Category: #inspiration


I raised four kids, spent years taking care of my mother, have survived illness and grief and various other disasters, so when I say that I consider myself not easily distracted, I mean it. Come hell or high water or Super Storm Sandy, I get up at 6:00 a.m. and work on my novel. But this past week a momentous event happened in my life, and for the first time I can remember, I simply could not get my mind to focus. This event was my little granddaughter’s baptism. Over the past week my daughter, son-in-law and little granddaughter arrived. My son and his girlfriend flew in from London. My other son arrived, but his wife got sick, and so I was worried about her. My sister-in-law flew in from Colorado and 40 plus other friends and relatives converged. Meanwhile my husband and I raced to make our house as clean as possible. We assembled food, cleaned dishes, cleaned dishes, cleaned dishes. And I sat on the floor and played with my granddaughter. My mind went right out the window. I figured that I would move my wake-up time to 5:00 a.m., and that way I’d be able to get […]

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What is your superpower?

Do you have superpowers? How about the characters in your mystery novels? I was reading mystery author and fabulous agent Paula Munier’s recent blog post on Career Authors, titled GO FOR BROKE: 6 Ways to Make Your Story Stand Out. One of her suggestions was that the best protagonists have superpowers, “that is, something that sets them apart from your run-of-the-mill characters. They don’t have to fly faster than a speeding bullet, but they should have some quality, ability, or talent that makes them smarter, braver, wiser, something more than the rest of us.”  That got me thinking about my protagonist, Maggie Dove, and what her superpowers might be. She’s a person of faith, and I think that’s a huge superpower. I hope that gives her courage, and hope. She’s also a good listener and because of that, she’s able to get people to talk. (I do sort of wish she could fly though.) When I asked my fellow mystery-writing Miss Demeanors, I discovered their characters had a wealth of superpowers!   Emilya Naymark Self delusion! Ha! Seriously, though, my protagonist, Laney Bird, is excellent at being an undercover because she can act. She can transform her looks and behavior […]

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Letters From Beyond the Grave: In Fiction and Real Life

Spoiler Alert! The Letter in Fiction In series six of the popular crime fiction television show, Shetland, Donna is on her death bed when she asks Duncan to post a letter for her. That letter is received and opened after Donna’s demise and causes a whole lot of trouble. My lawyer-self said to my viewer-self, “that can’t happen! Everyone knows that letter is hearsay and thus inadmissible. Evidence Rule 802.” My viewer-self retorted: “Yeah, what the Linehan trial?” This was a case widely reported nationally a few years ago including on NBC’s Dateline and CBS’ 48 Hours. Dead Man Named His Killer, The Letter in Real Life Mechele Linehan was an exotic dancer in Anchorage who, through the course of her employment, met one Kent Leppink and one John Carlin III. She was living with both of them in 1996. Leppink was obsessed with her. He told people that she was his fiancé. He even purchased a $1 million life insurance policy naming her as his beneficiary. But he began to suspect she was having an affair with Carlin. Five days before his death, he changed the beneficiary to his father. His body was dumped near Hope, Alaska, shot to death. […]

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Publishing roulette

I spent last weekend at the NY Pitch Conference, working with authors who were pitching their books to publishing agents and editors. Very exciting. Very nerve-wrecking, and very unpredictable! One editor will love a book, the next editor will hate the exact same book, and a third will look just bored. It’s like playing roulette. You just don’t know where you’re going to land. Some years ago I attended the same exact conference, but then I was one of the authors, not a workshop leader. I was hoping to sell my first novel, The Fiction Class. Bad news, better news, good news You can only imagine my trepidation when I approached the first editor. I’d never met a book editor before. This young woman was from one of the big publishing houses. I gave her my pitch. She peered at me and said, “No one will want to read that.” I had one of those moments when time seems to stop and the tips of your fingers go numb. However, I persevered. Met with two other editors who were more pleasant, though not interested, and then finally, on the last day of the conference, I met with the very last […]

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Vacation Reading: a Mystery Novel, a Memoir, another Mystery Novel, and Vampires

I finally got to travel last week, and I loaded my kindle with plenty of reading material. Four in one week is not my personal best, that is reserved for the vacation where I read a book a day, ran out of books, and had to find a bookstore in a panic before the flight home. Obviously before kindles. I read a mystery novel (times 2), a memoir, and a sliver of vampire fiction by Octavia Butler, who never disappoints in the “taking a trope and turning it inside out, on its head, and sideways” department.

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The Point of Words

Although many living things communicate with each other (my dog certainly feels a burning need to let me know the mail has arrived the very moment it does), humans, at least on this planet, are the only ones who have language. And novels. And stories. And Instagram.

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