Wednesday, November 26, 2014

You Inspire Me

At Mysteristas today I'm talking about friends--and yes, even strangers--who inspire me:

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Meet My Character

Mystery writer Kait Carson, who writes a series set in one of my favorite places on earth--Key West--asked me to continue the "Meet My Character Blog Tour."  Visit Kait at to meet her character.  
Meanwhile, I'd like to introduce you to one of my favorite characters, Nell Letterly, super mom and martial artist.  When I write about Nell, I am being Sue Star.  
Is she fictional or historical? 
Nell is definitely fictional, but she's a creation from my own experience as a martial artist.  

When and where is the story set?

Today.  Boulder, Colorado.  Nell and her teenage daughter live in a small apartment above a down-and-out karate studio located in a part of town called The Hill, which is near a large university.  

What should we know about her?

Nell's university husband ran off to the Caribbean with most of their savings and a long-haired honey.  Left alone with the mortgage and raising the daughter who thinks the raising is all done, Nell finds work as a karate instructor.  She's come a long way, baby.  

What is the main conflict. What messes up her life?
In Nell's second adventure, Murder with Altitude, she tangles with attitude issues, in the name of powerful, established families, and also a local developer trying to control buy up all of Boulder.  

What is the personal goal of the character?
Nell's goal is always to find the killer before the killer finds her or other members of her family!

Are there other books in this series?
Murder in the Dojo is the first book in the series. 
Murder with Altitude is the current release.  
Murder for a Cash Crop is scheduled to be released in the fall of 2015.  

Thanks so much, Kait, for inviting me to participate!  

Monday, October 6, 2014

On Demons

Today I'm being Minta Monroe and posting about demons over at Cafe Otherworld.  What demon would you like to see in a story?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Losing 101 for Characters

Today I'm being Sue Star, with a few thoughts about baseball, losing, and characters.

Check it out at Mysteristas:

Monday, September 22, 2014

Searching for Gold

We didn't have to look very hard.  This year the aspen are spectacular!  It helps not having floods, as we had this time last year.  With no basement to reconstruct, should I paint aspen, or write a book?!?  It's so hard to choose.  Here are some possibilities from our hike to Lily Pad Lake in Summit County:

Or maybe I should paint the brilliant colors of Loveland Pass?

Such beauty is terribly distracting!

Monday, September 8, 2014

7 Reasons to Write a Book in this Setting:

We went cruising on the Grand Union Canal in London, and now I have another book to add to the queue of books I want to write.  Here's why:  

The canal feels isolated within the city.

The lock system tells a fascinating history.

Boat people have stories to tell.

There are interesting patches of light and dark.

Why are there wild parrots in London?

Shopping is handy.

My boat is already here.

So, should I write the book?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Winter vs. Summer in Romania

We had the pleasure of visiting Romania last winter and again this summer.  We noticed a few contrasts.  

In winter, there's plenty of fog

Christmas lights

Vin Fiert

There's a foggy monastery on an island

and a Hobbit house! 

In summer, there are flowers in the park

ornate buildings 

a sunny monastery

boating at the lake

the old and the new

It's lovely any time!

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Sun Dial Trail

Last week I received my contributor's copy of Universe Between.  It includes one of my short stories, "The Sun Dial Trail," a flippant story that speculates about sun dials in space, and…  These are such fun to write!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

My Search for Dracula

Today I'm being Minta Monroe, my dark fantasy pen name, over at the Cafe, where I'm blogging about my Christmas trip to Transylvania.

Later in the week, I'll post more photos here.


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Shifting Jinn

What fun to receive my contributor's copy of Fantasy Adrift this past week!  It includes one of my short stories, "Shifting Jinn," about an eastern genie who meets voodoo in the west--specifically, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, one of my favorite spots in the Caribbean.  You can scroll through previous posts to see some of my photos from there.

Fantasy Adrift is an anthology of short stories and edited by the fabulous Kristine Kathryn Rusch.  It's available in all bookstores in all formats.  For more information from the publisher:

Monday, May 19, 2014

May's Writerly Update

1.  Cafe Otherworld launches today!  This is a group of paranormal writers joining together to discuss the supernatural.  I am one of them, writing under my dark fantasy pen name as Minta Monroe.  Come visit us at 

Today's blog features the vampire shrink author, Lynda Hilburn.  She is including a book giveaway.  

Minta will appear there this Wednesday, May 21.  

2.  My mystery pen name, Sue Star, has joined Mysteristas, an online group discussing aspects of mystery writing.  Come visit us at 

Sue adds her thoughts on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of every month.  So far Sue has written about:
  • what it means to get lucky when you're a mystery writer
  • visiting the International Spy Museum in Washington D.C.
  • spies on the homefront during WWII
  • what can you do, when your writing gets stuck?  

3.  Last but not least, one of my stories appears in Fiction River's May release, Fantasy Adrift.  

My story is "Shifting Jinn," by Rebecca S.W. Bates.  It's about an eastern genie in the west, fighting voodoo and crime in the Dominican Republic.  

It's been a busy and exciting month!  

Saturday, March 22, 2014

7 Reasons Why Current Novel Was Hardest to Write

The second novel in my Black Belt Mystery series is coming out this June, yay!  It will be called Murder with Altitude, by Sue Star.  It's the hardest book I've ever written so far.  Why?  

1.  It's a mystery.  

Mysteries are extra hard (at least, for me) to write.  My long-time friend Tom Schantz of The Rue Morgue once told me that mysteries are solved because of a mistake that the villain makes.  (These are my words.  He said it originally much better.)  So, that means as author I have to know what that mistake is and how it will lead to capture of the villain, which also means I have to know who are the suspects and the informants and how the trail of clues will lead the sleuth to discovery of the villain.  It's like a puzzle, and all the pieces have to work together.  Too many pieces, or the wrong pieces, make a mess.  

2.  That rascal Villain changed on me.  

Being a pantser, or writing by the seat of my pants, or writing into the dark, I write the story to discover what the story is.  Just when I thought I had it figured out, the plot and characters took off in a different direction, giving me a different villain, which meant I had to adjust the clues, and then all the threads started unraveling, which meant I had to…  

3.  Redraft.  

I redrafted 12 times.  Ugh.  This book came close to being stillborn, but I couldn't let it go.  

4.  Life Happens.  

We wouldn't have anything to write about if life didn't happen!  After 3 trips to Europe, a new granddaughter, and time being Nana, I now have at least a dozen more projects in the queue to write about, projects that have distracted me with tempting research into English history, canal boats, and Brazilian crime.  

5.  Starting and Stopping.

This is similar to being a painter and getting knocked off your ladder with a tray of paints.  You have to pick yourself up, clean up the spilled paints, and climb back on the ladder.  Now, where was I?  

6.  Other writing projects.  

While writing my 12 drafts, two other novels came out under my pen names:  The Jigsaw Window, by Cameron Kennedy, a novel that shows a family healing after Alzheimer's tears them apart; and The Mound Dwellers, by Minta Monroe, a novel about ghosts and a young woman's return to the family homestead.  I also kept up writing short stories and sold two of them.  More about those later.  

7.  Technology upgrades, learning curves, and computer crashes, dontcha love 'em??  

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Reasons #4, #3, #2, and #1

Here are the last 4 reasons why I love the Caribbean (especially in winter)!

4.  Colorful buildings

Colonial zones of Cartagena and Santo Domingo

3.  Inspiration for stories and paintings

The botanical gardens in Santo Domingo were once a military encampment for Trujillo.

2.  Pirate history!

1.  Hot, hot, hot!

The new city of Cartagena