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Friday, October 22, 2010


Our guest today for Book Club Friday is Sandra Carey Cody. Sandra is the author of the Jennie Connors mystery series, published by Avalon Books. The first three books are available in bookstores and libraries; number four is coming mid-2011.  These stories explore the challenges facing a single mother as she learns to balance her newfound independence with family and career responsibilities, at the same time solving a mystery in each book. Sandra has graciously offered a copy of PUT OUT THE LIGHT, the first book in the series to one lucky reader who posts a comment this week. To learn more about Sandra, visit her website and her two blogs, Birth of a Novel and Avalon Authors. -- AP

First, thanks for inviting me, Anastasia. I’m thrilled to have a chance to get to know some new folks who love reading, writing and all things crafty as much as I do.

Part of the pleasure of just about any creative endeavor is that it leads you in new directions. And venturing in a new direction for even a short distance adds a new dimension to your creation, whatever it may be.

I write a mystery series set in a retirement community where the residents are lively, alert and just bored enough to stir up trouble. My protagonist is Jennie Connors, who is charged with keeping these residents out of trouble. In each book, I’ve had a different resident use the special wisdom gained from their years of not-too-careful living to help (and sometimes hinder) Jennie in solving the mystery.

One of my favorite characters is Tess, a retired FBI agent whose area of expertise is graphology. In BY WHOSE HAND, she offers her knowledge to help Jennie delve into the psyches of the various suspects.  When I started the book, my understanding of graphology was limited to the generally-accepted notion that if your handwriting travels upward across the page, you’re probably an optimist.  So I headed off to the library to find a book on the subject. (Yes, my handwriting slants upward drastically; I believe I can learn anything if I can find the right book.)

I checked out three from the dozen or so on the shelf. I knew, of course, there was no way I could make myself an expert by reading three books. But that didn’t keep me from having fun with it. The first thing I did was take a couple of sheets of unlined paper and start filling them with random thoughts. I planned to analyze my own handwriting to see if my idea of myself agreed with the examples given by the experts.  I did this before I read the books, so I wouldn’t be tempted to shape my letters to fit the person I’d like to be.

When I had two full pages, I started reading.  I compared the three books, section by section, to see if they agreed in their interpretations of the little peculiarities that distinguish one individual’s script from another’s. With a few exceptions, they did. OK - time to check on my handwriting. For the most part, when I compared my pages with the examples in the books, it was like looking in a mirror–maybe not exactly what I wanted to see, but undeniably recognizable. There were a couple of areas that I thought were off-base, but when I asked my husband if he agreed with them, he laughed and said, “Oh yeah!”

I’m a long way from being an expert on graphology, but I know more about it than I did before – and a little more about myself – always a good thing. The point is – if you’re thinking of trying something new – DO IT.  Don’t worry if you’ll be good at it. Or even if you’ll like it. That doesn’t matter. Maybe you’ll hate it. That’s OK. You can always drop it and move on to the next thing on your list. (I assume everyone has a list.)

Thanks so much for stopping by, Sandra. I’ll bet you’ve given our readers a push to try something new. What about it? Is there something you’ve been meaning to try but haven’t yet gotten around to? Let’s hear from you. Anyone posting a comment this week is entered in the drawing for a copy of PUT OUT THE LIGHT, Sandra’s first Jennie Connors mystery. However, because I'll be without Internet access this weekend, the winner will be announced early next week instead of tomorrow. Don't forget to check back to find out if you're that winner -- AP 


Fran Shaff said...

Sandy, Your use of senior citizens as featured characters is a brilliant idea.

Sandy Cody said...

Thanks, Fran. It's ... ahem ... an example of "write what you know."

Cindi J said...

Interesting .. I wonder what my handwriting tells about me!

Kay said...

Sounds like a fun & interesting series. Caught my eye because we moved this summer to a community for those 55 & over. I'm a few years younger than that, but my husband's age got us in. LOL I'm still getting to know our new neighbors but the ones I've met are such neat people & have led interesting lives.

Loretta C. Rogers said...

Sandy, if I ever decide to break away from the Western & Historical genres and write mystery stories, I'll have a resource to use as an example.


E. B. Davis said...

The FBI character seems like one that should return, even if every book doesn't feature graphology everytime. Her FBI experience would aid Jennie's investigations. I too am glad that your secondary characters are seniors. So many years of experience and knowledge wasted when seniors are put on the shelf, especially when it comes to predicting human behavior. Sure, youngsters know the lastest technology, but without the knowledge of human nature and experience, the naive are often fooled. Christie's Miss Marple was the perfect example. Good luck on the upcoming book and let us know the release date!

Sandy Cody said...

Thanks, everyone, for stopping by and taking time to comment. One thing about writing about seniors, you may not be one, but it's a cinch that you know one (or some) and we'll all be one sooner or later.

Norma Huss said...

Sandy, this sounds like a series I'm going to like. I live in a retirement community and before my book was published one neighbor kept insisting I had to write a mystery about a retirement community. I told him a lot of others beat me to it, but I hadn't heard of your series before. (I love to hear about new-to-me mystery series.)

Sandy Cody said...

So do I, Norma. What's your book about?

Norma Huss said...

Sandy, my book has an 'over-40' amateur sleuth, only I think of her as anywhere from 50 to 70, well, up to 65 anyway. She pretends to be homeless, planning to write a book to re-energize her failing career, and, of course, finds a body. It's called Yesterday's Body.

Thanks for asking!

lynda said...

I am always on the lookout for a new series, and this one sounds great! I would love a chance to win a copy of the book. Thanks!

Sandy Cody said...

Norma, what an original idea. I'll look for it.

Lynda, thanks for checking out my post and more thanks for the goods words about my series idea.

Anonymous said...

Being a senior myself I am very interested in reading your mystery series about a retirement community.

Thanks for the interview.

Helen Kiker

Kari Wainwright said...

Trying new things helps keep people interesting, whether they are seniors or not. And when it comes to writing, even if we hate what we try, writers can always use that emotion as well.

gkw9000 [at] gmail.com

Sandy Cody said...

I couldn't agree more, Kari.

Elisabeth Rose said...

My Tuesday tennis group is mainly over 60's (except me --just :) ) and they are the liveliest, most irreverent, caring , supportive fun bunch of women you could hope to meet.

I've been writing a mystery with a retired policeman as sleuth. Needless to say he joins the local tennis club and is able to sift a few clues from the gossip :)

jeff7salter said...

My third novel ms. (as yet unpublished) is set in a neighborhood of condos for retirees ... attached to an assisted care and nursing home facility.
My story features over a dozen characters of the Greatest Generation and (properly) affords them the respect they deserve.
Of course, they can also be quite unintentionally humorous, which I hope I've captured as well.
I'd love to read your book. Please enter me.

Sandy Cody said...

Thanks, Lis & Jeff, for commenting. Love the concepts for each of your books. Guess great minds really DO think alike. Good luck with your books.

Helen, sounds like here are a couple more books for you to consider. Thanks for the encouragement.