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

October Interviews

10/07 M.E. Browning, Shadow Ridge

10/14 Alexia Gordon

10/21 Adam Meyer

10/28 Barbara Ross, Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman Next Door

October Guest Bloggers

10/03 Kathleen Kalb

10/17 S. Lee Manning

10/31 Sharon Dean

WWK Weekend Bloggers

10/10 Jennifer J. Chow

10/24 Kait Carson


For The Love Of Lobster Tales by Shari Randall is now available to download free for a limited time. Go to Black Cat Mysteries at: https://bcmystery.com/ to get your free copy! Thanks for the freebie, Shari.

Keenan Powell recently signed with agent Amy Collins of Talcott Notch. Congratulations, Keenan!

KM Rockwood's "Secrets To The Grave" will appear in the new SinC Chesapeake Chapter's new anthology Invitation To Murder, which will be released by Wildside Press on 10/6.

Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!

Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!

Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.

KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.

Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Wake up and smell the coffee:

Today's Salad Bowl Saturday guest blogger is author Terry Shames who talks about the often-neglect sense in writing.


“The coffee bubbled, filling the kitchen with its rich, earthy scent.”
The One I left Behind, Jennifer McMahon

And the food:

“The fried corn fragrance of pupusas wafted toward them, mingling with the smoky aroma of a roasting chicken.” Blood of Paradise, David Corbett

“The Halloran house always smelled of strong foods—onions, cabbage, hamburger--…The Most Dangerous Thing, Laura Lippman

And the bookstore:

 “…the familiar and distinctive aroma of once-loved books…the musty smell of paper and dust like incense, a welcoming cloud of calm and serenity.” The Bookseller, Mark Pryor

And death:

“In the rapidly warming air, the scent of death had blossomed. It was worse than spoiled milk or rotting meat or piles of dead fish lying out in the sun…though some inventive combination of the three may have come close to matching the putrid smell.” The Cutting Season, Attica Locke

Scientists don’t know what part of the molecule actually lights up the sense of smell. But like sight, sound and touch, smells can evoke a world of memory and meaning. It is the sense that most quickly hurls us into a different time and space. A whiff of the floral shaving cream your father used can conjure  a memory of watching him shave before he went off to work—and never returned. The sharp smell of metal in the hot sun can throw you back to when a hot metal slide burned the backs of your legs as a child. The pungent smell of pine can take you back to the first time you backpacked in the mountains—and got lost and had to spend the night out, terrified that you couldn’t find your way back to camp.

As evocative as our sense of smell can be, it’s essential in crime writing. A detective stepping into a room where a fresh body lies smells something completely different from one investigating a body that has been discovered only after several weeks of getting ripe. The smell of sweat on a fearful victim, perfume on a sexy woman in a noir novel, smoke in a burned out murder scene—can evoke as much as sense of “being there” as descriptions of sights and sounds.

It’s hard to find fresh ways of describing something so fundamental as smell. Countless writers of crime fiction have described the smell of blood as “coppery.” That seems so accurate that it’s hard to come up with a new adjective, but to use copper borders on cliché.

However, it isn’t necessary to actually describe a smell. In the first three passages quoted above, the writers simply state the fact of the smell, inviting the reader to fill in from personal experience.

But a smell gives such immediacy to a scene that it seems worthwhile to come up with new images, as in the second two passages.

When editing your book, be sure you sprinkle that often overlooked, vital sense in your scenes as a way of bringing the reader into the world you’ve created.


Terry Shames’ debut novel is due July 9, 2013 from Seventh Street Books.  Set in her native Texas, A Killing at Cotton Hill features ex-chief of police Samuel Craddock, reputed to be the best lawman the town of Jarrett Creek ever had. Terry lives in Berkeley, CA with her husband and two rowdy terriers. Read more at www.Terryshames.com. Drop in on her blog with The LadyKillers on alternate Wednesdays.


Jim Jackson said...

Thanks for the blog today, Terry.

Editing is the time where I fill in the missing sensory information. I keep a scene-by-scene checklist that includes (among other things) all five senses. Sight is the easiest, but I try to make sure most scenes also include hearing, touching, smelling and when applicable, tasting. The more I write, the more adding sensory detail comes naturally, but I still rely on editing to fill in the blanks.

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

I'm guilty. I'll mention that my MC is drinking coffee and fail to talk about aroma or taste. I have to remember to include more sensory detail. Thanks for the reminder, Terry, and good luck on your book.

Gloria Alden said...

I include smells, but probably not near enough. Thanks for the reminder about how important this is.

I'll be looking for your book in July.

Polly Iyer said...

I had a real awakening when I wrote InSight because my heroine is blind and my hero is deaf. Boy, did I use senses for both of them, especially her. That book was a great teacher and made me think about all the senses. Great post, Terry. I don't think writers put enough emphasis on the senses.

Warren Bull said...

Excellent post. Thanks for the reminder.

Terry Shames said...

Jim, that's a great idea! Gloria, I'm guilty, too--and from now on I'm going to do with Jim suggested.

When I do run across a good description of a sense in a book I'm reading, it throws me right into the place.

Leslie Budewitz said...

Terry, thanks for the examples and suggestions, particularly the observation that simply mentioning the smell can be enough -- the reader's olfactory memory will do the rest!