We are joined this month by Christina Hamlett, an award-winning author of 44 books, 247 stage plays, and squillions of articles. She is also a script consultant and a professional ghostwriter. Learn more about Christina and follow along with on my own publishing journey in this edition.
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If you haven't read the novel, you can order A DEAD MAN'S EYES through any of these links or from your favorite book store.
Book two in the Lisa Jamison Mystery Series arrives in bookstores in April of 2022! For a description of NEVER BROKEN and my other upcoming novels, click here.
Meet Christina Hamlett
Former actress/director Christina Hamlett is an award-winning author whose credits to date include 44 books, 247 stage plays, and squillions of articles. She is also a script consultant and a professional ghostwriter.
So many to choose from! While You Were Out is the latest novel from Christina and her co-author Jamie Dare. Here is the description: It’s one thing for Henny Tinker to think that her handsome and charismatic new boss, Geoffrey Bond, is way out of her league. The more she reflects on his secret trips and his uncanny ability to acquire never-before-seen artworks, the more she starts to suspect that he’s also – quite literally - out of her time-zone. Could it have something to do with the Scottish railway clock in his office that runs perfectly…in reverse? Is it his penchant for period outfits that supposedly coincide with the various themed costume parties he attends? Or has Henny simply been watching too many time-travel movies with her father and now sees evidence of its existence everywhere she looks? Set against the backdrop of modern-day London, While You Were Out is just the right mix of romantic comedy, mystery and a dash of wicked competition in the world of expensive art acquisitions.
Q: The bulk of your published work is in playwriting (247 scripts to date), but you are also a prolific novelist. When did you write your first novel and what made you decide to pursue the novel form?
Christina: I wrote my first novel in 1972. It remains unsold to this day because, frankly, it is mind-numbingly awful and I really didn’t know what I was doing. I set the thought of novels aside until 1990 because I was (and still am) having much more fun writing for theatre. Revisiting novels gave me a chance to hone my research skills and give my characters backstory and “thought bubbles” that might otherwise be cumbersome in stage and screen.
Q: Have you ever had a literary agent? What are the benefits of going solo?
Christina: My first and only agent got me through the doors of HarperCollins with romantic suspense, and I’ll always be appreciative of that. Unfortunately, romantic suspense was the only thing she knew how to sell and she, thus, wanted to limit me to that category. Going solo gives me more creative freedom along with keeping a higher share of royalties.
Q: Which is your favorite novel genre and why?
Christina: As a reader, I love historical fiction and being able to immerse myself in other cultures and earlier centuries. Mysteries rank high in my estimation as well since I enjoy the challenge of figuring out which clues are real and which are red herrings. As an author, I like the lighter, whimsical fare of chick-lit. I co-authored my first one, While You Were Out, with my writing partner, Jamie Dare. Two more books—Saving Captain Cupid and Til the Cows Come Home—are currently in the works. An amusing anecdote about my relationship with Jamie: We’ve been penning projects together since 2012 but have spoken only once on the phone and have never met in person. Hey, if a system works, why mess with it?
Q: Does your experience in playwriting help or hurt your novel-writing efforts? How so?
Christina: Having spent 16 years as an actress/director, I always cast, envision and direct each scene in my head before I actually write it. This helps tremendously with both structure and pacing along with “hearing” whether the dialogue sounds realistic. I also embrace the habit of using my architectural software to design 3D sets for the characters in my plays and novels to virtually walk around in.
Q: How many projects do you usually have going at once? Are they in multiple genres? How do you stay organized and focused?
Christina: Between six and ten. Since they are all in a diverse array of genres, it’s easy to maintain balance because there isn’t any overlap of characters and plots. In addition, the amount of research in which I am always occupied means that whatever I learn can be applied to multiple projects and save copious amounts of time.
Q: Many novelists dream of selling film rights to their novels. You are also an experienced screenplay writer and instructor. What advice would you give to novelists who want to transform their own work into screenplays? Should they even try?
Christina: First and foremost, authors need to respect the differences between a print medium and a visual medium. Not everything transitions successfully from one form to another. In the online screenwriting classes I teach, I often encounter authors whose friends have told them their book would make a great movie and can they use that for their homework assignments. The biggest obstacles they hit, however, are: (1) starting their film in the wrong place, (2) incorporating way more backstory than is necessary, (3) having characters explain things ad nauseum to one another that both parties presumably already know, (4) not having a sustainable conflict, and (5) trying to adapt a 400+ page story into a 110 page screenplay without sacrificing any characters, conversations or scenes. For those who want to go the DIY route, it’s imperative to master the craft, study existing films in their chosen genre, and study screenplays online. The alternative is to shop the book itself to reputable film agents who have the connections to place the project with the right production company.
Q: Do you have hobbies or interests that are not writing-related?
Christina: My husband and I are both gourmet chefs and enjoy traveling, both domestic and international. I also play the piano, am a skilled photographer, dabble in architectural design and am learning Portuguese.
in Memorium ...
my family and I have greatly enjoyed the summer so far, it has not
been without sadness. In June, my sister-in-law was diagnosed with
breast cancer. She died three weeks later. Linda (Sullivan) Duffy was a talented
artist, a book illustrator, an avid reader and a great supporter of my
own writing. She belonged to a book club in Colorado Springs for more
than two decades. Her fellow book club members were her best friends and
were an amazing source of support for Linda and my brother, Ed, during those weeks. I had the pleasure
of meeting most of them at her Celebration of Life. Linda is survived
by her soulmate Ed, and their sons, Calvin and Max. She touched so many
lives and will be forever missed.
This is where you will find me virtually and in person!
(For the always-updated website version, click here.)
Aug. 25-29,Bouchercon: The World Mystery Convention, New Orleans, Louisiana. Come join hundreds of authors, fans, publishers reviewers, booksellers, and editors for five days of panels, parties, and pure mystery fun at the world’s premier annual crime fiction event. I will be there. I hope you will be there, too!
Our creek usually slows to a trickle at this time of the year, but constant, heavy rains have kept it flowing strong this summer. I am enjoying my walks around our property more now that everything is growing so fully and thickly.
What's up with my books?
It is so strange to re-read Never Broken after shelving the novel for almost two years. As I go through book two in the Lisa Jamison series, I am seeing evidence of my own growth as a writer. Things stand out that I had never noticed before, like language that is too formal or scenes that move too fast. I thought I had so much time for edits when the summer began, but here we are in August and I haven't even finished the first read-through. So, that is what I will be doing this weekend. I am really excited about Never Brokenthough. Personally, I think it is stronger than A Dead Man's Eyes, but I am happy to see that it can still be comfortably read as a standalone.
When I submit the manuscript for Never Broken to my editor in October, I will also begin a new round of marketing and promotion, reaching out to authors for endorsements and bloggers for interviews, reviews and guest posts. At the same time, I will continue to promote A Dead Man's Eyes at book festivals, libraries, local festivals and book stores. By November or December, I will also begin edits of my first standalone release, Never Let Go. The manuscript is due in April for a December release.
It all feels a little overwhelming.
I will have to get better at time management and at incorporating healthy eating and exercise into my days. That can be hard with two teenagers still at home and my part-time job, but I know I can do it with lots of commitment, the support of my husband and the lifting of pandemic restrictions. Fingers crossed that people will come around to the benefits of vaccination and we can return to a sense of normalcy.
What's up at home?
Summer is flying by too quickly. The twins had a great time at summer camp and are getting ready for cross-country practices to begin. The older kids took off on separate trips this week, driving to Cincinnati and Detroit visit friends (Why is it that I have no issues when they travel alone abroad, but I worry like crazy when they drive for seven or nine hours?). My husband built me the coolest waterfall and pond on the edge of our woods that I will surround with a butterfly garden and herbs next summer. I will miss having him work from home when he returns to the office three days week in the fall. I am preparing for Bouchercon in New Orleans later this month, where I will be meeting mystery lovers and participating on a panel. Some attendees have cancelled in fear of the Delta variant or because they don't want to wear a mask. I am putting my faith in city officials, the hotel and the organizers that we will all be safe and will still have a good time.
Happy writing and reading. I hope you enjoy A DEAD MAN'S EYES!