Writing Advice from Confessed Chocolate Lover and Book Review of Theft By Chocolate
Today I do something I’ve never done here at Writer’s Fun Zone: I feature a book review AND an author article, both about the new fun mystery, Theft by Chocolate by Luba Lesychyn. We’re also featuring a book giveaway for a copy of Luba’s book here on this blog, so comment below to enter. Lastly, you can enter Luba’s Grand Prize Giveaway for a $150 gift certificate for chocolate. Yes, I did say Chocolate! Comment to enter! Read Luba’s post and answer this question: How do you add depth to your writing?
I don’t usually read cozy mysteries, so don’t know where these fall in the spectrum… All I do know is that I enjoyed this story. Still days later, the main character Kalena talks in my head. And I wonder what she’s up to next. I hope the author has another story about Kalena and her museum capers on the works! I should add that I also enjoyed the setting of Toronto and the rarified air of a national museum. And I loved the European angle. I could relate to Kalena’s 40-year-old body issues and digged her chocolate obsession. Now I have more chocolates to taste. I recommend this book, if you like fun stories with humor and a little mystery. My only critique is that I would have like less active verbs, sometimes. I know — less! I needed a little breathing room while reading. But that may be just this reader’s preference. 🙂
Enjoy Luba’s article below on what she has to say about where to get the best writing advice. And be sure to comment to enter her book giveaway for your very own copy of Theft By Chocolate. Read Luba’s post and answer this question: How do you add depth to your writing? to enter.
The Mystery in Everyday Miracles
Writers often pick up tips about their craft in formal settings such as workshops and classes, but sometimes the best gems are gleaned in rather unusual locations.
Of the many hats I wear, one is as a yoga instructor. I was as surprised as anyone when an experience at a yoga conference had a significant impact on the novel I was writing, Theft By Chocolate, a sassy museum mystery about a woman of a certain age looking for chocolate, love, and an international art thief in all the wrong places.
I was still in the initial stages of the book when I participated in a yoga session called “Everyday Miracles” led by internationally renowned yogini Seane Corn. Throughout the physically grueling class, Corn’s profound narrative challenged us to stop putting so much emphasis on pursuits that create “big wows” in our lives and, instead, to begin noticing the wonder in the smallest moments.
This suggestion resonated with me on so many levels. As far as my writing, it sent me in a new direction.
From the beginning of my creative process I knew I wanted to set my story in a museum, a world with which I was very intimate as I had been working at Canada’s largest museum for more than twenty years. And I wanted to construct my story around a protagonist addicted to chocolate, because that was a character with which I was excessively familiar.
At that time, the plot was a work in progress. I had been diligently working on a page-turning adventure, but I wasn’t convinced I had a work that was fresh, that readers hadn’t seen before. Lots of stories are set in museums – what was so different about mine?
It was on that bone-chillingly damp Sunday morning in Toronto, in a bleak conference centre room filled with 200 yoga practitioners, most of whom were looking for a serious physical practice or hoping to find spiritual enlightenment that a very different kind of insight came to me.
The cast of characters I worked with daily were stranger – and often funnier – than fiction. And the types of things I encountered in my everyday work routine and considered mundane were what others might find fascinating. It was time to notice, discover and describe the everyday miracles of my life and weave those into my story.
So, I found the magic in my day-to-day world and suddenly taking on new prominence were moments such as encountering someone in a hallway pushing a cart of ancient Egyptian mummified cats or experiencing uneasiness while working late in a building rumored to have ghostly occupants. Even some of my own embarrassing “moments,” like covering up chocolate bar wrappers in my trash bin so the cleaning staff wouldn’t see how much chocolate I had eaten in a week, became material for the story. Interweaving such anecdotes, I realized, would give my readers a behind-the-scenes access to museum life and to the life of a chocolate addict that they may never have previously experienced.
It would be a new layer to my story that readers could cling onto firmly while they journeyed through my universe. The backdrop would no longer be a flat curtain, it would be a three-dimensional character in its own right, with quirks and flaws and redeeming qualities.
I was fortunate to have such a wealth of unusual stories in a distinctive setting to draw upon for my novel, but so many of the other stories I have percolating within my creative spirit have nothing to do with museums.
My challenge as a writer will be to create a hologram for every tale, even if it’s set somewhere as commonplace as a convenience store. Depending on the story, “big wows” will still have a place in my work, as they do, in Theft By Chocolate. I am convinced that it will be the everyday miracles that I share with readers that will encourage them to keep coming back for more.
Chocolate addict Kalena Boyko wasn’t prepared for this. Heading to work at Canada’s largest museum as an administrator, she hopes for quiet and uninterrupted access to her secret chocolate stash. Instead she’s assigned to manage the high-profile Treasures of the Maya exhibition with her loathed former boss, Richard Pritchard.
With no warning, her life is capsized and propelled into warp speed as she stumbles across an insider plot that could jeopardize the exhibit and the reputation of the museum.
After hearing about a recent botched theft at the museum and an unsolved jewel heist in the past from security guard and amateur sleuth Marco Zeffirelli, Kalena becomes suspicious of Richard and is convinced he’s planning to sabotage the Treasures of the Maya exhibition.
Her suspicions, and the appearance of the mysterious but charming Geoffrey Ogden from the London office, don’t help her concentration. The Treasures of the Maya seems cursed as problem after problem arises, including the disappearance of the world’s oldest piece of chocolate, the signature object in the exhibit.
Theft by Chocolate is inspired by a real-life and never-solved heist at a Canadian museum in the 1980s.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Soon after finishing her graduate studies in history, Luba Lesychyn (le-si-shin) landed on the doorstep of Canada’s largest museum, the Royal Ontario Museum, where she worked for more than twenty years as an educator and consultant. Theft By Chocolate is Luba’s debut novel, though she has been amusing people with her writing since the age of eight. Her love of chocolate precedes this age and she has been in and out of chocolate rehab for most of her adult life. She currently works in the educational sector and teaches yoga in her home town of Toronto. When not writing or looking for her next chocolate fix, Luba can be found in dance classes, trekking to remote waterfalls in the mountain rain forest in Puerto Rico, running through the streets of Paris or doing any other number of calorie-burning activities that help offset the calories consumed in her chocolate intake.
Giveaways: copy of Theft By Chocolate and $150 Certificate
There are two chances to win!
1) Copy of Theft By Chocolate as ebook or print copy (winner’s choice). Answer this question in the comments section (be sure to provide your email): How do you add depth to your writing? In five days, a lucky winner from this blog will win a free copy of Theft By Chocolate!
2) $150 Gift Certificate Giveaway
Do you love chocolate as much as Kalena, the heroine in Theft By Chocolate? Here’s your chance to indulge in $150 US worth! The Giveaway Grand Prize is a gift certificate to a delectable chocolate online retailer. Winner chooses from one of three sites: http://www.chocosphere.com/, http://www.hotelchocolat.co.uk/ , or http://www.dlea.com.au/ . To be eligible for the Grand Prize, enter the Rafflecopter below. Remember to sign up for Luba’s email announcements (worth five entries). On occasion she’ll send out exclusive announcements for special events, blog posts, giveaways and free swag! On July 31st, the winner will be chosen at random and notified via email.