1. Feature
    How to Start Writing a Mystery Novel

    How to Start Writing a Mystery Novel

    How to Start Writing a Mystery Novel By Steven Axelrod

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    The hardest part of writing a mystery novel is starting. I have a friend who dreads launching into the actual text of his book so much that he’s been writing ever more complete outlines for more than five years. The ...

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  2. Feature
    Found and Bespoke: When Mystery Writers Mislead

    Found and Bespoke: When Mystery Writers Mislead

    Found and Bespoke: When Mystery Writers Mislead By Steven Axelrod

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    People at book signings often wonder if there’s some trick or secret technique for writing a mystery. They ask about plot, as if that were the key. The plot is an engine, but engineering the spark plugs is the more ...

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  3. Feature
    A Thief in Cleveland: Writing My Debut Novel

    A Thief in Cleveland: Writing My Debut Novel

    A Thief in Cleveland: Writing My Debut Novel By Annie Hogsett

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    Where do I get my ideas? I steal them. One of the metric ton of things I’m fussing about with the release of my first novel, Too Lucky to Live, is: What sort of questions am I likely to get ...

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  4. Feature
    Diana Gabaldon Discusses “A Clash of Spheres”

    Diana Gabaldon Discusses “A Clash of Spheres”

    By Poisoned Pen Press

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      The following essay is by New York Times best-selling author of the Outlander series, Diana Gabaldon. This is one of the most entertaining, elegant and deeply emotional books I’ve read in years. (I’m tempted just to write “EEEEEEEEE!” to ...

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  5. Feature
    Cultural Diversity in Mystery Novels: Part II

    Cultural Diversity in Mystery Novels: Part II

    Cultural Diversity in Mystery Novels: Part II By Triss Stein

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    In December, I wrote about including real life diversity in mystery fiction. Depictions and plots that reflect that are an important part of the issue, but it does not end there. Deeper and more complicated is the question of how ...

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  6. Feature
    Staying Human: Orwell’s “1984” Revisited

    Staying Human: Orwell’s “1984” Revisited

    Staying Human: Orwell’s “1984” Revisited By Steven Axelrod

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    George Orwell’s 1984 is riding the bestseller lists again, spurred by Kellyann Conway’s ominous reference to “alternative facts” when discussing the crowds at President Trump’s inauguration. This passage from 1984 leapt to many people’s minds: In the end, the party would announce ...

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  7. Feature
    Pulling Out the Nail: Writing Lessons With Irvin Kershner

    Pulling Out the Nail: Writing Lessons With Irvin Kershner

    Pulling Out the Nail: Writing Lessons With Irvin Kershner By Steven Axelrod

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    I’ve been thinking about film director Irvin Kershner, as I work on a flat scene that desperately needs a jump start. Kershner died a few years ago, and even then I hadn’t seen him in decades — since an extraordinary ...

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  8. Feature
    Cultural Diversity in Mystery Novels

    Cultural Diversity in Mystery Novels

    Cultural Diversity in Mystery Novels By Triss Stein

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    While it is possible to find mysteries, from fluffiest to darkest, that take place in the author’s version of never-never land, I prefer mysteries set in some semblance of the real world. There, diversity equals reality. How do we incorporate ...

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  9. Feature
    Where Did Joey Getchie Come From?

    Where Did Joey Getchie Come From?

    Where Did Joey Getchie Come From? By Bill Cameron

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    Joey Getchie may be 16 years old, but he’s been with me more than three decades. He first appeared on a manuscript page—and in 1983 it was an actual sheet of paper rolled into a typewriter—as one of the protagonists ...

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  10. Feature
    My First Literary Crush

    My First Literary Crush

    My First Literary Crush By Steven Axelrod

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    As a kid I read hungrily and furtively, devouring comic books and Hardy Boys novels the same way I gobbled Mounds bars and Ring Dings. I borrowed every Albert Payson Terhune novel I could excavate from the dusty stacks of ...

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  11. Feature
    Where Do Characters Come From?

    Where Do Characters Come From?

    Where Do Characters Come From? By Tina Whittle

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    When I first met Tai Randolph, the protagonist of my series, I didn’t know her name. I knew only that the person I was meeting was quick and smart and had a head full of riotous dirty blonde curls. I ...

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  12. Feature
    When Writing is Like Landing a Plane

    When Writing is Like Landing a Plane

    When Writing is Like Landing a Plane By Steven Axelrod

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    Writing a transition for my book as I flew into Kennedy airport, I realized that my job and the pilot’s job weren’t all that different. Of course his takes years of training, the mastery of a highly complex machine, and ...

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  13. Feature
    When Setting Becomes a Character

    When Setting Becomes a Character

    When Setting Becomes a Character By Jeffrey Siger

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    For those of you in the market for indispensable elements of mystery writing, you’ve come to the right place. As I see it, a mystery is composed of six indispensable elements: characters, dialog, plot, point of view, setting, and tension. ...

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  14. Feature
    The Exposition Paradox

    The Exposition Paradox

    The Exposition Paradox By Steven Axelrod

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    I first noticed the exposition paradox when I was reading “The DaVinci Code,” a few years ago. It was not a favorite of mine, and I only slogged through it to the end because I had promised my mother I’d ...

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  15. Feature
    Create Your Own Reality

    Create Your Own Reality

    Many years ago I wrote a book set in Australia. It was while I was researching Aboriginal religions for this book that I first learned about “pointing the bone.” “Pointing the bone” is a ritual curse that Aborigine shamans perform ...

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  16. Feature
    Who Should Tell Your Story?

    Who Should Tell Your Story?

    An online discussion among several of my fellow Poisoned Pen Press authors got me thinking about the one decision every fiction author must make before typing CHAPTER 1 at the top of the page. That decision? Who will tell your ...

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  17. Feature
    It Makes A Better Story

    It Makes A Better Story

    Most people I know profess to not like film biopics.  “That’s not really the way it happened,” is the customary complaint.  For reply, I usually quote the novelist Stanley Elkin, from his masterpiece, The Living End.  Ellerbee, Elkin’s protagonist, demands ...

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  18. Feature
    Authorpreneuring

    Authorpreneuring

      In a radio interview I heard Merle Streep say she was lucky because she knew pretty much how good she was or wasn’t at different skills. What a gift, I thought. I was in Tucson when I heard that ...

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