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Monday, April 20, 2009

I don't have all of the answers...

but I've got a few of them. I recently came across an article in one of the online newsletters (Writers Online Workshops) to which I subscribe about the "Five Hard Questions You Must Answer to Succeed" as a writer. I pondered them for a moment and figured, what the hell, I'll give it a shot. So, here are my answers:

Five Hard Questions You Must Answer to Succeed

Who are your favorite authors and why? Lisa Scottoline because she writes about real people and real problems. She also happens to be a wonderful person and I'm truly inspired by her. Janet Evanovich because she explains things in plain English. She doesn't try to fancy it up and she knows what she's talking about. Aside from her Stephanie Plum series, I truly enjoyed her "How I Write" book and use it as a guide in my own writing. J.A. Konrath because he's a fun and talented writer who can really give you the creeps. And I mean that in the most complimentary way. Sarah Strohmeyer for making a character that is so likable in her Bubbles Yablonski books.

What do they do that grabs your attention and keeps you turning pages?
It's a combination of being able to relate to what's happening and having felt a connection to what the author is saying. Some writers grab you with their first sentence and you just know that you want to keep going. If it takes twenty pages for me to connect with a writer, then I just can't spend the time reading them.

What keeps you coming back to your favorite genres? The characters. I believe that we create a relationship with our favorite characters and we look forward to finding out what they are doing with each new story. That's what draws me to mystery series. You get to shadow your favorite P.I. or Amateur Sleuth while they figure it all out and you don't even have to dodge the bullets. It's great for those who like to live vicariously through more adventurous types.

What compels you to write fiction/ memoir/ poetry? It gives me somewhere to vent mostly. If I have something I want to say, I can say it through my characters and get my point across without sounding like I'm preaching. I have a few pet causes that I love to talk about, one being women's empowerment. I hope that through my characters, I am showing women in a positive light and in a way that makes them feel more empowered to speak their minds.

How will you make sure that your own work grabs and keeps your readers' attention every bit as well as your own favorites capture you? I'll keep it real...and not like Dave Chappelle real...just true. The emotions of the characters need to come from the same place they come from for me. I don't want to read about how it should feel to experience something and then try to paint that into my storyline in some attempt to be politically correct. If something feels like hell, I want to say it and make the reader understand that pain. Sometimes, things aren't pretty and I think it's important to show characters warts and all. I hope that I am always able to do that in my writing.

This was a fun exercise. I'm always surprised to find out something new about myself when I answer questions like these. Then again, I seem to surprise myself all of the time. But that's another post.

Until next time...

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

What do you say to that?

It seems that there are some people out there who just don't understand how to be tactful and appropriate and that they have decided to bring their ignorance to my table. Generally, I try to respond to morons as tactfully as possible and in some cases, I even ignore the stupidity. This time, however, I am going to take a moment to put it all out there and see where it goes.

For starters, I had a comment come across my blog the other day about the post I wrote on FOX news. When I read the comment, my first thought was that it was crass and inappropriate and that it probably could have been phrased differently, but since it showed a differing viewpoint I was willing to approve it. I responded somewhat jokingly and was prepared to let it go at that. Unfortunately, the other person decided that he or she (of course they posted anonymously) was not ready to let it drop. This, in turn, netted an angry response from another outspoken young lady who posted something else in my defense. At this point, I posted what I believe was a stern response to all of the nonsense and haven't heard more since.

The aim of the original comment was not to add value to the conversation, it was merely to shock the reader. I don't enjoy that. As a matter of fact, I believe it shows a lack of imagination and intelligence on the part of that commentor. If he or she (again, I have no idea which) had wanted to say something important, they would not have resorted to comments about my undergarments and so forth. They simply would have defended FOX news and left it at that.

In an unrelated incident, I was playing around on Facebook the other night and decided I would do one of those top five lists that everyone is doing on there. One of my friends posted her top five cookies and so, I decided to post my own list of favorites. Within a few minutes, I received a comment on my list. The comment went something like this, "Yes, you look like you enjoy all of them, all of the time." I thought to myself, "WTF? Did I say something to offend this guy?" The comment came from a person on my friends list whom I did not know very well. I won't say his name here because, unlike him, I'm at least a little classy. However, if you would like to know who it is, please let me know. We'll talk.

In any case, the comment completely blindsided me and for a while, I was feeling very bad about it. Of course, I immediately deleted both it and the friend from my list. No way am I going to allow someone the opportunity to insult me further once they have done something like this. The funny thing is that this guy was always posting motivational quotes and things that would lead you to believe he is a decent guy. I've never met him, spoken to him directly or anything like that, so I can't be sure if he was having a bad day or if cookies bring out the worst in him or what.

What bothered me most about the second incident is that he had no reason to say it other than just to be mean. Since he doesn't really know me, he doesn't know that my weight has been an issue for several years. You can't be pregnant every year for five years and not hold a little weight on your frame. After five miscarriages, your body tends to be a little uncooperative. Since I know that there are good reasons why I'm overweight and that it isn't simply a matter of sloth and gluttony, I generally have a thicker skin than this (no pun intended) if my weight is ever the topic of conversation. But I just could not understand what prompted such an attack from this person. Even if you're just having a bad day, the old adage, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all," still holds true. There was simply no reason for him to be so vicious.

I realize that anyone can get online and that sometimes, we befriend those who are less than stable. Generally, we add friends to our Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace pages based on very little information and so, we are always at risk of being insulted or offended by our "friends." Does this mean we should stop friending people we don't know in real life? No, it just means that we should be aware that there may some crazy boob lurking about just waiting for an opportunity to call you names or be a big jerk to you. I generally like people until they give me a reason not to. After that, the gloves are off. So, as I said before, if you are on Facebook and you want to make sure you aren't the next target for this guy, please feel free to contact me and I'll let you know who he is.

Until next time...

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A Little Bit of Mystery: Short Mysteries to Confuse and Amuse

Where I've Been...

Listen to my interview on the Jeffery S. Miller show.

Listen to my interview on Calling All Authors.

Listen to my interview on the Let's Just Talk w/Kathryn Raaker.

Listen to my interview on Radio Free Baxter.

Where I'll Be...

After a short break in the summer, I'll be at the following locations:

8/11/09 Allen Park Public Library, Allen Park, MI 6:30 p.m.

Looking for something entertaining for your library or bookstore patrons? Looking for a fun way to spend a couple of hours? Do you love mysteries? Then you need to schedule a Tea & Mystery event for your library or bookstore! The fee is minimal and the presentation is fun and informative! Attendees will be given the chance to win great prizes and share their thoughts about the mystery genre and their favorite mystery writers!

E-mail me today at for details on how to set up your Tea & Mystery event!

Books by Rebecca Benston

Reviews for Rebecca Benston

“You'll find yourself looking forward to more stories from the files of Rona Shively.”

Michelle Shealy, Reviewer for


“Rebecca Benston has written a detective with plenty of suspense…I hope there will be a sequel…”

Annick, Reviewer for Euro-Reviews


“The story is good, the plotting great. Rebecca Benston draws you into the story from the first page. Read the book.”

Lucille P. Robinson, An Alternative Read


“Rebecca Benston’s twists, turns, and descriptions are utterly engaging.”

Tracy, Fallen Angel Reviews


“In The Wash is like a 1930’s film noir detective story that had a modern, edgy twist and a female lead.”

Janet Davies, Once Upon a Romance Reviews


“Under Lock and Key is an enjoyable, fun book! Rona Shively is a delightful character. I loved her off-beat, quirky personality and her outstanding sense of humor.”

Connie Harris,


“Talented author Rebecca Benston shows the reader just how complicated life can get suddenly and how people you thought you knew, aren't who you thought they were.”

Anne K. Edwards,