True Lies in Cromwell’s Folly

Writing is like dreaming with our eyes open. And, it’s also like lying — very convincing lying. In our dreams, anything can happen: tumbling through the sky to our deaths, besting an enemy in battle, or being embraced by endless love. Dreams are where we practice skills (like flying), where we put two and two together, where insights come from — particularly useful for a detective like Sam Lagarde. For more of this guest blog on go here:

Setting the Hook

In the middle of the night several years ago, I was researching how to write a murder mystery. I came upon a set of guidelines which began, “Find the body.” There may have been more to that instruction, but that’s what I wrote down on a pink Post-it note along with six other brief mystery milestones that fit on a two-by-two inch piece of paper. I put the note on my desk, and from time to time read it over when my mind strayed from other tasks. For the rest of this guest blog on, click here:

Everything you ever wanted to know…

Recently, I was asked to answer a few questions for Carolyn Howard Johnson’s blog. Carolyn is the author of the Frugal Book Promoter. I leaped at the opportunity. Just in case you don’t see her blog, I’m posting the questions and responses here. 1. What is your genre? Is it fiction or nonfiction? Fiction/murder mysteries 2. What made you want to be a writer? I like to read. 3. Of all the authors out there, who inspired you most? Alexander Dumas and Jane Austen as a teenager; right now Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. Each writer teaches… Read More

Doing the Marketing

My agent sends me a sale sheet. Send it out to everyone, she writes. Let’s get some sales going. Of course, I thought I had done that already with the website, Facebook author posts, press releases, readings, book signings, Twitter. I pause what I’m doing, which is writing the next novel. I read the sales sheet, correct a few typos, grammatical errors, formatting mistakes. I read it over again. This is marketing. It’s the new century. Now, not only do we writers write the books, we get to market them also. I sigh. I don’t want to do this. I… Read More

Killing It

Writing your first novel is like committing your first murder. You’re tentative. You hesitate. Your weak stabs don’t penetrate. You fumble, drop the thought, run away screaming. You peek around the door jamb to see if the body is still there where you left it, not breathing, or worse, moaning, “Come back, come back; finish the job.” But if you’re really intent on doing this thing, you learn to make the cuts deeper, to twist the rope harder, to hang on longer until it’s done. When the madness passes, you step back from the body and survey the scene. Did… Read More

Cue the Characters

Each new character who shows up in a story presents herself in a certain way, almost like an actor making her first entrance on the stage. She might sweep her long, blonde hair off her shoulder, or give me a glare, or stand with her hand on her hip waiting for me to say the first word. Or she could flounce into the middle of the page and declare her ownership of the entire story. I always have the feeling she’s been looking for me and is a little impatient with how long it’s taken me to find her. Our… Read More

Back Story

Sometimes, what doesn’t wind up in a story tells you as much about a character as what does. When I was finding Beverly Wilson, murder victim Ben Cromwell’s grandmother, I wrote a longish section that described some of her motivation for moving to Falling Waters, WV. The section didn’t make it into the novel, mostly because it wasn’t necessary. But just to give you a taste of what Beverly is like, and why Detective Sam Lagarde might have fallen in love with her, here’s her back story. Planting and weeding in the small garden behind her townhouse was the closest thing… Read More

Upper Hand

  My husband used to say to me, “Honey, you’ve got quite an imagination.” It was a deflection. If I imagined something happened, it couldn’t possibly be true. What I’ve discovered by writing fiction is that nothing I can imagine isn’t true. Truth, as the saying goes, is stranger than fiction. No matter how far-fetched a plot contrivance seems, no matter how evil the character who seems to be seeping out of the keys on my computer, no matter how beautiful the sunset I have tried to paint into words on a page, somewhere it has happened; it is real…. Read More