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The Mighty Pulitzer: Learning From the Books

The Mighty Pulitzer: Learning From the Books

  Last month the winners of the Pulitzer Prize were announced with great fanfare. I’m a fan of this award and it surprises me when learned people who know a lot claim the books are not that good. Huh! The general ...

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Of Memento Mori and Mourning Brooches

Of Memento Mori and Mourning Brooches

  Since What Gold Buys ended up as a bit of an exploration of “life after death” (circa 1880s), I was on the hunt throughout the story’s creation for items and images that would tell me more about the customs, ...

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Altered States of Writing

Altered States of Writing

  I, Donis, am just finishing up my ninth novel in the Alafair Tucker series. I only need to write segues and explain loose ends. I shouldn’t need more than an extra five or six thousand words. The only problem ...

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On Finding Your Own Voice

On Finding Your Own Voice

  A couple of months back I wrote a post here about what I saw as the basic structure of the crime novel. I titled it, “A Witch’s Hat Structure for Writing Crime Novels,” based on a month-long university mystery ...

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The Problem With Self-Promotion

The Problem With Self-Promotion

Guest blog this month by Mary’s co-author Eric The Guardian Stones is an exciting departure for us. Set in the UK during WWII, a much different period than our Byzantine mysteries, it is also different in tone, darker perhaps, owing ...

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Astrology: The Clues to My Characters

Astrology: The Clues to My Characters

There is a phenomenon in astrology called the Saturn return. Now I am no astrologer, but the gist of it is this: it’s an astrological transit that occurs when the planet Saturn returns to the same place in the sky ...

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Misdirection Is Everything in Mystery Writing

Many (really, very many) years ago I took a course about mystery writing. The teacher was also an amateur magician. At the last class he performed a trick and then showed us how it was done. “You direct the audience ...

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The Physical Perils of Writing

The Physical Perils of Writing

The uninitiated may think that writing is an occupation without physical peril, but in truth it’s very hard on the body as well as the mind and spirit. I, Donis, am often bothered by lots of physical problems when I ...

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The Manuscript in the Desk Drawer

The Manuscript in the Desk Drawer

History is replete with accounts of unpublished manuscripts left in frustration in desk drawers, then discovered years after the death of their creator.  I never imagined I’d be party to such a situation, and strictly speaking, I wasn’t. No desk ...

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Research: The Good, The Bad, and The Quirky

Research: The Good, The Bad, and The Quirky

I was working on an interview recently when I came across the question that all mystery writers are familiar with: What is the craziest thing you have ever done in the name of research?

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What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?

  One of the questions I get when I speak to groups about my writing is how I pick names for my characters, and my answer usually surprises people. As most of you know (or darn well should know), my ...

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The Spooky Connection Between News and Fiction

The Spooky Connection Between News and Fiction

I intended to write about my first visit to Left Coast Crime. There was a big presence for Poisoned Pen there. Or maybe about my casual encounters – there have been several – with people who told me about family ...

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Find Your Muse: Quick, Grab Her!

Find Your Muse: Quick, Grab Her!

Some days it’s a little less chasing the muse, and all about finding her. I often hear of authors talk about how they are burnt out, and trying to find ways to capture/rekindle/find the muse again. Whether drawing in the ...

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Writing: Am I Doing It Wrong?

Writing: Am I Doing It Wrong?

The main reason for an author to attend a fan convention—a mystery convention, in my case—is to connect with readers. Right? I hope that I can make more people aware of what I write, hoping that some of them will ...

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My First Draft Makes Me Ponder the ‘Stupidity Hypothesis’

My First Draft Makes Me Ponder the ‘Stupidity Hypothesis’

Since I am at the Left Coast Crime Conference today, I am reposting a blog entry I wrote for Type M 4 Murder back in 2013. Since I am at this moment about to finish the first draft of yet ...

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A Witch’s Hat Structure for Writing Crime Novels

A Witch’s Hat Structure for Writing Crime Novels

Having just finished up a month long stint teaching mystery writing to college students and wanting to write about that experience for this blog, I wondered what I could say beyond simply stating the obvious: Teaching is as much a ...

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The Tough Second Act of a Novel

The Tough Second Act of a Novel

By: Jeanne Matthews When F. Scott Fitzgerald said there are no second acts in American lives, he didn’t mean there are no second chances.  Scholars of his writing believe that statement referred to the three-act structure of screenwriting, a conceptual scheme ...

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Being Earnest About Hemingway

Being Earnest About Hemingway

A few weeks ago I was wandering the mysteries section of our wonderful local library, and was surprised to find, on the H shelf, a book by Ernest Hemingway. I was not aware that he had ever written in the genre, ...

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