Archive for June, 2008

A wonderful partnership

Posted in All posts, Life, On writing with tags , , , , , , on June 29, 2008 by Trina

Have you ever had a terrible day at work–one so bad that you wanted to walk away and never return? What makes that day different from any other? For a young math teacher who has difficulty dealing with unmanageable students, it is the pervasive influence of her own childhood in “The Mulberry Tree.”

I used my experiences in the classroom as the backdrop for “The Mulberry Tree,” which is in the summer 2008 issue of CHIRON REVIEW, a literary magazine published in Kansas. (For those of you who don’t live in Kansas, information to order a copy or subscription of CR is below).

And now I’ll finally get to the topic of this blog. The publication wouldn’t have happened without my husband, Harry Calhoun. When I first clicked on the CR Web site, I was less than impressed. But Harry assured me that CR is a well respected literary magazine, just not willing to spend $ on the site. Because I trust him, I submitted his favorite of my stories to CHIRON. Now that I’ve read the latest two issues I have to agree–the magazine and contributors are impressive.

Harry and I are both in the summer issue. He has two poems and two book reviews. One of his poems in CR, “My Wife as Wine,” is one of my favorites. And why not, it is about me. It is so fun to be published together. We also received our acceptance letter in the same envelope. See previous post. It has been exhilarating taking this ride together.

I got the idea for this blog when I sent out a note to a friend who wrote back and said, “Congratulations, Trina! That’s wonderful, and especially so because of the shared honor with Harry. What a wonderful partnership you two have.”

I realized that she is right. Harry and I have a wonderful partnership that goes beyond husband and wife or friendship. We have the common interest of writing and spend much of our time discussing the various projects we are working on and the intricacies of the written word. I value Harry’s opinion of my work–which occasionally leads to some heated discussions. But, Harry has never led me astray, so I listen to him. We use each other as a sounding board for ideas and for polishing our finished work. I read Harry’s monthly wine column before he posts it and he almost always incorporates my suggestions. I read the book reviews he sent to CR. I thought one of them was too harsh, so he revised it.

So the publication of “The Mulberry Tree” came about as a result of my partnership with Harry. We may never again get an acceptance in the same envelope or be published in the same issue of a literary magazine, but I will always remember this experience.

I would also like the thank the members of Raleigh Area Women Writers, who helped me improve the story from its original version.

You can subscribe to CHIRON REVIEW at:

522 E. South Ave.
St. John, KS 67576

$16/year for 4 issues.
Or you can purchase the summer issue for $7.00.
Ask for the “Triple S” discount for students, seniors and starving artists.

A good thrill

Posted in All posts, On writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 7, 2008 by Trina

After last posting that I like to read, I thought I’d dedicate this post to my favorite writers. During my teenage years, I read romances and watched soaps. Eventually, I grew bored. Real life is not the happily ever after of romances, and I wanted more from the books I read. I discovered horror: Stephen King, and werewolf and vampire stories. I began to enjoy the excitement of a good scare. I also began collecting the works of Lawrence Sanders, Grisham and Crichton. After watching SILENCE OF THE LAMBS I realized that I liked psychological thrillers. I read the Hannibal series by Thomas Harris. Harris did such a good job developing Hannibal’s character that I found myself being repulsed and empathizing with Hannibal at the same time and wanting more. And so began my relationship with fictional serial killers and their catchers.

I also stumbled upon the genre of medical thrillers, thanks to Michael Palmer. The combination of medicine, science and suspense makes an awesome read. Looking for more medical thrillers, I discovered Tess Gerritsen. Gerritsen is one of my favorite authors because of the rich characters she creates, normal and flawed people who are interesting because of it. She writes from the point of view of killer, detective and medical examiner equally well. I especially like medical examiner Maura Isles’ character because she must deal with death on a daily basis, and yet is likable as a woman with insecurities like the rest of us. What I most like about Gerritsen is that she fully develops the autopsy scenes to give the reader medical details not found in any other thrillers I’ve read except for the work of Kathy Reichs.

Reichs’s series is fascinating in its detail. How Tempe Brennan can discover the age or race of a skeleton and more from just bones. Tempe’s character is also fully developed. Reichs does not, however, write from the killer’s point of view. Her pov character is always Tempe. But it works for the series. Reichs also uses humor to lighten up the heavy topics Tempe deals with, which makes an entertaining read. I like BONES, the TV series loosely based on Reich’s books. I say loosely because Television Tempe is completely different from the alcoholic divorcĂ©e with a twenty something daughter from the books.

In terms of humor, JA Konrath is the king. I discovered his detective series with star Jack (Jacqueline) Daniels after reading one of his short stories in a thriller anthology edited by James Patterson. I bought WHISKY SOUR, read it, and then bought the next three books. I laughed my way through all four books, one right after another. I didn’t want to stop to sleep, eat or work. Konrath’s is the only series I read straight through like that. He doesn’t skimp on the details. One killer drove nails into the bones of his victims, one peeled off the victim’s skin, all while the victims were alive. One scene that sticks in my memory is when one of the killers put razor blades into candy bars. The resulting scene after a detective bit into the razor blade was both graphic and humorous. The humor lightens the story and works with the graphic scenes in this series. I’ve preordered the fifth Jack Daniel’s book and can’t wait to read it.

Lucas Davenport is my favorite detective. I love John Sanford’s PREY series. In the introduction to RULES OF PREY Sanford said, “Cops don’t act like Lucas Davenport–they’d be fired or even imprisoned if they did. They aren’t rich, they don’t drive Porches, most could give a rat’s ass about fashion. Lucas Davenport does all of that. … he’s a cross between a cop and a movie star. I wanted him to be a star. I wanted him to be different. I wanted him to be a mean, tough cop that women liked.” Sanford succeeded. Davenport is a star. He’s gruff, mean and yet he’s likeable and sexy. But more importantly, John Sanford’s writing is stellar. I’d rank him with literary writers. He is a former Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, and it shows in his writing. He also draws from his experiences as a newspaper reporter, the dead bodies and crime scenes he witnessed ground his novels in reality.

I like David Baldacci for the same reason, the way he can string words together. I am in awe when I read his novels. His recent works are political thrillers that are well researched, interesting and powerful. His latest, THE WHOLE TRUTH, explored one possible scenario for the return of the cold war.

I would be remiss not to mention James Patterson. I like detective doctor Alex Cross almost as much as Lucas Davenport. The African-American psychologist detective raising several children alone in DC makes for great reading. The Cross novels are page turners. Patterson’s works may lack the depth of Gerritsen and Sanford, but I can always count on him for a good thrill.

I have only mentioned some of my favorites writers. There are many others, like Diane Chamberlain, who does a fantastic job writing about the interrelationships between people. I am happy to have such a vast selection of great literature to choose from.

Here’s to summer reading and staying cool. Temps should reach the triple digits in Raleigh this afternoon. I can’t think of a better way to spend the afternoon than sitting in the air conditioning with a good book.