Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Probably, I should throw in a palm tree or two. on this post. (In fact, I'm throwing in pre-pub cover art of my novel that I'm working on. Murder Visits Antigua and the research thingy is tough duty (she says, tongue in cheek.)
Along the way to finding out what was happening on a Caribbean Island in the 1930s for my Golden Age Mystery novel, I've had wonderful adventures. They included finding out from a taxi driver the name and phone number of a retired Leeward Island Police Commissioner. Then calling him up, finding his house in a tiny village and interviewing him.
Can I use the material in other ways besides lending authenticity to my novel's characters and setting? You bet, I can. Now here's where "focus" or lack thereof, comes in. I'm focused on the history and current times of Antigua, but I'll use the material in multiple ways.
For example, I'm also working on an article now for the Caribbean Trvel and Life magazine and am looking for more travel-related markets. http://www.carribbeantravelmag.com/ I have found out so much that would be of interest to other travelers, historians, archeologists and other interest groups.
It has to be the best of all worlds to be a writer and to have the epiphany: I'm looking through a multi-facted prism that glitters with multiple opportunities for writing and publishing my researcht in different venues.
Yahoo! It's a great life.
Wite on, my friends!
P. S. Check out my mock book cover pix.

Sunday, August 26, 2007




Was It Hard Work? . . . You Got to Be Kidding!

Mystery Visits Antigua is a Golden Age Mystery featuring Aunt Amelia Winthrope. Am I ever having fun with this character!

I've done a pre-pub/pre-promotion cover with story overview that is uploaded. I used it in my interviews and contacts when in Antigua this month. I found that having the visual piece helpful to those I interviewed. They opened up more to my questions, gave me some wonderful referrals to folks that would have specific information about a place or time or event.

I've included below an update on my Antigua trip, and a bit about my "research" trip to the Caribbean Stonhenge. I hope you enjoy it. And, out of this trip, came an invitation to attend the Antigua Literary Festival held the first weekend in November.

Well, of course, I'm going, and I'm psyched. There are some wonderful literary Caribbean authors who will be speaking and attending. I feel priviliged to be asked.

So, friends, read on, and I hope you enjoy.

Yours in the mystery of writing and of life,


The trip? It went well--how could a person say otherwise? Fun thing going up to the Caribbean Stonehenge, although little of that site is left now. It's fast eroding because it isn't a priority for being maintained. For my last few trips to Antigua, one of the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean, I've been asking and asking to go up to the site with our Antiguan friend, Wayne. He acts as my kind of "minder" while I'm on the island.

The megaliths are on Green Castle Hill, about 600 ft. high with a vertical grade of 35-40 degrees in places. And it's above a stoney masonry factory that is busy carving out the limestone and volcanic rock that will end up in fences around expensive resorts and compounds. So, they often are blasting at the hill/mountain. At any rate, one of the villagers from Green Castle, Bonehead (true name) led the way with Wayne and me following. Lots of lemon grass, whipping ankles and legs, rutted trails, shale and loose rock. I made it about 7/8's of the way, the wind was gusting about 35 knots, and there was no protection from it. I had to stop. The guys went up to the top and took pictures for me.

The way down was harder, and the men held my hands as we slipped and slid down the mountain side. I had this idiotic picture in my head of looking like a debutante, hands outstretched on either side to a "gallant" escort, who helped me down steps, as I swept regally into the ballroom. The guys did hold my hands, but I was sweating, slipping, sliding, and they were, too. Hair hung in my eyes, cap half off. All, in all, I was not a pretty sight.

And then we had to cross paths through a potholed field with a bull who didn't look too happy to see this sweating, redfaced lady encroaching on his turf.

Then had an interesting session with trying to get a diabetic testing kit that I ordered for a retired Leeward Island Police Force commissioner. He couldn't afford one, so I had my son Stateside buy and FedEx one to my attention. (Things have a way of not getting to people in the small villages in any timely manner). Finally ransomed the diabetic kit from customs and took it to my friend, who also is vetting my manuscript.

Let me tell you, power in developing countries, is with the individual holding the rubber stamp--seal of approval. Never have any doubt to that. Had to have five sets of papers, rubber stamped in order to get that testing kit "free at last." My friend has the kit and all is well.

Truly, I had a marvelous time, a learning one, and I'd sure do it all over again.

BTW, I was asked to come back in November to attend the Antigua Literary Festival. It is primarily for Caribbean authors and this is the second year that is has been held. My WIP, Murder Visits Antigua, plus my story published on Amazon Shorts, "Antiguan Memories," makes me eligible to be invited.

If anyone has the time, please check out the story. It costs 49 cents from Amazon. And, I need more reviews posted on it. Write me off list, if you'd like a copy to peruse. The story is speculative fiction:

Set in the 1930s on the Caribbean Island of Antigua, a disillusioned Anglican priest,

a mute Antiguan young man, and the spirit of a murdered slave girl--all seek release

from their captive states.

Friday, March 16, 2007

ERIN GO BRAGH! (Ireland Forever!) or . . . HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY

It seems only fitting to run a contest this month of March, when supposedly some forty percent of the population in the U.S. claim Irish heritage! Undoubtedly, there will be much wearing of the green and toasting with Guinness tomorrow on the 17th.

Some of you know that my sleuth Bridget O'Hern, is named after my great-grandmother. She came from Ireland, on the border between County Wicklow and County Tipperary. Supposedly, family lore, don't you know, says that she was a senachie, a story teller. It's my hope that some of that quality runs in my blood and in my protagonist's too. I do have this fictional Bridget O'Hern, just a little bit fey from her grandmother. It helps her intuition when solving crimes.

Now as to the contest . . . please go to my website at www.patriciaharrington.com. You can opt in to my very occasional newsletter list, AND, you can enter a contest. Simply write in one or two sentences "Why I read mysteries," and send me the answer. Your name will be put into a box and the winner randomly chose. The winner will receive a free, autographed copy of DEATH COMES TOO SOON.

There's no loss, no harm and no foul to this contest . . . but some fun for both of us.

Remember, go to www.patriciaharrington.com. Details are there, and click on the links to my books there for a pix of Death Comes Too Soon.

Yours in mystery,


Sunday, March 11, 2007


Words are my bread and butter, that is as a grant writer and a mystery author, words are the means by which I put that sadly forbidden--but desirable--food on my table!

Words elicit, conjure, bring up and invade the mind with images. Words trigger feelings and emotions. Try the word "rotten." Betcha that you'll think of it and mentally add, "apple," and have a visceral reaction about rotting fruit or a bad person.

Word choice, the preciseness of the word in the context of its surroundings of sentence and paragraph, are important. Probably, that's why some of us--make that "me"--tend to rewrite a sentence many times to get just the right fit.

Here are some very helpful links to word lists, where a "word" a day is provided. I've found that reading these commentaries has helped me enrich my vocabulary, clean up some misconceptions about a word's meaning, and given me starter ideas for stories.

Here are a few of my favorites:

http://wordsmith.org/awad/ Provides a word a day with various meanings and origins.
http://www.word-detective.com/ Sends a word a day with a humorous take on the word and its meaning.

And, for the children's authors, don't forget the wonderful book by Alijandra Mogilner Children's Writer's Word Book, with gives word lists, grouped by grade levels for K-6.

Yours in mystery,

My children's mystery story, "The Case of the Purple Hands," features the Stanley Street Irregulars, a trio of fifth-grade, multicultural sleuths. It will be in "Stories for Children" in April.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


I just finished watching one of my all time favorite movies, Casablanca.

Probably everybody knows the story line:

Rick, the cynical and jaded nightclub owner had a love affair with the beautiful, blonde Isla in Paris, while her husband, Victor Laszlo, is detained in a concentration camp. He is a suspected French freedom fighter. Upon his release, Victor and Ilse make their way to Casablanca but need letters of transmit to leave the country. Rick is able to secure those letters, through his connections. Ilsa is surprised to run into Rick in Casablanca and feels her love for Rick rekindle. She believes that she and Rick will leave, and her husband stay to fight the Vichy. Rick, however, plays honorable and ensures that Ilse and her husband depart on the plane and he stays behind.

In the end, the good guys win out, and the music fades away.

There are two lines from the movie that are burned into the memory of every woman over 18 who has watched it: "Here's looking at you, Kid," and "We'll always have Paris," spoken by Humphrey Bogart as Rick.

The movie was made in 1942, and 65 years later, it still has appeal. Those quoted lines are frequently used on quiz shows because the words are imbedded in our cultural memory (thanks to reruns on TV and DVD).

So, are there lessons to be learned from this movie for writers of the short story or novel? The sentences are brief: five words in one and four in the other.

How is it that they carry so much weight, have so much impact?

Sure we have the benefit of two people looking soulfully at each other, Ingid Bergman as Ilsa has tears shining in her eyes as she turns away from Rick to leave. But I think the lines are memorable because they summed up the plot and Rick and Ilsa's relationship. Rick's cynicism is thin covering for his love and commitment. They--and his sacrifice--are all conveyed in those few words, "Here's looking at you, Kid."

We read what we need as observors, as voyeurs wanting to be in that place. Our reactions may vary, but they are felt deeply, we are touched in some visceral way.

And then there is, "We'll always have Paris." Simple but conveying so much, a heartful of memories, never to be experienced again, never to be forgotten.

Lesson here, I suspect, is to have the relationship and character of your story's players build incrementally and consistently, so that a few words by them speak volumes, leaving the reader satisfied, nodding and thinking, "Well done."

Yours in writing,


Monday, February 12, 2007


One of the adages given to authors is "write what you know." That's an interesting concept for the mystery or crime fiction author. How many of us have committed the kinds of mayhem and skullduggery about which we write? Very few, I hope. On the other hand, all of us in this creating game--and the human race in general--have experienced the array of emotions and feelings that could have led us to do some dastardly deeds.

The three-legged stool that mysteries are set upon (and that I wrote about elsewhere here on the blog) are plot, character and setting. Plots are the story, of course, what happens and why. However, stories are only interesting if the characters are ones that readers find intriguing, appealing or else so loathsome that the reader wants to see the person get his or her comeuppance.

Consequently, the author has to consider carefully the nature and personalities of the story's main and secondary characters. Some advice that I was given has proven helpful in making sure that I stay true to my story's characters and their personalities. I write down each character's internal conflicts that drive him or her. Then I determine what are the likely external conflicts that would trigger an appropriate action or reaction.

This character list that has the internal and external conflicts identified is very useful as I write the narrative. For example, if a poor self-image and resulting feelings of jealousy are Susan's internal drivers--ones that trigger her to act irrationally, for example--then knowing that helps me to have Susan react appropriately. I can use her in settings and sutations to move the plot along and make the story more dynamic.

The character conflict list doesn't have to be elaborate, but it is fun to do and useful. And again, both the primary and secondary characters should be on it. It does save time later on because the characters are like buddies or acquaintences, where you can roll your eyes, and say, "Yeah, I know just how she's going to react in that situation."

I suppose the seven deadly sins could be a good starting place to start the laundry list of your characters' internal conflicts. You can always branch out, refine and move into the venal sins, I suppose . . .

Hope this might have been useful. If so, drop me a line and let me know.

Yours in mystery,