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Did You Meet A Killer Today?

Did You Meet A Killer Today?

Agatha Christie once opined: “Every murderer is somebody’s old friend.” It’s a reality we mystery writers exploit every time we plot a whodunit. We insert our guilty party into scene after scene with people who once dated this person, who ...

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What Does a Crossword Puzzle Have to do With Mystery Writing?

What Does a Crossword Puzzle Have to do With Mystery Writing?

Crossword puzzles are about words, as is writing, so they should be connected, right? It’s time to revisit this topic, which I touched on a few years back. Regular readers of this blog may recall from that post that I ...

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A Lifetime of Networking

A Lifetime of Networking

Last week I attended the Western Writers convention in Cheyenne Wyoming. My first convention was in 1982. It was a brave, brave move on my part. I had just finished writing a historical novel about homesteading in Western Kansas. Ironically, ...

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Writing to the Headlights

  I keep trying different processes for writing mystery novels like some people try new diets. Someone tells me about another writer’s great book on how to write a mystery, and I inevitably buy it. I read three chapters…and then ...

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No Need to Stumble While Naming Names

No Need to Stumble While Naming Names

Ann Parker here, musing over the February post of PPP author Charlotte Hinger, How to Keep Track of Characters. It’s a great post, and I encourage you to take a look if you didn’t catch it first time around (or ...

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How Do I Choose a Great Title?

How Do I Choose a Great Title?

Tell me, please! I, Donis, have just finished the first draft of a new manuscript, and I am having some trouble coming up with a great title. When my friends and family hear that a new book is underway, one ...

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A Writer’s Most Important Book

I’ve had the great joy in recent years of twice teaching an intense college level course on mystery writing. On the third day of class I gave my students the only objective test in my course, one based on The ...

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Plot Construction Advice From Edyth Fermoy-Jones

I recently finished reading the country house murder mystery Thirteen Guests by J. Jefferson Farjeon, a British Library Crime Classic reprint published by Poisoned Pen Press, and was amused to see it included advice to writers on the same topic ...

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When Events Go Wrong

When Events Go Wrong

Last weekend I witnessed one of the most glorious examples of how to recover when an event goes astray. My granddaughter was married in Manteo North Carolina and the bride, groom, and the parents had worked hard to create a ...

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From Research to Writing in Three Days

From Research to Writing in Three Days

Stephen King has written a lot of wonderful words, but it’s his quotes on the process of writing that resonate with me the most. Most months, I most appreciate his thoughts on reading: “If you don’t have time to read, ...

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Faces from the Past

Faces from the Past

I’ve decided to return to my little collection of images from the past,  including many faces that have provided inspiration and guidance of one type or another for my fictional forays.

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It’s a Mystery: Wise Words About Writing

It’s a Mystery: Wise Words About Writing

I recently received in the mail a copy of the 70th Anniversary Edgar Allan Poe Awards Dinner Annual publication from Mystery Writers of America. I’ve never made it to the Edgar awards dinner, but I always read the Edgar Awards ...

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Building Blocks for Mystery Writers

Building Blocks for Mystery Writers

  I’m flying high over this post. Literally, because when it goes live I’ll be in the air on my way to Mykonos and the start of my writing summer. So, what to write about on the cusp of such ...

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Plot Construction Advice From Dr. Tom Greenslade

Plot Construction Advice From Dr. Tom Greenslade

In The Three Hostages, Dr. Greenslade has useful advice on constructing plots and he offers it to Richard Hannay, protagonist of The Thirty-Nine Steps and several other novels by John Buchan. The First World War is over and Hannay, now ...

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Walk-Up Songs for Mystery Detectives

Time for my annual baseball post. Last year I wrote one on the Top Ten Baseball Walk-up Songs in Literature. For the uninitiated, a walk-up song is that hard rock, hip hop, or country tune that blares over the speakers throughout ...

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Understanding Literary Collaborations

Understanding Literary Collaborations

The great Fats Waller said it all.  “One never knows … do one?” Way back in 2010, when I finished writing my ragtime historical mystery trilogy, I had an idea for my next book: a mystery set in ragtime history ...

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Can Tattoos Be Crucial to the Story?

Can Tattoos Be Crucial to the Story?

I got my first tattoo when I was thirty-seven. It’s a simple infinity heart, inscribed in black lines on the inside of my left wrist, right at the pulse point. I got it during a particularly rough summer, one of ...

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Another Journey to the Next Mystery

Another Journey to the Next Mystery

If there is such a thing as writer’s block, that may be what I’m going through now. My next book, Return to Umbria, is being copy edited as you read this, and is scheduled for November publication. It will be ...

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