Category: Fiction

The Locked Room Mystery

Book covers

Later this summer I set sail across the Atlantic on the Queen Mary II, the perfect place for a locked room mystery! While much larger than Agatha Christie’s vessel in Death on the Nile, it has a common essential element – no one can come on or off. If you aren’t familiar with the idea of a locked room mystery, here are a few essentials and a confession.

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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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It’s a Mystery: Why I Love Criticism

When I wrote “the end” on the first fiction I’d ever written, I asked my wife to read it. She’s a theater director who has worked with playwrights to improve their plays and I knew I’d get an honest evaluation. She pointed out problems in my writing style and asked questions that got me thinking about the story. I went back to my computer. After several more drafts, I gave the manuscript to friends and a couple of family members to read. Everyone loved it. I felt terrific. But… In my heart I knew it wasn’t good enough. It’s A Mystery: Finding Objective Readers I wanted readers who weren’t invested in my success to tell me what needed to improve to make the manuscript better. But I was new to writing and there was no one in my circle of friends and acquaintances knowledgeable in the art of writing a novel. Lucky for me, I had joined Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime hoping their meetings would provide the knowledge I was missing. And the Mentor Program offered by the New York chapter of MWA was just what I needed. At that time, for fifty dollars an unpublished […]

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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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Writing characters that matter

Cover of When No One is Watching

Some characters make a lasting impression. Whether writing or reading we want characters that are memorable. But in a good way, an authentic way. Perhaps even a character we can learn from. I recently came across a character that stood out from the very beginning.

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Grabbing Mystery Plots from the Headlines

Read about it in the newspapers or see it on TV news and a few weeks later you’re watching a fictionalized account on TV. The weekly Law & Order show is probably the best example of that approach.  I read the New York Times every day and occasionally watch TV news. My mysteries and my romances are influenced by what I read and see, not just the scandalous headline stories but by everyday events and human interest articles. As you may know, I’m a pantser and I do no advance planning or plotting before starting to write. So even though I may have a particular news story in mind when I type the first words of a novel or a short story, the reality is that my subconscious is in charge and that news story is just the jumping off point. Like most authors I devote months and, in some cases, years, plotting and writing a novel. Because of my pantser process, the extended writing time and the more complex exploration possible in the hundreds of pages of a novel, my books are more complex than a forty-five-minute TV show. And by the time I write The End, the book I’ve written […]

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