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

Our October Author Interviews--10/4 Wendy Tyson, 10/11 Marilyn Levinson, 10/18 Earl Javorski, 10/25 Linda Lovely. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.


October Saturday Guest Bloggers: 10/7 Mark Bacon, 10/14 Elaine Orr, 10/21 WWK's Margaret S. Hamilton, 10/28 Kait Carson, and E. B. Davis 10/31 to fill out our fifth Tuesday.


WWK’s Carla Damron was one of three finalist for her novel, The Stone Necklace. Go to Carladamron.com for more information. Congratulations, Carla! Look for Carla's blog this month to find out the winner.

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. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "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.

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 order.
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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

An Interview with Earl Javorsky by E. B. Davis


Down Solo
Things haven't been going well for Charlie Miner. His work as a private investigator involves him with an endless roster of shady characters. His ex-wife is borderline crazy. And he hasn't been getting to spend anywhere near enough time with his teenage daughter Mindy, the one person in his life who truly matters to him.

When he wakes up on a slab in the morgue with a hole in his head, though, things get even worse.

Just before the shooting, Charlie was investigating a case involving fraud, gold, religious zealots, and a gorgeous woman who seemed to be at the center of everything. Even with a fatal bullet wound, Charlie can connect the dots from the case to his attack. And when his daughter is abducted by someone involved, the stakes get exponentially higher. Charlie needs to find Mindy before the criminals do the same thing to her that they did to him.
 
After that, maybe he'll try to figure out how he's walking around dead.
                                                                                                                                                                http://earljavorsky.com/books/
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Down To No Good


An edgy and intense thriller with a touch of the paranormal.

Private investigator Charlie Miner, freshly revived from his own murder, gets a call from Homicide Detective Dave Putnam. Self-styled “psychic to the stars” Tamara Gale has given crucial information about three murders, and the brass thinks it makes the Department look bad. Dave wants Charlie to help figure out the angle, since he has first-hand experience with the inexplicable. Trouble is, Charlie, just weeks after his full-death experience, once again has severe cognitive problems and may get them both killed.



_____________________________________________________________________________

If you like feel-good reads, Earl Javorsky’s novels are not your cuppa. Violence, drugs, sex, freaky paranormal—yes, yes, yes and yes. Earl Javorsky writes well, very well—like reading an action-adventure movie with a loud soundtrack—more voices than speakers. Those voices coax the reader into the multidimensional world of main character and pragmatist Charlie Miner, a participant observer. Charlie’s like a twenty-first century Bob Newhart, logical, likeable, well intended, if only Bob were a divorced, dead, PI, drug addict living in LA. 

After reading Down Solo, I intended to read something else. I almost succeeded, but then my morbid fascination poked the Kindle screen on Down To No Good, which will be released on Halloween (like duh). But please, start with the first book, Down Solo. Reading some scenes felt between terror and death. Charlie is down the White Rabbit hole. You want to wrap him up and yank him from the scene. He eventually helps himself (later rather than sooner) because of his daughter. We’re so glad she exists because she is his lifeline and also one source of much needed dry humor.

When Charlie wakes up in the morgue dead with a gunshot wound in his head, he steals another morgue roomie’s clothes. Too bad the guy was a skinhead. He covers the hole in his head with a baseball cap turned sideways. His daughter thinks he looks weird, remarking that, “You look like a retarded Eminem fan.”   

Earl’s books are intense, but very worthwhile reads. Please welcome Earl Javorsky to WWK.
                                                                                                                                                          E. B. Davis
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Q:  How did Charlie become a drug addict?

A: The same way a lot of people develop a dependency these days: he had a bike accident and hurt his back. When the pain pills stopped working (and got too expensive), he found something that did work: heroin. The old path to addiction (alcohol, “recreational” drugs, opiates) has been replaced by a shortcut and broadened the demographic dramatically.

I need a plan. I’m jonesing pretty bad, so, bail out of the morgue,
score some dope to tide me over, and then on to the next order of
business: find out who killed me. The easiest way to do that, I figure, is
to visit everyone I know and see who looks surprised.
Earl Javorsky, Down Solo, Kindle Loc. 78

Q:  Logical and funny. But Charlie is the one who gets surprised first. Who is his Rasta cabbie, Daniel, and what gets Charlie’s attention? Why does Daniel keep popping up?

A: Daniel is Charlie’s mentor—his guide to his unusual circumstance. We come to find out (minor spoiler alert) that Daniel was Charlie’s facilitator at an unsuccessful ibogaine treatment ceremony in a Mexican clinic.

Q:  Charlie finds that he has the ability, with limitations, to scout outside of his body. How does this assist and detract from solving cases?

A:  Charlie calls it “roaming” and uses it to surreptitiously eavesdrop on characters who would not otherwise divulge information. The downside is that it leaves his body vulnerable while he’s gone.

Q:  Charlie “blanks out” at times. He isn’t aware he loses time. It’s like he’s in a trance to those around him. Drugs or death? What’s going on with him?

A: In Down to No Good, Charlie has been damaged by trauma at least twice: once by taking a bullet to the brain and once by—well, he doesn’t figure that out until the middle of the book.

Q: Fifteen-year-old daughter Mindy smokes weed. Should Charlie be concerned or in the scheme of his life, is this such a small infraction as to not matter?

A:  It’s a conundrum for parents in this age of wonders. As someone who’s parented teen stoners, I can tell you it’s tricky terrain. I could go on, and on . . .

Q:  I like Detective Dave Putnam, but I don’t know why. Do you?

A:  Because he’s a great guy. And  a real guy. The real Dave Putnam is a friend of mine, and in fact was a cop for over thirty years—Narcotics, SWAT, homicide, all the cool stuff. And, he’s a terrific writer—look him up on Amazon.

Q:  Charlie, induced by a radio-announcer-like instructor, learns how to repair the damage that killed him. Charlie seems to be able to exist without healing. Why is it the healing necessary?

A:  Well, the key there is in your phrase “able to exist.” Is that enough? He’s damaged, his memory is impaired, and he has to will his autonomic system to function.

Q:  In one scene, when bad people die, Charlie sees a shadow form take them away. Do you believe in heaven and hell?

A:  Not in the traditional sense, by any means. There’s enough of that in this existence. That said, “this existence” is quite likely not what it seems to be.

Q:  How did you get a publishing contract with The Story Plant and the endorsements by some well-known authors?

A:   Ha! I hounded Lou Aronica, The Story Plant’s publisher, after I heard an interview with him on NPR. He was talking about the  sad state of the publishing industry and how “good writers were falling through the cracks.” The first time I pitched him, he rejected me, so I emailed back  “Well, I guess I’m just another good writer falling through the cracks.” I mentioned that I could promise a clean manuscript because I worked as a copy editor and proofreader, and he started giving me other novelists’ work to clean up. Eventually, he asked for my first two books. He read them and wrote back that I had the potential for a good writing career.

About the good blurbs—it seems like the first good one opened the door for the next and I kept accumulating credibility.

Q: What’s next for Charlie Minor?

A: He might have to go to Alaska. I’ll ask him.




Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Visit to Salem, Massachusetts



by Paula Gail Benson

This summer, following a business trip to Boston, I took a bus tour to visit Salem, Massachusetts. I went for historical and literary reasons, but I have to admit, I had my doubts.

A few years ago, I remember reading a short story by Toni Kelner about a young woman with a shop in Salem that catered to the “witch trade.” From that story and other accounts I had heard of modern Salem, I expected to find an entertainment venue for Halloween enthusiasts.

Certainly, that element was there. During my lunch in a downtown mall, I sat across from a Witch Pix, a costume and photography studio (https://www.witchpixofsalem.com/) that allowed customers to dress up and create their own magical fantasies. I watched as three young women were robed and posed before a screen that provided various backdrops. They seemed to have a lovely time.
Castle Rock
View across bay
I was fortunate that my tour began from Boston and our driver had steeped himself in details about the area. He drove us up the coast, driving through Marblehead and stopping at Castle Rock, where we could gaze at the rocky shore line. While he told us stories of movies filmed in the area (like Hocus Pocus and Grown Ups 2), he also spoke about the history and people who had lived there. He had done some research into documents recently discovered from the time period of the witch trials and gave us that perspective. Also, he provided us with background about author Nathaniel Hawthorne, who had lived and worked in Salem.

Salem Custom House
One of our first stops was at the Custom House overlooking the bay. Hawthorne served as a clerk there. Looking out over the water reminded me of how dependent the population must have been on shipping and how isolated it must have become during the winter. The Salem Regional Visitor Center emphasized the maritime history with displays and dioramas.

A short walk from the Visitor Center, I found the Salem Witch Trials Memorial. It is a square of land surrounded by a granite wall. At the entrance. A sign lists the convicted persons’ names and protests. It also contains the Elie Wiesel quotation, “Only if we remember will we be worthy of redemption.” The area is in the center of town, but very solemn and bordered by a cemetery. Along the inside of the granite wall, there is a bench ledge for each condemned person with the person’s name and date of execution or death engraved. Some of the benches had flowers or coins placed on them. In this quiet sanctuary, I found the true spirit of what had occurred during the trials and been learned from them.
 
Entrance to Salem Witch Trials Memorial

Cemetery
Benches in Memorial
Until that bus trip, I did not know the connection that Nathaniel Hawthorne had to the witch trials. His great-great grandfather, John Hathorne, was the only judge who never repented of his involvement with the trials. Nathaniel added the “w” to his last name to distinguish himself from his ancestor.

At the end of the day, we viewed the House of Seven Gables, the inspiration for Hawthorne’s book of the same title. Susanna Ingersoll, Hawthorne’s second cousin, inherited the house and encouraged his writing during the time he worked at the Custom House. Hawthorne’s novel was patterned somewhat upon his family history and his experiences in visiting the house. Later, when the house was purchased by others and ultimately became a settlement house for immigrant families, it was maintained by allowing visitors to tour the place they had read about in the novel.
House of Seven Gables
 So, to some extent, I found what I expected in Salem, a city dependent upon the tourist trade. What made it interesting was that history also had been preserved and recognized.

As Halloween approaches, I hope to watch the films Hocus Pocus and The Crucible. But, I’ll see them with new eyes from having visited a place where the historical events occurred.

Have you had a visit that made a place unforgettable for you?

Monday, October 16, 2017

Following a Character into a Book

by Linda Rodriguez

Lately, I’ve been intensely writing a new book. That’s a fairly common thing around here. Several times a year I follow a character into a short story or book. After the first draft is finished, I still refer to the much more I know about that character from writing that first draft as I revise and edit and edit, still following those characters as I chip away whatever doesn’t matter to them or what doesn’t fit. In a way, you could say that I spend most of my professional time chasing after characters, and you’d be correct.

Some people have the idea that plot is the be-all and end-all of the mystery writer, but I see it as story. I can write a book based on a clever plot with all kinds of surprises and twists, but if the reader doesn’t care about the characters or if the actions taking place don’t ring true for the characters, it’s no good. And yes, I know there are books like this that are published and sometimes very successful, but I still think it’s really story we need in the mystery, a story where the actions rise organically out of the characters and their motivations, where we care about the characters and what they’re trying to do because we know why it’s so important to them to succeed in their attempts.

When I’m looking for story, I start with character. As I start to know that character better, she or he leads me directly into story. A nice complex, twisty narrative with surprises and suspense comes from following all the major characters as they lead me on their path toward their goals in the story and come into conflict with each other or help each other or, sometimes, both.

When I run into problems with story as I’m writing a book, I go back to the characters involved with the aspect of the story that’s giving me a hard time. I sit down and have them write their situation, feelings, and problems with the story’s direction in first person as if they were writing diary entries or letters to me to tell me why they won’t do what I think they should do. Always I find that there’s something I’ve overlooked with that (those) character(s). I’ve been trying to steer the plot in a direction that’s false to the character(s), and I have to learn more about each character in order to find out the direction the story needs to go.

I’ve always been glad I take the time to do this, even as I whine about taking that time in the middle of a book with a deadline facing me. Often it leads to big changes—once I even had to change the villain into a possible love interest—but it always makes for a stronger, more vital story. And that’s what I’m after.

Right now, I’m chasing another set of characters into a book that I’ve tentatively set up to go one way, but I know that, as I get deeper into this story following these characters, I may find we’ve gone a different way into a whole different and much richer story. It’s the ultimate adventure, following a character into a book.



Linda Rodriguez's Plotting the Character-Driven Novel, based on her popular workshop, and The World Is One Place: Native American Poets Visit the Middle East, an anthology she co-edited, are her newest books. Every Family Doubt, her fourth mystery novel featuring Cherokee campus police chief, Skeet Bannion, will appear January 17, 2018. Her three earlier Skeet novels—Every Hidden Fear, Every Broken Trust, and Every Last Secret—and her books of poetry—Skin Hunger and Heart's Migration—have received critical recognition and awards, such as St. Martin's Press/Malice Domestic Best First Novel, International Latino Book Award, Latina Book Club Best Book of 2014, Midwest Voices & Visions, Elvira Cordero Cisneros Award, Thorpe Menn Award, and Ragdale and Macondo fellowships. Her short story, “The Good Neighbor,” published in the anthology, Kansas City Noir, has been optioned for film.

Rodriguez is past chair of the AWP Indigenous Writer’s Caucus, past president of Border Crimes chapter of Sisters in Crime, founding board member of Latino Writers Collective and The Writers Place, and a member of International Thriller Writers, Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers and Storytellers, and Kansas City Cherokee Community. Visit her at http://lindarodriguezwrites.blogspot.com

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Buckle Up: National Teen Driver Safety Week

By Julie Tollefson

Just after midnight on February 4, a Saturday, my husband’s phone rang. At first, he ignored it because he didn’t recognize the number. But then the caller tried again and again. On the third time, he picked up, and we stepped into that nightmare that every parent fears: Your teenager has been in a car accident. He’s being transported to Kansas University Hospital in Kansas City.

The details of that night are fuzzy, but moments stand out with stark clarity. During the 40-minute drive to the hospital, my husband called dispatch back to get more details. Jake was alert, they said. He’d fallen asleep and wrecked his car. Alcohol and drugs were not a factor. I called the hospital. Would they bring him to the ER? Is that where we should go? The ambulance hadn’t arrived yet, but the hospital would call me back as soon as it did. Somewhere between home and Kansas City, John told me Jake had hit a tree. Until that point, I guess I thought he’d driven off the road into a field or something. Maybe rolled the car. But those words, “hit a tree,” gut punched me.

At the ER, they wouldn’t let us see him immediately. He was undergoing tests—MRIs and X-rays and who knows what. The woman at the reception desk called back to let medical staff know that “the trauma patient’s parents are here.” “Trauma patient”—another punch to the gut. She hastened to assure me that the words meant nothing, just a name for the unit tending to him. But I work with words. Words have meaning. “Trauma” is not a word you want to hear used to describe your loved one.

When they did let us see him, he was in a neck brace (as a precaution—further tests revealed no spinal damage), his arms and legs bleeding from numerous cuts and abrasions, only one deep enough to require stitches. The accident had shattered the ulna in his left arm. Within about a two-inch span near his elbow, it had broken into nearly a dozen pieces. 

He was damned lucky.

Another moment that stands out from that night still brings tears to my eyes. One of the first things Jake said to us about the accident was, “Thank god it was only a tree.” That he’d hit a tree multiplied the horror for me, but for my child, who lay broken and in pain, it was something to be grateful for. He hadn’t hit another car. No one else had been hurt in the wreck.

When I think about that night now, I relive the fear and horror, now tempered with profound gratitude:

— For the seatbelt and airbags that saved my boy’s life

— For the engineers who designed a car to absorb and distribute the shock of violent crash

— For the Good Samaritans who watched over and comforted my child when I couldn’t (I didn’t get their names, but I am deeply indebted to the individuals who stopped to help Jake in the aftermath of the crash, one of whom sacrificed his own sweatshirt to wrap Jake’s feet, bare because he lost his shoes in the crash)

— For the doctors and nurses at KU Hospital who put him back together, especially Dr. Brubacher, an elbow specialist who just happened to be on call

— For the physical therapist who helped him regain full range of motion in his elbow

— For the miracle of a human body that can regrow and repair crushed bone. For months after the accident, the possibility of a bone graft to fix the shattered ulna was ever present. Then at five months, the x-rays showed the bones starting to repair themselves. At seven months, the surgeon declared his arm healed.

To say that he almost died would be overly dramatic, but he could have. Within a couple months of his accident, I read of two others in our area who died when they lost control of their cars and hit trees.

If there was one thing we consistently did right as parents it was to insist that the boyo always wear a seatbelt. When he was old enough to buckle himself in, we had a ritual. Before we started the car, one of us would ask, “Are you buckled and pulled tight?” Every time. As he grew older, he’d cut us off before we asked with a sarcastic “Yes, I am buckled, and I am pulled tight.” By the time he took the wheel himself, a buckled seatbelt was so routine he didn’t even think about it. He just did it.

This week, October 15–21, is National Teen Driver Safety Week. My message for this and every week is buckle up. Hug your kids. Tell ’em you love ’em. Insist that they wear seatbelts.

Every time.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Thinking Through Self-Publishing by Elaine L. Orr


In honor of Sisters in Crime Self Publishing Day, we asked successful self-published author Elaine Orr to guest for us today. Please welcome her back to WWK and read my interview with her here
                                                                                                                                                                 E. B. Davis

Like many authors, I took writing courses and wrote for decades – plays, stories, bad novels. Eventually I worked in tandem on the first two books of the Jolie Gentil cozy mystery series.

Sometimes age has advantages. At fifty-nine, I figured by the time I found an agent, s/he found a publisher, and the book was issued – I could be dead. Much more fun to be alive when a book came out.

I got to the publishing point as the price of Kindles went below $300, which meant ebooks were affordable. Amazon changed my financial future. But it took a lot of work on my part.

Since I still had a busy day job, it took a couple of months to figure out ebook formatting and how to load books to the various retailers. Had Mark Coker not written the Smashwords Guide, it would have taken a lot longer. Sometimes other authors comment that they don’t want to spend time formatting. I get that. I spend less than two hours per book and like controlling the process.

Take time to consider whether you want to self-publish or work with an agent to find a publisher. Talk to authors who have done it both ways, read blogs. Self-publishing is a lot of work, and if you go the traditional publisher route (I’ve done both) you want to be sure yours works as hard as you do to reach readers.

I’m certainly not wise, but I’ve learned a few things.

  • Join or create a critique group that meets often. Mine (the Write Stuff in Decatur, Illinois) is tough but friendly. You can’t slack off when you are committed to a chapter per week.

  • Read books and articles about writing. Ideas may come readily, but structure is important in genre fiction. No need to obey every rule, but if you are going to deviate from reader expectations, do it consciously.

  • You only get one chance to make a first impression. If you can’t afford at least a proofreader and cover designer, hold a rummage sale.

  • Think of income as a bunch of baskets, sometimes small. I keep a couple of books in Amazon’s KDP Select, but most are with all retailers (including in large print and audio). I’ve heard authors say things like, “Kobo is not worth my time.” Really? You want to sell a bunch of books in the UK and Canada, use Kobo. Sometime in the next year or two, I expect the combined income of the other retailers to equal my Amazon income.

  • If you do put books on many platforms, use an aggregator (such as Smashwords, Draft2Digital). They load to all sites except Amazon and Google Play. You make a little less per book, but it saves time and frustration. You also get your ebooks placed with Overdrive, which sells to libraries.

  • Set yourself up as a publisher – at least in terms of purchasing ISBNs from Bowker. (You’ll need another rummage sale.)

  • If you use on-demand printers, use your own ISBN. You can (as a publisher) apply for a Library of Congress number for your paperback. Libraries beyond your local one may not order your book without one. I’m preparing second editions of my early books solely to include LOC numbers.

  • Beyond thinking about your audience, don’t plan marketing until your book is done and revised. At that point, pay for some marketing if you can, and pick two or three avenues to work on regularly. I strongly advise a blog – time-consuming, but you can publicize blog posts. You will put yourself in front of readers without constantly saying “buy my book.” (I could write ten pages on marketing. Don’t get me started.)

Finally, I write for me, I publish to make money. Don’t expect to make a lot quickly, and don’t give up. You’ll meet a lot of fabulous authors along the way.

Elaine L. Orr writes three mystery series, other genres, and plays. She belonged to writers’ groups for decades before she began publishing, and is still sustained by them, especially Sisters in Crime. She also lectures on writing and publishing and has online classes on the Teachable platform. One (Thinking Through Self-Publishing) is free, via a link on her web page.