Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Fickle Winds of Fate

by Chris Goff

Sunset at Salt Pond Beach, local playing uke, cue whales. We saw four breach that afternoon!
I'd love to know who coined the phrase "the fickle winds of fate," but I'll be damned if I can find a reference. All I know is, weather can wreak havoc with a writer.

On a personal level

Headed North toward Hanalei.
Mentally, for weeks now, weather has been wreaking havoc with my writing.

On January 21st, my husband and I flew to Kaua'i, Hawaii, two weeks prior to our daughter's wedding. She lives there, but for all of her siblings (she has five) and all of her mainland guests, this was a destination wedding. Despite Mt. Wai'ale'ale, Kaua'i's second highest peak, being billed locally as the wettest spot on earth, the temperatures on the island range anywhere from 78° to 85°F year round. And—at least on the south side of the island—the sun nearly always shines. Perfect weather for sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling, whale-watching cruises, hiking, ziplining, hammocking and weddings. Writing, not so much.

For two weeks plus, I did nothing but play and spend quality time with the husband, the kids, family, friends, and my granddaughter (the grandson is on semester abroad and couldn't be there).

And then there was home.

Granted, Colorado isn't a bad place to live. We get sunshine 300 plus days a year. What we don't have is a beach! We have had record temperatures the past two weeks, which has helped my reentry; still, it's been hard to focus. I've decided I'd be more prolific if I lived in, say, Michigan. My youngest daughter (who teaches middle school in Grand Rapids and suffers from S.A.D.—seasonal affective disorder) says it's been brutal getting back to her routine, despite the weather making it desirable to be indoors.

I have no doubts that some writers suffer from S.A.D., most commonly known as winter depression (it can happen in the summer, too, but that's more rare). The winter blues occur as the days get shorter, light becomes scarce and the weather grows cold.

Nothing a trip to Kaua'i wouldn't cure!

All kidding aside

Writers and poets through time have used weather and seasons to set the scene, drive a plot, and mimic emotion.

My first weather encounter in crime fiction came in Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. In this book (first published in 1939 under a different title), a group of people are lured into coming to an island under different pretexts. Some are there for employment opportunities, others to meet up with old friends, and others for a late summer holiday. The guests all have one thing in common—they all have committed some heinous act, either escaping justice or having never been charged for their crimes. During dinner on the first night, they are informed by a gramophone recording that they have been brought to the island to pay for their sins. They are the only ones on the island, and they cannot escape due to the distance to the mainland and inclement weather. Then, one by one, they are all killed; each in a manner that seems to mimic an old British nursery rhyme, now entitled "Ten Little Soldier Boys." The story ends with a twist, and is Christie's bestselling novel with more than 100 million copies sold. It is also the world's bestselling mystery and one of the bestselling books of all time.

https://www.amazon.com/Red-Sky-Raisa-Jordan-Thriller/dp/1683311264/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1487367750&sr=1-1-fkmr0
Some of today's best crime writers have also used weather to set mood, isolate characters or drive plot. Read: Whiteout by Ken Follett, Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane, Stormy Weather by Carl Hiaasen... Read RED SKY, my most recent novel, due out June 13. In it, I use weather to set scene and to make it more difficult for my protagonist, Raisa Jordan, to acquire much needed intel.

My guess is, we can all quote the biggest catchphrase for bad writing, coined by Edward Bulwer-Lytton in his 1830 novel, Paul Clifford. His opening sentence—wait for it—"It was a dark and stormy night..." Writer's Digest described it as "the literary poster child for bad story starters;" while, on the flipside, the American Book Review ranked it No. 22 on its "Best First Lines from Novels" list. Needless to say, the opening has spawned a number of Worst First contests offering prizes to the writer who writes the worst first sentence of an imaginary novel.

Side note

When I first started writing, I attended a workshop offered in Glenwood Springs, CO, taught by none other than Lawrence Block and Joanne Greenberg. During the week we were there, the two held a contest for the worst first opening line of a novel. I won an honorable mention and a roll of Lifesavers for my entry, "He knew she knew that he knew she knew...."

Bottom line

Weather is out there. It affects us all on a daily basis—getting us outdoors or keeping us in, making us happy or making us sad. It affects the earth, helping plants to grow or making them shrivel. It can wreak havoc in the form of super storms, isolate us on deserted islands or provide a fresh blanket of snow for a spectacular getaway on skis (preferably the antagonist's, making it worse for our hero or heroine). Weather is not something that can be omitted. If your character sees the moon and stars, the sky must be clear. If the ground is wet and slippery, it's likely raining or storming. If your protagonist is wearing a parka, it must be cold; if she's rockin' a bikini, it must be warm. Weather affects everything, but it's something we write inherently. Used with intent, it can produce great things. Think Swiss Family Robinson.









Friday, February 17, 2017

The Art of Play

by Chris Goff

Hammocking at Brenneke's. We saw multiple whales breaching that day! Amazing!
My husband and I are just back from Kaua'i and our daughter Danielle's wedding, and I thought I'd share some of the photos. My daughter and her new husband live on island, so for them this is home. For their family and friends from the mainland (to put things in perspective, the bride has five siblings), it's called "a destination wedding." As you can see from the photos, we made the most of it!

Ziplining with Outfitters Kaua'i (the bride's employer).



Whale-watching with Blue Dolphin. We saw lots of tail.

The top of Waimea Canyon.

and the view of the Napali Coast

Waterfalls

Hammocking at Waimea Plantations (best "hotel" ever).


   
Snorkling at Poipu Beach

Turtle heading for the snorklers. Some were lucky enough to swim with them.


Chickens on the beach--only in Kaua'i



Hiking the Kalalau Trail to the Napali Coast.

The bride and groom in their natural habitat--Salt Pond Beach.



The favorite brother (the only son) on Polihale Beach--the farthest south you can go.



The bridesmaids(a sister-in-law and four sisters) dancing barefoot to the wedding.




The sunset reception, followed by dinner under the tent.

Mr. and Mrs. Davis
Now, with the trip behind us it's time to get back to work.
Please check back on Sunday for my regular post.

Mahalo and Aloha!





Tuesday, February 14, 2017

THE BEST VALENTINE'S GIFT IN THE WORLD

by Sonja Stone



An unexamined life is not worth living. --Socrates


valentine's day hike, scottsdale
The weekend started with a beautiful evening hike in the McDowell Mountains.

PERSONALITIES IN LOVE

In honor of Valentine's Day (a holiday that, as a general rule, I loathe), I'm gonna talk about couples in relationships. Specifically, couples in relationships based on their Enneagram numbers.

For those of you not familiar with the Enneagram, it's basically a system of typing personalities, a little like the Myers-Briggs, which I talked about in WRITING THE YOUNG ADULT THRILLER.

The Enneagram system describes 9 basic personality types. The full test is rather lengthy, but there's a quick version here, if you're interested. If you already know your type, you can read about your personality traits in full on The Enneagram Institute's website. There's a great feature on this site that talks about relationships (specifically, how any two types interact with one another).

As my Valentine's gift, this past weekend my boyfriend treated us to an Enneagram Couples Workshop. We spent 17 hours learning about our personalities, how we interact based on our inherent beliefs and motivations, where our strengths lie and where our blind spots hide. This was a really thoughtful gift. Not only do I love exploring personalities (and talking about myself), but my bf and I got to spend basically the whole weekend together. 

Some of you know that I'm not really into "feelings." I'm comfortable with anger, but sadness, vulnerability, tenderness... I don't have a lot of use for those. My boyfriend and I joke that we have reversed gender roles--he's the extroverted feeler and I'm the introverted thinker. Our Enneagram types further confirm this hypothesis: I'm an 8 ("The Challenger"--confrontational, direct) and he's a 2 ("The Helper"--demonstrative, people-pleasing). 


The Enneagram with 9 Basic Types


EVERYTHING IS RESEARCH

The reason I bring this up on a blog authored by eight thriller writers is this: I'm currently working on the sequel to my young adult spy thriller, DESERT DARK, and I've really been struggling with the relationships between the characters. It's an issue I had with the first novel, too. My agent would send back my draft with notes scribbled in the margin: "Okay, the action is great, but what is she feeling here?"

What is she feeling? I really don't know. Does it matter? She's angry--do I care what's underneath? Is it relevant that her anger stems from fear of losing someone she loves? She's pissed and she's got a knife. Sounds like everything's going swimmingly to me!

Of course, I know that it DOES matter. I know that feelings are ALL that matter. I don't know this because it's what I believe; I know it because people who can better express their feelings tell me so. People I respect and seek counsel from, people I love, people I pay $150/hour to listen to me ramble (I don't ramble, I'm very direct. Because I'm an 8 on the Enneagram. Get in, get out, get on with it).

During one of our breaks at the conference, I took a second to jot down the personality type of each of my main characters. I'm really excited to do a little research and see how all of the types interact with one another (admittedly, this may be just another creative procrastination ploy cooked up by my if-you're-not-working-you're-wasting-precious-time brain, but either way, I'll probably learn something, right?).

So back to why I loathe Valentine's Day and the gender reversal thing. My boyfriend says, "What do you want for Valentine's Day?" I say, "Nothing. It's a stupid holiday fabricated by consumerism and does nothing but make people feel bad about their current relationships because it's impossible to live up to the hype." He nods. After a moment of silence I ask, "Um, what do you want for Valentine's Day?" Then he answers the same way that disillusioned lovers have been answering for millennia. "If you loved me, you would know what I want."

FYI, being in love doesn't grant me extrasensory perception. 


P.S. THE WEATHER 

Our topic this past month has been weather and how it weaves its way into fiction. My blog sisters have done a great job exploring this. K.J. Howe talked about self-care in the winter months, Jamie Freveletti ran down a few of the classics inspired by the Dust Bowl, and S. Lee Manning offered practical tips for incorporating weather into your fiction

I've heard weather and setting should be treated as their own character, but since I can barely eke out an emotion for an actual human, I leave this to the more skilled. Also, I live in Phoenix. It's 70 degrees and sunny. It will BE 70 degrees and sunny until mid-May, at which point the climate will change to 120 and sunny, where it shall remain until late October. Then--you guessed it--70 and sunny. Have you gleaned the pattern?


P.P.S. THE BOYFRIEND

First of all, for the record, I'm pretty sure he was kidding about that whole if-you-love-me-you'd-know thing. Secondly, I'll admit, I'm thrilled he ignored me when I said not to get a gift. I meant it, and I would've been fine without one, but we had a great (educational) time. In case you're wondering, I got him a gift certificate for a massage and a facial. And filled the empty flower box in front of his house with geraniums, snapdragons, petunias, and alyssum, which really was an act of love, because I think annual flowers are a ridiculous waste of resources. I mean, if they had some medicinal value, sure. But planting something just for the sake of it looking pretty? Something that will die and never come back? 

Because of our weekend-long workshop, I understand WHY I think that's ridiculous, and I also understand why my boyfriend thinks such things are a necessity. Apparently, you can teach an old dog new tricks. :)

Do you enjoy Valentine's Day? Are you a romantic like my boyfriend, or a skeptic like me?

photo credit, Enneagram: https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/how-the-enneagram-system-works/

Sunday, February 12, 2017

THE PRESIDENT'S BOOK OF SECRETS: A Review and Interview with Author David Priess

By Francine Mathews

The phrase "President's Daily Briefing" has suddenly dropped into the national dialogue since the election of Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States. Its existence for years was secret, but as nothing is sacred to the twenty-four hour digital news cycle, the term is now freely tweeted by Cabinet members and armchair pundits alike. Often referred to by insiders as simply "the Book," or by its initials as the PDB, the daily intelligence digest delivered to the chief executive has evolved in scope, format and platform since its postwar birth--primarily as a result of the individual demands of successive presidents and their varying appreciation of intelligence analysis.

The PDB's impact and evolution is beautifully mapped and explicated by David Priess in The President's Book of Secrets: The Untold Story of Intelligence Briefings to American's Presidents From Kennedy to Obama (New York: Public Affairs, 2016). Kennedy's desire to refer to a pithy intel digest he could carry in his pocket--particularly when he spent weekends in Warrenton, VA on wife Jackie's leased horse farm--helped to shape the Book's origins. Nixon, who believed the CIA had been plotting his ruin for years, had little time, trust, or interest in the daily brief--a judgment reinforced by the Agency's failure to predict Egypt's invasion of Israel on October 6, 1973. Jimmy Carter asked for more "divergent views" in the analysis, rather than consensus opinion, while his National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, faulted it for lacking "broad, sweeping, bold insights into the future"--particularly as related to Carter's bete-noire, Iran. 

President Reagan's decision to elevate his CIA Director, William Casey, to Cabinet level blurred the divide between policy-support (intelligence's vital role) and policy-formulation, leading some consumers of the book, such as Secretary of State George Schultz, to view the analytic judgments as too politicized. George H.W. Bush, whom Priess calls "The Spymaster President," reverted to subordinating his DCI to the Cabinet and stressed the need for analytic objectivity. Bush relished his time with the Book--it was the first thing he saw each morning--and made a habit of posing follow-up questions to his CIA briefer. The professorial Obama shifted the format from print to digital delivery on a tablet, with links to supporting documents he could read in depth. The most telling response he offered his briefers when they leaned forward to speak? "Let me read."

Much of the content of the Book over the decades remains classified, of course, and so Priess's accounts often glide past the substance of briefings to focus on the process. Nonetheless, one of the most compelling passages is his description of PDB briefers' experiences on September 11, 2001, as planes flown by terrorists plummeted through the Pentagon and World Trade Center: a brutal metaphor for the collision between analysis and Ground Truth. The creation of the post of Director of National Intelligence after 9/11 has led to the latest tweak in the PDB--it is now a community product overseen by the Office of the DNI, and reflects the coordination and consensus of the IC's seventeen member-agencies.

Priess is an award-winning CIA intelligence analyst and a former PDB briefer himself, who worked under Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush. (Indeed, Bush penned the forward to this book in a way that is both a tribute to briefers and the affection that he, as a former Director of Central Intelligence, continues to feel for the security community.) Priess holds a doctorate from Duke in political science, and his primary aim in this work is to add to the growing field of studies in intelligence. He interviewed every living president and vice president, as well as more than one hundred other people involved in either the production or the consumption of the PDB. The resulting history is both erudite and anecdotal. For that reason alone, his book belongs on the shelf of any student of the security community or its interaction with successive administrations. 
“You know, I'm, like, a smart person. I don't have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years. Could be eight years — but eight years. I don't need that,” Trump said. “But I do say, ‘If something should change, let us know.”
It is impossible to read The President's Book of Secrets today without addressing the elephant in the room: What will be the fate of the President's Daily Briefing during the current administration? The ascension of Donald J. Trump to the presidency, and the ambivalence he has displayed toward the Intelligence Community in recent weeks, suggests that it will certainly evolve again in format as well as delivery. Not surprisingly, the entire world has been asking David Priess for his views, from the New York Times to Fox News and MSNBC. David Priess was kind enough to answer a few questions for Rogue Women Writers:

Dr. David Priess,
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library
RWWIn relating the transition of the "book" from its inception under JFK to the present, you make clear that it has evolved according to each president's briefing needs and personal style of engagement with the material. But an underlying theme is the fact that a president's degree of trust in the CIA's collection and analytic judgments determines his willingness to entertain intelligence briefings at all--with Richard Nixon being the most aloof and George H.W. Bush perhaps the most welcoming. How do you expect the PDB to evolve under the incoming administration?

DP: Nixon did, indeed, forgo in-person intelligence briefings during his time in office--but that's the norm, rather than the exception, across the history of the President's Daily Brief. Only Ford (for one year) and the Bushes (for all of their respective terms) took in-person PDB briefings each working day; other took briefings irregularly or not at all.

While Nixon is the closest parallel to Trump in terms of his attitude coming in toward the intelligence community, Nixon and Trump differ on one important variable: Trump has been more open to intelligence briefers in 2016-17 than Nixon was in 1968-69. At the NBC News forum in September 2016, Trump called his campaign intelligence briefers “experts.” During the transition, he sat down for top-secret sessions, apparently each week, with briefers from the ODNI — far more direct exposure to intelligence officers than Nixon had during his transition. And on December 11, he told Fox News that these were “very good people that are giving me the briefings.”

That, combined with the fact that Trump has provided more insight into what might work better for him than anything intelligence officers got directly from Nixon, provides hope for a more productive relationship around the President's Daily Brief than many expect.

RWW: Technology has fundamentally altered the format of intelligence delivery, much as it has the news cycle, with the ability to digitally update briefing points on a continual basis. Personally, I can see upsides and downsides to this. On the positive side, policymakers can be alerted to critical security issues in real time. On the downside, digital updates may reduce the need for personal briefers to the point where the more nuanced dialogue between Intelligence Community and the president is lost. Finally, the perceived need to update judgments in real time may encourage a rush to analytic judgment. What do you think?

DPIf the point of the President's Daily Brief were only to present up-to-the-minute facts to the president, then this might be a concern. The daily intelligence book can include such timely information, of course, but the bulk of the PDB across the decades has been analysis--which could have been many hours, days, or even weeks in the making. The advantage of having a briefer in the room comes much less from his or her ability to deliver late-breaking updates than from his or her ability to answer questions, discuss analytic nuances, or provide information that would not have come out without conversation. 

RWW: How has the shift in the PDB's production center--from CIA to ODNI--and the resultant coordination among all 17 agencies on analytic judgments, changed the product? Is it stronger for the incorporation of diverse opinion, in your view, or has it the potential to become a least-common-denominator book?

DP: The PDB's shift to ODNI management certainly expands the potential analytic contributions for the president. Perspectives that might not have made it into the book back in the days when it was written only by CIA analysts now regularly appear, giving the PDB's readers a wider perspective than they had before. But the basic approach to providing assessments in the book appears to have stayed the same. As John Negroponte, the first DNI, told me, "I'll be damned if I can tell you that it's really that different" because of ODNI management. 

RWW: If the Trump administration abolishes the ODNI, as is rumored, do you expect the PDB to be reclaimed by the CIA? 

DP: Regardless of who edits and manages it, the President's Daily Brief serves a useful purpose that any president should find helpful: an objective, timely, and hopefully accurate input that offers insights into foreign policy opportunities and national security threats. I have no doubt that the CIA would be able to handle the PDB's management again should such a need arise.

RWW: How would you appeal to this primary consumer if you were still in the job?

DP: The president has said in interviews that he likes one-pagers and bullet-point lists more than 200-page reports. Such information is pure gold for the analysts writing for the PDB, the editors shaping its assessments, and the briefers delivering it to the commander-in-chief. For more than 50 years, the intelligence community has tailored the look and the content of the PDB to the current occupant of the Oval Office; there's no reason to stop that now!

RWW: Thanks so much, David--We appreciate your time, and the extraordinary work you've put into this book.

THE PRESIDENT'S BOOK OF SECRETS has sold out in hardcover, but is available on digital edition and paperback. Order it here on amazon or anywhere you prefer to buy books.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Weather and Environmental Disasters and the Fiction Stories That Follow

Dust Bowl, 1930's

by Jamie Freveletti

This image of a dust storm barreling down on a farm in the 1930's is a chilling one. This largely man-made environmental disaster was a result of over plowing combined with drought conditions and a collapsing market for wheat.

In the years before the stock market crash, eager farmers flowed west to take advantage of cheap land and the need for wheat. Gas powered tractors made plowing the heavy buffalo grass of the prairie easy. Fields that formerly consisted of prairie grass were plowed under and wheat put in their place despite the fact that the prairie was not an ideal place for this type of crop due to its recurrent drought conditions.

But the high prices for wheat collapsed along with the stock market crash of 1929. Two years later, in 1931, drought followed. Unlike buffalo grass, which had adapted to the cycle of rain and drought and could survive both, wheat was a crop that required a steady supply of water. The wheat dried up, leaving the dust and dirt to be whipped up by winds. And the environmental events that followed are shocking to read.

Dust clouds as high as 10,000 feet rolled over the land. The storms created so much static electricity that blue flames would dance from barbed wire fences and merely shaking hands could create an electrical shock so powerful that it could knock one to the ground. The electricity in the air would short out cars and radios. Drivers would drag chains from their car to ground it to the land.

The dust choked livestock and killed many of them. Cows and chickens died and soon the young and elderly did as well from inhaling the particulate that coated their lungs. Dubbed "Dust Pneumonia," hundreds died of  it. Dust storms, or "dusters" as they were called, were so dark that to be enveloped in one meant that you would not be able to see.

And then came the grasshoppers and jackrabbits. The drought loving insects swarmed over the fields, eating everything in sight. Jackrabbits as well. With their natural habitats destroyed, these animals descended on the fields in search of food.

Credit: Marshall County Kansas Historical Society 
It took years and the environmental efforts spearheaded by Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal programs to address this man made disaster. This governmental intervention, and the advent of conservation efforts along with better farming methods, eventually quelled the environmental disaster.

And some of our finest fiction and music grew from these hard times. John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath and Woody Guthrie's Dust Bowl Blues among them.

And today we have our own share of environmental disasters. The tsunami that struck the Fukushima nuclear power plant and caused it to melt down, as well as hurricane Katrina that devastated New Orleans. And in 2016 Oklahoma experienced 1,000 earthquakes of 3.0 magnitude or above as a suspected result of oil and gas activity and fracking. (They had only 2 in 2008). Regulations are being put in place to handle the wastewater by product that the Oklahoma government linked to the problem in 2015.

All of these real events inspire authors to tell the stories of those facing a the wrath of nature. And the theme of that wrath is the same: nature will win, because it does not discriminate. Nature is all powerful, and controlling it is not an option. As a writer we're told to heighten conflict whenever possible, because conflict makes for a great story. Well, there's no greater conflict than this.

Check out the excellent articles and facts below: 

The Dust Bowl, Ken Burns, PBS http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/dustbowl/

When Storms Converge, article by David C Brown, https://jfbrownrealestate.com/when-storms-converge-lessons-of-the-dust-bowl/

Ten Things You May Not Know About The Dust Bowl: History,  http://www.history.com/news/10-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-dust-bowl

Why Oklahoma Can't Turn Off Its Earthquakes, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-08/why-oklahoma-can-t-turn-off-its-earthquakes


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

WINNER ANNOUNCED IN THE JANUARY 2017 GIVEAWAY!

One hundred and twenty-three folks entered our January giveaway and one lucky person is walking away with eight signed Thrillers and some Rogue Women Swag! Our congratulations to TOM NORUSH. His resolution: "To read more mysteries!" 

Please check back for more Giveaways and/or sign up to follow the blog, so you don't miss your chance to enter and win! 


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Welcome Guest Author Lisa Black

....Submitted by Karna Small Bodman


We are delighted to welcome New York Times Bestselling Author Lisa Black as our guest blogger.  



Lisa Black
 
Lisa has spent over 20 years in forensic science, first at the coroner's office in Cleveland, Ohio and now as a certified latent print examiner and CSI at a Florida police department.  Her books have been translated into six languages and one has been optioned for film and a possible TV series. In keeping with our current theme of the effects of weather on our writing, Lisa tells us how her own experiences have played out in her exciting thrillers:

Cleveland weather is the reason I now live in Florida. Not that I had a problem with it--I’m not affected by SAD and I find rain soothing--but my husband fussed to the point that he insisted we move 1400 miles south, so that now he can fuss about the heat and the wind and the summer monsoons.
Anyway.

The fun thing about Cleveland is that it has four distinct seasons (instead of two, rainy and dry, as in boring old Florida) and each has its extremes to serve as a moody and violent backdrop to my stories. The weather becomes a character in itself, opposing and confounding my heroine every chance it gets.

Let’s get winter out of the way. Winter is brutal, there’s no other term for it. One morning I left to go to work when it was twenty below zero. Not wind chill, actual temperature (and parked in the driveway my little Ford Escort, bless her heart, started right up). That’s why I had my victim freeze to
death in Evidence of Murder in the blanketed, eerie silence of a copse of trees by the lake. Then there’s the snow--tons and tons of it, barreling down from the sky, turning to slush when the temperature warms and to ice harder than diamonds when it drops. We have Lake Erie to the north of the city and that causes ‘lake effect’ to influence the heavens, dumping feet on one side of town and only inches on the other.  No one really knows what ‘lake effect’ is, but in Cleveland we blame everything that happens on it.


But then there’s spring. April showers continue through May, June, July…actually it never stops raining during the summer, one reason that farms in Ohio can do so well in a good year. 

 
 
Then comes summer. It’s the northern border of America, right, so it can’t get that hot? Wrong. It can be as sweltering as Florida can--the only difference is it doesn’t usually last for six months. Tempers flare and air conditioners go on the fritz. But the charm of Cleveland weather lies in its unpredictability. The first June in our second house we threw a pool party for my husband’s birthday. It was 45 degrees. The pool created its own fog as its steam rose. The last June in our second house,
my husband was already in Florida and being the cheapskate I am, I refused to turn on the central air. It was 11 pm in an upstairs room with the windows open and a fan blowing and I had just showered, and yet I still remember the sweat rolling off me in sheets. I used this face of summer in Takeover, having started with a vision of my character crossing the sun-baked asphalt street toward the bank robbers, exchanging herself for her wounded detective fiancé.

Fall is everyone’s favorite, and certainly mine. The air gets crisp, the leaves burst into a cacophony of colors, the sky becomes a deep cobalt. I can’t say anything bad about fall, and it’s not just because my birthday is in September. But September, in particular, has its dark side too. Over my years at the coroner’s office I noticed a jump in homicides during the month. One September there were only six days on which we did not have a homicide victim come in, and
on two days we had two. The August heat and the Christmas holidays might make people a little crazy, but I believe September does too. From the time we are small we start back to school at this time, the carefree days of vacation over. We’re stuffed back into a uniform and a schedule. The days grow shorter and the trees start to shed. Our bodies know that something is supposed to change come September, and when it doesn’t, we get antsy. For some, antsy gets out of control and shades into violence.

And then I write about it.
 
Lisa's new thriller, Unpunished, has just been released.  Thank you, Lisa, for sharing your ideas and writing style with all of here on Rogue Women Writers.  For our friends and readers, leave a comment about stories you recall where the weather really was  an important "character!"
....Karna Small Bodman