If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book next year, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our March author interviews: Karen Pullen (3/1), Lowcountry Crime authors: Tina Whittle, Polly Iyer, Jonathan M. Bryant, and James M. Jackson (3/8), Annette Dashofy (3/15), Edith Maxwell (3/22) and Barb Ross (3/29).

Saturday Guest Bloggers in March: Maris Soule (3/4), and Virginia Mackey (3/11). WWK Saturday bloggers write on 3/18--Margaret S. Hamilton and on 3/25--Kait Carson.

Julie Tollefson won the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter's Holton Award for best unpublished manuscript (member category) for her work in progress, In The Shadows. Big news for a new year. Congratulations, Julie.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

Linda Rodriquez has two pending book publications. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel will be released by Scapegoat Press on November 29th. Every Family Doubt, the fourth Skeet Bannion mystery, is scheduled for release on June, 13, 2017. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Linda here in June!

Cross Genre Publications anthology, Hidden Youth, will contain Warren Bull's "The Girl, The Devil, and The Coal Mine." The anthology will be released in late November 2016. The We've Been Trumped anthology released by Dark House Press on September 28th contains Warren Bull's "The Wall" short story and KM Rockwood's "A Phone Call to the White House." KM writes under the name Pat Anne Sirs for this volume.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for pre-order.

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Saturday, June 11, 2016

It's All Good By Joan Leotta


Mysteries are one of my favorite reads and the genre I most enjoy putting to paper myself.  However, I'm not a specialist in mysteries. I am what is called an eclectic writer (ok, some say "scattered.") I write in a number of genres in fiction and also write essays, poetry, and have hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles to my credit including personality profiles, food, health, and general community news.

Why don’t I specialize? Some could say it is a lack of ability to concentrate on one thing at a time. (I often have several documents open on my computer at one time.) Yet, all of it "informs" or contributes to my mysteries. Each type of writing has special twists, the research, the dialogue, the imagery—all of those twists make me a better mystery writer. The important thing is to keep writing, write every day—no matter what genre catches your fancy at any particular moment.

In many cases, the idea chooses its own form. I don’t mean to be mystical about it, but an idea comes and as I begin to write, it seems to shape itself. Only a few ideas turn out to be mysteries. All of my writing contributes to making the mysteries I do write, better.

Poetry comes at me in waves. It is a way of seeing the world that is unique among writing forms in that it is concise and unending at the same time. Poetry takes one word, one image and spins it into a whirl of images that have meanings, perhaps more than one, to the writer, and then, when let into the world, a completely new set of meanings to the reader.

This, along with playwriting and my performances is the form that makes it possible for me to weave scenes together, infuse weather with the qualities of an actor in the tale. Am I always successful? No, but without my poetry and my performance experience I could not even begin to give good descriptions.

This started out as a short story that grew out of an idea to do a feature  (non-fiction) on a friend of mine whose romance was the inspiration for this story. My background as a performer and historical researcher made inserting true details easy for me. This is a romance and mystery/spy tale that takes place during WWII. First in my Legacy of Honor series.

 Lumping all of my non-fiction writing, essays, newspaper and magazine articles into one category, provides a crossover effect in the areas of research and looking at real events and objects as possible story prompts.  In addition, researching a topic for an article can uncover anomalies that just shout "Mystery story idea!" Then the research I have done for the real article provides a base for the mystery. Real dialogue also benefits from my work as a journalist. I interview many people. This enables me to hear their voices in response to questions.

Another helper element that comes from the non-fiction writing is the ability to accept criticism and editing. A good editor improves your work. Period. Every word that comes from my pen/computer is not golden. This perspective on myself helps me work with editors for my fiction, and even my poetry! Mystery fiction is a delicate balance between the revealed and the unknown for the reader. Sometimes as a writer, I miss that balance and happily, editors find those holes and enable me to staunch the flow of poorly worded statements or undue flow of factoids so that the reader can interact with words and flow on their own.

This began as a poem and was rejected roundly. I tried it as an essay (it is based on a real experience with my Dad). Finally, I put together my performing for children with the tale and made it into a book for ages 3-7. When I did that, I searched another two years for a publisher and found one in MN who appreciated my father-daughter tale and who like me, liked snow!

As a performer, I am constantly listening in to people as they speak to catch their tone, their accents, everything about their speech, including gestures. My biggest problem is that I tend to go on and on. I need to write shorter sentences. This is something I do in revision. Ah yes, revision! Poetry is another help here—to get one's ideas and emotions through in a three-line or even a twenty-line poem often takes months of agonizing revisions. The first draft comes quickly. Poetry is also a good reminder to read everything aloud. (I admit, sometimes I do not.) Words that can live in the air as well as on the page are much more likely to penetrate the heart of a reader.

I write because I need to put words on paper. And to entertain and encourage others. Even with my humor or mysteries. I love the little twist and so I try to write that way.

Another way these other writings help is with rejection. I know that I am a good writer because my non-fiction has an almost 100 percent acceptance rate. Fiction and poetry are more personal (and creative non-fiction) and so, have a spotty acceptance—at least for me. I am not as practiced in these, my favorite fields. So, when a rejection comes, one that stings, my non-fiction writing keeps my ego propped up while I put the piece away and then take it out to revise so that the next editor will say, "Pleased to accept this piece!"

Moral of this story? Don’t be afraid to tell stories in different ways—fiction, essays, poems. Write as your inner muse commands. Sometimes you may even shift the piece from one form to another (from poem to picture book, from poem to short story, from short story to play, all of which I have done). Keep writing. Do not be discouraged if other forms catch your eye or interest. Write, write, write.

Here I am on a trip to Spain—just back. The photo is me posing with the statue of Colombus in Madrid. During the trip I kept a journal which will act as notes for poems, food articles, and maybe a story of fiction or two, maybe even a mystery!


6 comments:

Warren Bull said...

Good advice.

Jim Jackson said...

I suspect that everything we do (or don’t do) in life informs our writing.

~ Jim

KM Rockwood said...

Nice to hear from someone who successfully explores so many different types of writing. When one seems to stall, you have others to which you can turn.

Amazing to hear you have an almost 100% acceptance rate for your non-fiction. I can't even imagine that!

Thanks for sharing with us.

Margaret Turkevich said...

A varied list of publications. Congratulations!

Gloria Alden said...

I'm impressed with all you write. I write mysteries and poetry, and sometimes essays, but nothing as extensive as what you do.

Linda Thorne said...

You certainly have a wide variety of things you write. I prefer writing mysteries, but at one time I wrote a number of romance short stories (and I don't like writing romance). I wrote them hoping to make money through Woman's World Magazine that was paying a thousand dollars a pop for silly little romance stories so long as they were well written. I couldn't crack Woman's World, but I did publish most of them in other magazines (and made money although a lot less than WW was paying). It's amazing how you can break away from you favored genre. Good post.