference. ahem.
I don't always comment because of my own mad schedule but I do want you to know that I enjoy reading your well put together essays on the world of mystery writing!

Margot Kinberg said...

Jan - Why, thank you! You're very kind. And no need to be modest about knowing the music references I make, I respect people like you who know a lot of music.

Ingrid King said...

How nice to see you over here, Margot. Loved this glimpse into how you create your blog posts. I've particularly enjoyed your song titles as post titles!

Mason Canyon said...

Alan, thanks for hosting Margot.

Margot, it's fun to find out how you come about your post. I so love the idea of a book compiling your blog post and that's a catchy title for it. Best of luck on your tour.

Mason
Thoughts in Progress

Margot Kinberg said...

Ingrid - Thanks : ). I'm happy to be here, too, and some of the most fun I have is when I get inspired by song titles and lines : ).


Mason - Thanks : ). But I give Alan total credit for that title; ain't it great!?!

Elspeth Antonelli said...

Thanks for giving us a glimpse into how you create your incredibly knowledgeable blog posts! I'm another one who loves your music titles and I usually know the reference. Usually. I'm constantly astounded at the depth of your knowledge of the crime fiction genre.

Margot Kinberg said...

Elsepth - You are far, far too kind *blush*. I'm glad, too, that you like those music titles. Nice to know that they do more than just amuse me ; ). Folks, don't let Elspeth's modesty fool you; she keeps a tremendous blog on what it's like to be a writer. Check it out here Um, please check it out on Thursday, too, as I'll be guesting there.

Dorte H said...

I second Bernadette´s comment. But what I *still* don´t get is that you have time to write them *and* have a life :D (And I know you drink lots of coffee, but so do I).

Margot Kinberg said...

Dorte - You are very, very kind. That one's harder for me to answer. I just, I suppose, make the time. I know, not a very clear answer... And folks, Dorte's excellent blog, DJ's Krimiblog, is a wonderful resource of fine reviews, interesting updates, and stunning 'photos, as well as the Global Reading Challenge. And Dorte's not only a blogger, she's a talented writer who blogs and writes in two languages. And she asks how *I* do it? ; )

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Your *memory* is what amazes me. It seems like the more you're putting in your brain (via books), the more you're *retaining*. That's just completely the opposite from my constantly leaking brain!

I love the behind-the-scenes look at how you construct your posts. :) Thanks for posting and thanks to Alan for hosting.

Margot Kinberg said...

Elizabeth - Thanks for the kind words : ). It's an odd thing, memory is. Sometimes I can't remember to buy the milk that I went to the grocery store specifically to buy. But crime fiction? I remember that. Wei-r-d.

And folks, please, please visit and learn from Elizabeth's award-winning writing blog, Mystery Writing is Murder. It's a truly rich, fun, helpful and supportive resource. If you're a writer, this one needs to be on your blog roll.

Alan Orloff said...

What a great post, Margot--thanks so much for stopping by today on your tour! And thanks also to all the great commenters today. I think I'm going to have to invite The Mystery Professor back real soon!

Margot Kinberg said...

Alan - Awww, thanks! You're a terrific host : ). In fact, I'm hoping that I can send you all my friends and relatives who want a wonderful place to stay while they visit D.C. Can I give them your name? ; )

Alan Orloff said...

Sure, Margot, you can give them my name. It's Grisham. John Grisham.

Clarissa Draper said...

Wow, Margot, you sure do a lot of work. And it shows. I love your photos...I can tell it's your post immediately. What creativity you have.

CD

Rayna M. Iyer said...

Margot, you make it seem almost easy, but I have to tell you that every one of your pieces is a masterpiece. And after following your blog, I am getting more out of my books!

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

It’s interesting finding out how other bloggers get their ideas. You do make it sound easy. I’m wondering how much time goes into one blog from idea inception, research, writing and actual posting?

Margot Kinberg said...

Clarissa - You're very kind! I appreciate it. I can't help it; I love what I do...


Rayna - *blush* Thank you! That makes me so happy to hear that you get more out of what you read. I love crime fiction, so if someone learns from what I've written, I am ecstatic! You've made my week!


Jane - I like to know how other bloggers do what they do, too. I really do. As to how much time? Depends on how quickly I get my idea. Hmmm....usually about 45 minutes to an hour to gather everything together and get things written if I have all of the books I need at home. It's longer if I have to go to the library. Anywhere, really, from 45 minutes to about 2 hours, usually. But that can vary.