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

July Interviews

7/1 Lena Gregory, Scone Cold Killer
7/8 Jessica Baker, Murder on the Flying Scotsman
7/15 TG Wolff, Driving Reign
7/22 Leslie Budewitz, The Solace of Bay Leaves
7/29 Cynthia Kuhn, The Study of Secrets

Saturday Guest Bloggers

7/11 Mark Dressler
7/18 James McCrone

WWK Bloggers:

7/4 Valerie Burns
7/25 Kait Carson


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!

Look Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."

Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, was released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here from April 29th.

Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Next Four Letter Word

Today we welcome Molly MacRae to Salad Bowl Saturday. I'll be seeing Molly as we both attend Magna cum Murder in Indianapolis next week. I had the good fortune to read her Last Wool and Testament. Despite the fact that it was a cozy (which I tend not to read) and had woo-woo elements (which I often dislike), I thoroughly enjoyed her first her Haunted Yarn Shop series. The second is now out. I think you'll find her sense of humor on display in this piece as well. ~ Jim
“Next” is such a small word, a shruggable preposition you might take for granted. It isn’t quite cozy, though, is it? It could be, if you’re thinking about a cat curled beside you on the sofa or if you’re looking forward to the next book in your favorite mystery series. But more realistically, “next” is a word freighted with expectations, emotions, and a whole baggage claim of possibilities. Consider the following examples of “next” as . . . 

Pressure – “Is your parachute secure? You jump next.”

Promise – “If you’ll dance with me again, next time I’ll try not to Two-step on your toes.”

Prophecy – click here to see a Mutts comic by Patrick McDonnell

Threat – “The next time you weed whack my hydrangeas . . .”

Organization – “Bring the eye of newt to a bubble. Next, stir in the toe of dog.”

Hope – “Please don’t pick me next, please don’t pick me, please.”

Hypothesis – “I’m as sane as the next woman.”

Negotiation – “I’ll gladly pay you [next] Tuesday for a hamburger today.” ~ J. Wellington Wimpy from an episode of Popeye

Placement – “You’ll find The Joy of Cooking next to The Pleasure of Poisoning.”

Finality – “Sorry, we can only release information about the severed hand to the next of kin.”

“Next” implies forward movement, but an actual “next” isn’t inevitable. That’s because “next” isn’t just beleaguered by all those emotions, expectations, and possibilities, it can also be frightening. Paralyzing, even. In fact, fear of the word “next” could be the root cause for most cases of writer’s block. Think about it. A blank page, the start of a new chapter or scene, the first word of the next sentence . . . each of those is a huge, scary void staring you in the face demanding to know what you’re going to do next. George Carlin offered this advice: “Always do whatever’s next.” Yeah, right. Easy for the funny guy to say, but a blank page can reduce grown men to jelly and convince strong women there’s safety in cleaning the refrigerator.

But no matter how horrifying it might be, “next” is a good word for mystery writers. “Next” is tied up as tightly as the hero in a melodrama with those other classic mystery words: who, what, where, when, and how. “Next” is the word, whether it’s actually on the page or up there skulking between our ears, that every story and every writer depends on. Writers need readers up until two in the morning flipping pages to find out what happens next.

“Next” has been on my mind lately. Dyeing Wishes, the second book in my Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery series came out in July. I turned in the manuscript for the third book, Spinning in Her Grave, soon after. I’m about to leap headlong into writing the fourth book and now that third book is back for revisions. And people keep asking, “How’s the writing going? What’s next?” It’s a kindly meant question, so I try not to do my imitation of “The Scream” when I answer. Not because I don’t know what’s next, but because I do know. A lot of work comes next – writing, revising, editing, promoting, keeping up with my day job, proofreading, getting up at five in the morning to fit it all in, crawling away from the computer once in a while to say hi to my family, not the laundry, thank goodness, because my son took over doing that, but generally anything else that’s part of what we call life is what comes next. With caffeine.

But do I really know what’s next? Um, I hope I know about the writing and rewriting, and sharing meals with my family, and about keeping up with the day job. But beyond those hopes? Nah. How could I know? The wonderful Gilda Radner said, “Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what happens next.” In other words, life is full of mysteries. Mysteries? Hey, cool. I like mysteries and I can live with that.

So, what’s next for me? The first word in the first sentence of the next book. I wonder what it’ll be. What’s next for you?


The Boston Globe says Molly MacRae writes “murder with a dose of drollery.” Molly is the author of the award-winning Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries from Penguin/NAL. Her short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine since 1990. After twenty years in northeast Tennessee, Molly now lives with her family in Champaign, Illinois. You can find Molly at her website www.mollymacrae.com, on Facebook and Pinterest. Her books can be found at independent bookstores, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, and your public library.


Gloria Alden said...

The only problem with these interviews, is that I keep adding to my huge TBR book pile, and now your first book will be another one, Molly. I just may move it up to the top.

I'm polishing my third book now and have been excited about starting the fourth since before I finished the third, but even though I dashed off the first scene some time ago, I know it needs much improvement so I've been procrastinating on actually writing that NEXT book. Good blog, Molly. I enjoyed it.

E. B. Davis said...

Ah, Molly, you've written a great blog. For an unpublished novelist, "next" poses revisions based on my critique group, revisions based on my editor, and then starting the query process on a supernatural, romantic mystery--which maybe a hard-sell since it isn't a cozy or a traditional mystery. I'm so glad that you write in the supernatural subgenre. It isn't the same as paranormal, which leans toward shape-sifters, vampires and zombies, but it does have the woo woo element I love. Congratulations on the series. I only hope for a "next."

Jim Jackson said...

In the Myers-Briggs analysis, I am a P (Perceiving) as opposed to J (Judging). With respect to "next" that means I feel more comfortable leaving myself open to possibilities than I do when I have made a decision. Fortunately, I have the ability to move forward once I make a decision.

By the end of the month I will have typed "The End" on the first draft of the current WIP. I will then have to decide what next project I embark on while I let this one percolate before working on its revisions.

I might revive the original Seamus McCree mystery and rewrite it, now that I am a more capable writer. Or I might revisit an idea for a standalone futuristic novel that's been asking for attention. Or something else might come up in the next week or so that grabs my attention.

Until it is the next, there are all those possibilities and there's no reason to decide before you have to...

~ Jim

Shari Randall said...

Hi Molly, thanks for stopping by-
I think my next book will be a Haunted Yarn Shop mystery. The series sounds terrific and we librarians have to stick together!

Warren Bull said...

I don't know what's next. I have an idea big enough for a novel but I don't know if it will turn into anything.
You wrote a very good blog. Thanks for sharing with us.

Molly MacRae said...

Thanks, all, for your comments. And thank you for having me on Writers Who Kill! I'm sorry I didn't stop in yesterday and comment on comments as they came in - I was at my day job all day (day three of an eight day work week with only one day off after a six day week) and was totally in that compartment. Doggone it!

Anyway - Gloria, I wish you luck on book four. E.B., good luck with the revisions and querying. You might be surprised when you go to sell the supernatural, romantic mystery. Jim, I'm with you on enjoying the possibilities before making a decision. Shari, librarians united! Warren, I hope your idea does turn into a book.

Again, thanks for having me. If you're ever in Champaign, IL, stop by the children's department of the public library. Seem like I'm always there!