Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Fodder by Heather Blake Webber

JENN: I am just thrilled to have Heather Blake Webber visiting us today! I only get to see Heather at conferences but it's always a treat. She has a ready smile and always gives good panel (yes, that's a conference thing)!

Heather Blake Webber: Two time Agatha nominee and
author of more than twenty mysteries!

HEATHER: Most fiction writers know fodder is everywhere. Rarely is any story off-limits, even when it hits close to home.

For example, a couple of years ago my then twenty-three-year-old son, JJ, flew from Ohio to Florida to compete in the Orlando half-marathon with a running buddy (RB) of his who was going to grad school in Gainesville. The night before the race, JJ, RB, and the buddy’s brother (B) drove an hour and forty-five minutes down to Orlando, stayed the night in a local hotel, and set off for the race early the next morning.

Parking spaces were scarce, but they eventually found a spot about a mile away, parked, and behind schedule, decided that a jog from the car to the start line would count as their warm-up run. JJ and RB left their belongings with B, who wasn’t racing, and were ready to go when the starting gun went off.

Happily, JJ won the race (proud mom alert!) and was rewarded with a large Publisher’s Clearinghouse-type check, in addition to the promotional giveaways for being a participant (tote bag, t-shirt, etc.). It had been a great morning, but when it came time to head back to Gainesville, the trio realized they had a big problem. 

No one could remember where they parked the car.

As in not even a single clue as to the direction in which it was parked. And as they weren’t local, they had no one to call for help. So, overstuffed neon green tote bags in hand, they set off in search of the car.

After wandering around Orlando for quite a while, they were hot, tired, and more than ready to ditch the comically oversized check when JJ realized that RB was wearing his Garmin GPS watch—and wondered if it could lead them to the car. The hunch paid off. Because RB has a Garmin Connect account, it was possible they could log in from RB’s smart phone to view the route they’d taken from the car to the start line, because the watch records and maps physical activity, and that information is automatically synced to the online account via a paired phone. They were able to view the map, which led them (finally) back to the car. 

Once I heard of their adventures, I knew immediately that a GPS watch that tracks your every move would make an interesting plot point in a book. No spoilers here, but I was finally able to use that watch in To Catch a Witch, my latest release. Now I’m on the lookout for fodder for the next book…

What about you, Reds, what have been some unexpected bits of fodder from your lives that have found their way into your books?

What the critics are saying: “Always a joy, this incredible author returns with her eighth installment of the Wishcraft Mysteries… If there was such a thing, Darcy Merriweather has definitely solidified her place in the Witch Hall of Fame.” Suspense Magazine

LEAVE A COMMENT TO BE ENTERED IN THE RANDOM DRAWING TO WIN AN AUDIO COPY OF TO CATCH A WITCH! GOOD LUCK!!!

National bestselling author Heather Blake is back with wishcrafter Darcy Merriweather in her eighth magical Wishcraft mystery adventure.

Wishcrafter Darcy Merriweather might be a witch with the ability to grant wishes for others, but wishing isn’t going to help her catch a killer…

When wishcrafter Darcy Merriweather’s personal concierge company is hired by elite runner Abby Stillwell to organize the Wicked Mad Dash, a competition that takes place in the Enchanted Village, Darcy is more than willing to help her friend. As blizzard conditions rage on the morning of the race, Darcy’s main concern is the terrible weather—until Abby goes missing…and is later found dead, buried in the snow.

As Darcy investigates her friend’s untimely death, she learns that she didn’t really know Abby well at all. And those closest to the woman—her secret fiancĂ©, her roommate, her ex-boyfriend, and her co-workers at Balefire Sports—seem to have plenty to hide too. As Darcy digs deeper, she uncovers complicated relationships, a possible embezzlement scheme, and allegations of cheating against a top athlete. 

Just when Darcy is convinced she’s hit a dead end in the case, a startling burglary and the hunt for Abby’s elusive ex send Darcy down a dark, dangerous trail. It will take the help from friends, family, and a little bit of magic for Darcy to stop a stone-cold killer from striking again.

79 comments:

  1. Using a watch to find a car is an amazing story . . . who knew a watch could do all that? I’m definitely looking forward to reading “To Catch a Witch” to find out how it all works out.
    And congratulations to your son . . . .

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    1. Thank you, Joan! Every time he races now, I try not to remind him to remember where he parked--I'm sure he learned that lesson. Maybe. Lol.

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    2. I love this - given that I have no sense of direction this is probably a worthy investment for me!

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  2. What a great story! GPS has changed our lives, and our writing. And congratulations to your son on the marathon win. Loving the visual of wandering all over Orlando carrying the check.

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    1. Technology can be so creepy, yet in this case it was beyond helpful. I wish he'd been able to take the check home, but it was too big to take on the plane.

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    2. Aw, I hope he got loads of pictures of the check.

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  3. That's a perfect thing to use in a book! And...those poor guys - ya run thirteen fast miles and then you have to wander in search of your ride home.

    I was out running years ago and found a phone ringing in a pile of leaves by the side of the road. Truly spooky. Yes, it went into a book!

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    1. I felt for them--they were exhausted. Wake-up was 4 AM for the race. Live and learn, right? And I have to know, did you answer the phone?

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    2. Well, Edith, don't leave us in suspense!

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    3. Ha! Just saw these questions. It was relatively early cell phone days, but I finally figured out how to answer it. Nothing too mysterious - a guy with a crew working on the road a mile previous had lost it and was calling from a co-worker's phone hoping somebody had picked it up. I took it back to my workplace and left it at the front desk and he picked it up. I made the experience a lot more creepy in my book, natch. ;^)

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  4. Welcome Heather, wonderful story! Your son must have been REALLY tired by the time they solved that problem. I'm so glad to see your series living on...what's next for you?

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    1. Thanks, Roberta! So. Tired. Poor guys! The next book in this series is out in April, and my first women's fiction, Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe, (Southern magical realism written as Heather Webber) will be out next summer with Forge books. Exciting times!

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    2. That's so cool, Heather! Can't wait to read Midnight at the Blackbird cafe!

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    3. Oh, that's so exciting, Heather. Congratulations! And I absolutely LOVE the title!

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    4. Thank you! I can't wait until it's out--feels like it's been a long time coming.

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  5. Using the Garmin to find your car is almost as good as saving your parking spot with google maps. It can be frustrating finding your car after hours of not knowing where you parked in an unfamiliar place.

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    1. This is my worst nightmare. I have started taking pictures of where I park when I'm in unfamiliar places so I can find my way back.

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  6. Who would thought could happen. Glad it worked out for the guys. Happy JJ won the race also. I am very alert when we are in a new place and do not get turned around.

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    1. Me, too! I don't like being lost or losing things. Drives me batty.

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    2. Thanks, Lois! I'm glad I didn't know what happened until well after it did.

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  7. Every mystery writer out there is going "ooooh!" what a cool way to twist the plot! With all the advances in technology it's gotten harder to use the old clues and red herrings ... and given us a whole raft of new devices. And on this HOT HOT day what a pleasure to see a book cover with snow on it! Congratulations on the new book!!
    (*Hallie here, can't seem to make the blog take my regular ID... hope I"m the only one having this problem.)

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    1. Oh, the technology irony, Hallie!

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    2. It's hard keeping up with all the new technology--sometimes I long for a good old-fashioned answering machine. Lol.

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  8. Oh lord, that happened to my husband. He forgets everything after a race and normally I know where the car is and I'm doing dropoff and pickup but we had a sick kid, so off he went solo. I sadly laughed at him for like 20 minutes. And I love this series, this is awesome.

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  9. Love the story, Heather! It's an answer to the age-old question: Where do you get your ideas?

    Well, as Flannery O'Connor famously said, "Anyone who has survived childhood has enough material to last his lifetime." Yes, indeed, everything is fodder, and it's all fair game. And as Elizabeth Gilbert says, "If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better."

    IN The Reluctant Fortune-Teller, I used much of what my mother taught me about reading cards for people.

    In the cozy I'm writing now, I am using a trip I took to a tiny community in the countryside in the south of France as a setting.

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    1. Brilliant, Keziah! I love setting books in places that require travel :)

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  10. If I'm parked in a strange location, typically a parking garage, I write down the level and section. Which worked until we lost the car in the Superdome garage in New Orleans. A guy on a golf cart came to our rescue. Duplicate levels and sections.

    Fascinating scenario with a GPS watch.



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    1. Same. Except I"m lazy and just take pictures of where I parked.

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  11. Hi Heather! I pre-ordered To Catch a Witch and read it as soon as it showed up on my Kindle. What a clever story! I was so glad to be visiting with the characters again and love the on-going plot points. I'm already looking forward to the next book. Thank you for the chance to win the audio book.

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    1. And she has a new magical realism series coming out - Yay!

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  13. Don’t you just love a story you can hold over your child’s head forever? (evil laughter) I imagine a lot of odd incidents work their way into books.

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  14. I love this story.

    So far, most of my fodder has been overheard conversation.

    Mary/Liz

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    1. Yaaaasssss! Which is why I love writing in public spaces.

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  15. Oh, Oh, I'm going to have to be more careful where I take my morning walk if that watch is tracking me! Great story. Heather, your FB post is one of the first places I check in the morning. Love the posts and love the books. Happy to see you at Jungle Reds.

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    1. She is delightful, isn't she? So glad you came to visit, Heather!

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    2. Thank you for the sweet comment! And thanks for being part of my Bookaholics group on Facebook. :)

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  16. I love reading how writers minds work! It find it amazing that you took something off the wall that happened in real life and used it in a book.

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  17. GPS tracking is great for innocent people, thank goodness, since it can help others find you when you are lost. I’m sure it must be horrible if you are up to no good. My husband and I use the Apple app on our phones to find out where the other one is when one of us is out of town. If all couples tracked each other, the divorce rate would skyrocket.

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    1. Our whole family uses Life360. The hooligans have begun driving and it tells me how fast they're going and what route they took. Not that I'm helicopter parenting or anything. Of course, it also tells them when I'm at a conference how long I sat in the bar...sigh.

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    2. Wow--I'm not sure I'm relieved or disappointed that we didn't have Life360 when my kids were teens...

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  18. Oh man. I’m stuck on not being able to get back to the car. Worst nightmare in the world.

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    1. And it gets worse the longer you can't find the car.

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    2. I'm glad I didn't know they couldn't find the car until long after the ordeal was over...

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  19. Welcome, Heather! Your son's experience reminds me ever-so-slightly of the "The Fitbit Murderer," a man who's alibi for killing his wife was disproved by her Fitbit details. There was a Dateline episode about it, hence the catchy nickname. Congrats on the new book!

    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/fitbit-murder-case-richard-dabate-pleads-not-guilty-wife-s-n752526

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    1. Fitbit Murderer just sounds so wrong, doesn't it?

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    2. That does sound wrong yet intriguing--I'm off to look this up.

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  20. Great story about the lost car! It really pained me to think of them wandering around looking for it after running a half marathon. And congratulations to your son on his victory. Savor the proud mama moment, Heather!

    I have not read your series previously, but will be looking it up. And I am SUPER excited about Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe -- it sounds right up my alley!

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  21. Hi Heather! Your books sounds delightful and now I have to read it to see how you worked in the watch GPS. Because my books are set in the UK, it seems like most of my plot convolutions involve avoiding the ever-present cameras. I watched a documentary where the Manchester police were literally able to follow the victim and the suspects all over the city, using footage from one camera to the next. In the book in progress, I've moved my detectives to a country village so that they can solves the crimes by actually talking to people!

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    1. There's an ID channel show specifically using security cameras, etc. to track suspects. It's amazing.

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    2. Love mysteries set in the country--and old-fashioned detective work. I'm amazed by all the cameras nowadays. Even in my own quiet neighborhood, I see them on houses...

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  22. Oh, and Heather, can't wait to read Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe!

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  23. Heather, welcome to Jungle Reds! Now I want to read your Witch series! That's a wonderful story about GPS and finding the car! Isn't technology amazing?

    Diana

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  24. I've never had a driver's license. So I've never owned a car to get lost in a parking lot. (I suppose there was that time that I had to steal my own car, but that's fodder for another story.) Of course, I've very often been a passenger and it would have been prudent to make a mental note of where we parked the car, but I seldom remember. However, my phone is an android and there are all sorts of google programs that sort of work in the background. Several months ago or more, Google Maps proudly informed me that they had a record of all the places I had been. At first, I was a little creeped out. Their assurances that I was the only one to see these files was only moderately comforting. Then, though, I looked at it in detail and found they made some serious errors in plotting my course. And not small errors, but showing me miles away from where I had actually been. I tried to correct these errors but more than once the program would not allow the corrections. So I elected to turn the feature (Your timeline) off entirely. Maybe I can write a short story about being tracked by one's phone.

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  25. Heather, I'm so glad you're visiting the Reds today. I come across so many series I'd like to try, and it's hard to keep track of all of them. With my reviewing, I don't always get to fit in all that I want. But, I do remember this great cover on To Catch a Witch and thinking that here's a series that sounds like fun. So, now, I'm adding the Wishcraft mysteries and this book to my wish list and TBR list. And, the GPS watch, that's so cool.

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  26. I love this series so much, it’s such a great read. I always look forward to each new book!

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  27. Sometimes there is nothing you can do but say, "Thank heavens for technology!"
    Libby Dodd

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    1. I find myself cursing it more than anything, but in this case I was really grateful.

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  28. I would really like to listen to the book on audio. Thanks for the chance.

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  29. What a fun story (for us, not so much for your son & his friends). Congrats on the new book & I look forward to reading Darcy's next adventure!

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  30. I have never tried an audio book

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  31. Interesting story. I sometimes "pin" my parking spoton Google Maps when I am in an unfamiliar city. I've read about a guy who "draws" designs for his wife when he runs. I suppose he uses a GPS watch to do it. Maybe someone could leave a message that way. ;-)

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  32. I'd love to win a witchy audiobook. I only have one of your books that I picked up at the library book sale.

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  33. Thank you for this insight into your inspiration! Such an interesting way you used it too! Too funny about the missing car... I'm pretty sure I'd completely panic Haha

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