Author: Connie Berry

Developing a Writing Plan That Works For You

First a confession: I was never a model student. My early report cards always included comments like “She could do so much better if she tried” and “Getting assignments in on time would help.” Even in college I struggled with a lack of discipline. I cut way too many classes, neglected to study, and left papers until the very last minute.

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When It’s Time to End a Series

The first thing to say is my Kate Hamilton Mystery series is not ending. But I’ve been thinking about this question lately for two reasons. First because I’ve been developing a possible new historical mystery series, which has been fun. Second, because two wonderful series written by writer friends have recently and unexpectedly ended. Why, when the series were doing so well?

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WORDS: Five We Misspell, Five We Mispronounce, and One Pet Peeve

Who cares about spelling anymore? With spelling tests in schools fast disappearing, our children are left to blunder along, trusting in technology to set things right. The upshot? In my opinion, although we may make fewer mistakes on paper, we are losing the ability to spell. And therefore to read. So, in an attempt to stem the tide of illiteracy, I humbly submit five common words just about everyone misspells followed by five words most people mispronounce and one small, very personal pet peeve.

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Question of the Week: Hunting for Easter Eggs

I’ve been thinking about EASTER EGGS recently–and not the kind hidden by the Easter bunny. In fiction, Easter eggs are cultural, literary, or personal references embedded in the text that only a few readers will understand–little gifts for those who find them.

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Hello World, Here I Come!

Launching a new book always feels a little like watching your child climb onto that big yellow school bus for the very first time. There she goes—your baby—into the big, wide world without you. In exactly a week—on May 10th—The Shadow of Memory, the fourth in the Kate Hamilton Mystery series, will make its debut. To celebrate, I’m giving away a signed copy (plus a few other goodies) to one lucky commenter during the month of May.

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Traveling Isn’t For Sissies: My Adventures At Left Coast Crime

With in-person events back in the universe, those of us who’ve spent two years holed up in our writing caves finally have to “people” again. Not as easy as it sounds for introverts. Nor are the perils of travel anything to laugh at—not until later, anyway. Adventures and escapades, mishaps and epic fails become the stories we love to tell. Here are mine, from my recent adventures at Left Coast Crime 2022, a convention for mystery fans, both readers and authors, sponsored jointly by the Southwest Sleuths chapter of Sisters in Crime and both California chapters of Mystery Writers of America. Their purpose is to “host an event where readers, authors, critics, librarians, publishers, and fans can gather to pursue their mutual interests.” This year’s conference was especially important since the last in-person Left Coast Crime, held in San Diego, California, March 2019, was shut down the very day it began. I flew cross-country twice in the space of 24 hours. Now we were back. The day I left Ohio was clear and sunny with a bright blue sky and only a few scattered clouds. I had no clue what to expect. My only acquaintance with Albuquerque had been learning […]

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Author Swag: Love It or Leave It?

Our topic this week is Author Swag.  What’s that, you ask? Basically, author swag is anything an author gives away to readers to promote their books.  Bookmarks are the most common, but I’ve seen all kinds of creative items–miniature book replicas on a keychain, notebooks, pens, coasters, mugs, tote bags, mousepads–all customized with an image of the book or the series the author is trying to promote. One author I know just posted online that she’s packing an entire suitcase with swag for an upcoming conference. Yikes–should I be doing the same? So here’s my question, actually questions (plural): What is the most creative or useful author swag you’ve ever received? Do you think author swag helps sell books? Keenan: The most creative swag I’ve received was an eyeglass cleaning cloth from Debra Goldstein. I kept that thing long past its usefulness. I don’t think swag sells books but it’s good for name recognition. I read somewhere a buyer needs to hear your name seven times before they will purchase, so the bookmark they take home would count towards that. Connie: I’ve never seen a personalized eyeglass cleaner, but that would be definitely useful!  Alexia: I also got one of […]

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The Question Every Writer Asks

Authors know—once you begin writing, there’s no turning back. You’ll never read a book again without noticing stuff like dialogue tags, metaphors, and plot structure. You’ll never meet someone new without, in the back of your mind, filing away certain physical characteristics and mannerisms for future use. You’ll never read printed material without wielding your metaphorical red pencil. And you’ll certainly never observe life around you without asking the question, “What if…?”

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How Shall I Kill Thee? Let Me Count the Ways

One of the challenges mystery writers face is coming up with new ways of killing people. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of methods. If you’re stuck for ideas, all you need to do is consult the classics [warning: may contain spoilers]. In her sixty-six detective novels, Agatha Christie killed dozens of victims by stabbings, gunshots, drownings, hangings, and even strangulation with a ukulele string. But her favorite was poison. More than half Dame Agatha’s victims kicked the bucket by poisoning—arsenic, cyanide, digitalis, hemlock, nicotine, opium, strychnine, you name it. “They can’t be poisoned all the time,” she is reported to have told her editor at HarperCollins. “But I am happier when they are.” Agatha didn’t like blood and gore—just a neat little murder, usually off-stage, because her real interest was the who and the why. At the other end of the murder spectrum is Christie’s contemporary, the New Zealander Ngaio Marsh. While we admire her elegant prose, her wit, and her puzzle plots, it’s the inventiveness of her murders we can’t forget. While her top four methods are pretty standard—stabbing, poison, asphyxiation, and blunt instrument—it’s the grisly circumstances that set her apart. One of her victims was lured into a boiling […]

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