Writing in Shorts– Micki Browning

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I had the pleasure of interviewing Micki in 2016. She is an interesting person and very good writer. I urge you to read anything you can by her. Not only her latest release Beached, but also her short story “F is for Fruitcake”, in the Happy Homicides 6 anthology.

Micki Browning worked in municipal law enforcement for more than two decades, retiring as a division commander. Now a full-time writer, she won the 2015 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence and the Royal Palm Literary Award for her debut mystery, ADRIFT. BEACHED, the second Mer Cavallo Mystery launches January 10th, 2018.

beached_browning Micki Browning Author photo Micki Adrift_Browning

This is interview nine of fourteen celebrating the authors of Happy Homicides 6: Cooking Up Crime.

 

When and why did you begin writing “in shorts”? Is it harder or easier than full-length novels?

Writing short stories isn’t so much a matter of it being harder or easier than writing a novel, it’s just different—and quicker! My first fiction credit was a short story. I had been working on a novel, and the short story was a bit of a lark (the story was based on a writing prompt and I just ran with it). Short story writing is a great way for budding authors to build their resume. The shorter format also provides an opportunity to experiment with story, voice, point of view, and character without investing the time required to complete a novel. I find myself turning to short stories when I’m on vacation or need to work out a plot point on my novel-in-progress. Changing formats always seems to break something loose in my mind.

What is your favorite short story anthology beside the Happy Homicide series?

I’m partial to Dangerous Women.  It contains stories by Diana Gabaldon, Jim Butcher, Lev Grossman, George R.R. Martin (who also is credited with editing the anthology), and many more. As the title suggests, there are no shrinking violets in its pages. But you can’t go wrong with any of the “Best Of” anthologies and many authors now have their own collections of shorts.

As an author, what has been your most embarrassing moment, typo, or gaffe?

Oh boy. I don’t usually write stories that contain recipes. That said, my Mer Cavallo Mystery series is set in the Florida Keys, and nothing is more representative of the Keys than Key lime pie. As part of my promotional materials, I printed up postcards that show the cover of Adrift on the front and my Key lime pie recipe on the back. I can’t tell you how many people proofread that copy, but darn if it doesn’t say “better” instead of “butter” in the list of ingredients for the crust. A mere thousand postcards later, I’m hoping most people used ready-made pie crusts….

Micki, your next short story should be “Betty Botter’s Better Butter”.

What is your favorite vacation spot to be in shorts? (I want you to say Miami, but no pressure. wink)

The Florida Keys! I love being able to wear shorts any day of the year—and it’s close enough to Miami for a fabulous daytrip. When I moved to the Keys from Colorado, I knew I was going to have to adjust to a more laid-back lifestyle, but I hadn’t given much thought to how that was going to impact my wardrobe choices. Shorts, flip-flops, wetsuits… ah, paradise!

Since this edition of Happy Homicides is food themed, I have to ask—What is your favorite comfort food?

I have a confession. I love fruitcake–the darker and spicier the better. Brew a bracing cup of black tea to go with it, and all is well in my world.

Please visit and connect with Micki Browning via her social media.

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Please check back next week for another great author & interview. Happy Homicides 6: Cooking Up Crime is available on kindle for $3.99 or free if you are an unlimited member. Read Micki’s short story “F is for Fruitcake” along with 14 other food-themed stories including mine “Fish Fried”.

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North Florida is not Southern!

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I say that with all the love in the world.  Honestly, I do. I was born in North Georgia. My mother’s heritage is Southern. I get the Southern thing. My accent changes when I cross the Fla-Ga line. Hell, I have a “catch all” plate next to my laptop that reads “I’m fixin’ to” . . .  I don’t drink out of a mason jar because I know the only thing one would drink out of a mason jar is moonshine. My grand-dad told me about going up in the hills and down in the holler to get ‘shine for the big New Year’s Eve shin-dig. I’ve got Southern cred to “East Egypt” (as the expression goes) and back. That said . . . North Florida is NOT Southern nor is it tropical like South Florida (Broward, Dade and Monroe). I was expecting a little of the Southern hospitality of an offer of a glass of sweet tea but that is not North Florida. North Florida is Cracker. And Cracker is country but not “honey-child” – “sweet pea” Southern country. The term Cracker has its own dark history of racism and I urge you to research it on your own. I am using it to refer to the cow folk – frontier folk – scrub brush – horse country nature of North Florida.

Recently, I drove through North Florida on my way to Atlanta for work. (Not writing related work. My day job related work.) I have driven that route 2-3 times a year  since I got my licenses. I will not be doing the math for you but suffice to say I have driven it many many times. I usually just zoom up the road without a stop other than a pit stop in Ocala. This trip I finally allowed for some time to stop and enjoy the antique shops that are advertised on the highway billboards.  History and cultural lovers that we are (me, the SO and the teen) we love antique shops. The first stop was Traditions in Wildwood. 30,000 square feet of dust and treasures. It was there that I found this gem:

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The part you can’t see are  the measurement. The higher your native-ness the more you get to drink.

Snowbird 2oz

Landlubber 4 oz

Surfer 6 oz

Mate 8 oz

Captain 10 oz.

This is now my everyday glass. I love it. This is the Florida native I understand.  This is South Florida native-ism. Are you comfortable on a boat, cutting bait, and covered in salt? If yes then you get to drink a little more than the light-weight snowbird (6 month resident just down to enjoy the mild winters). I moved to Miami when I was 6 yrs old. I spent summers fishing with my dad in the Keys. That is the Florida I know and that is South Florida.

We visited another antique mall just off the Florida Turnpike set up on a hill. To get to it you drive passed a ramshackle storefront that bills itself as having Cracker and primitive antiques (sadly it was not open) and up a gravel road with curtains of Spanish moss. When you walk in what looks like a red barn but is actually a concrete two-story warehouse you are not expecting to see Asian treasures the size of linebackers. It was a lovely place.

Anyway, if you want to explore the differences between South and North Florida I have a few mystery  books to recommend.

Deborah Sharp‘s Mama series set in North Florida.

And Liv Spector’s The Rich and The Dead set in the South Beach playground of the uber rich .

 

And then of course for the wacky (both North and South Florida) read Carl Hiaasen.  I really liked Nature Girl.