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 V.M. Burns, Steal Away

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


Two new books for WWK members: Jennifer J. Chow's Mimi Lee Reads Between the Lines (look for the interview on WWK on 11/11) and Judy Penz Sheluk's Where There's A Will. Both books will be released on November 10.

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!

Judy Penz Sheluk, publisher of Superior Shores Press, has just announced a Call For Submissions to its third multi-author anthology. Details can be found here: http://www.judypenzsheluk.com/superior-shores-press/moonlight/


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Dale Deserves a Good Death

One of the nice things about arranging Salad Bowl Saturday guest blogs is I get to meet and learn about new (to me) authors. Larry Thacker is just such a person and in today's guest blog he talks about his creative process for his current WIP.

~ Jim

Dale is probably dead. In my novel-in-progress (insert fresh level of hell), Dale has been missing for only a few weeks. In reality, however, he’s been missing and presumed dead for five years. It’s not that Dale doesn’t deserve more attention. He does, and I think of him often. It’s just that it took four and a half years and three major edits to figure out why he’s dead (or probably dead) and how it happened (if it happened). Sound familiar?

The idea and motivation for Black Mountain Light surprised me. I am often a poet first, non-fiction essayist second, and short story writer third. An aspiring novelist is somewhere in betwixt all the competing genre warfare that is my mental distraction of writing. It is this chaotic juggling of projects that both blesses and curses the mind.

Part NaNoWriMo self-dare, part enviro-political rant, part faintly-disguised memoir, the first rush of writing was blissful and carefree and novel. As the story unfolded over endless cafĂ© marathons (of course), it was clear that someone was going to die. When it ended up being Dale, the main character’s newly met cousin, I was glad to have figured out who it was going to be. It was easy at first to commit those lines and possibly strike a character from existence in the midst of a long, involved story, but I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. More importantly, I didn’t realize what I was getting my characters into.

Having him go missing granted me time for consideration, didn’t it? As you might expect, that was a mistake, hoping that the answers for “how and why” would eventually come to me in my delay. A few did, but in disappointing ways. It was probably this frustration that forced me to push and pull the story from the back burner so often over the last few years.

I’m sorry, Dale, but other projects got in the way. Or, I let them get in the way. Yes, I fully understand that if you’re going to “fully commit” to your side of the deal that you deserve a decent, believable cause for suddenly going missing. Something unique. As little clichĂ© as possible. Some perfect falling of tragic dominos. Something frustrating and conflict-ridden. Properly motivated. All the good stuff. A well-earned shedding of blood. Where I fled in avoidance of your situation was other writing. Things that felt easier. Less like an impossible literary Rubik’s Cube that your situation was becoming.

Luckily, it was in my retreat to other projects that led me to a satisfying plot hinge. The novel was originally birthed from a non-fiction piece I’d written, entitled “Looking for ghosts, finding mountaintop removal.” By the time I was finishing a draft of the novel, my mind was too far removed from my original inspiration. I finally revisited that piece with some edits. The emotion I’d felt six years ago, the energy driving me, was obviously different, rooted in real experiences and frustration of the time. This reexamination helped me better empathize with Dale’s life, which he deserves. The “how and why” became clear to me.

If I can suggest to fellow writers anything useful from this continuing experience, it would be to challenge yourself to juggle a few projects at a time. While wrestling a number of writing projects may feel chaotic, don’t be too quick to dismiss your bouncing around as a form of energetic, but ultimately lazy, avoidance. Epiphany may be waiting in that intimidating mix of writing genres vying for your attention. A line from a poem may scream a novel’s worth of back-story. A novel project might be better served as a handful of short stories. A piece of flash fiction might seed volumes of stories. In my case, a personal non-fiction piece morphed into a novel I simply must complete. Dale deserves better.
Larry Thacker is the author of Mountain Mysteries: The Mystic Traditions of Appalachia and the poetry collection, Voice Hunting. He serves as Associate Dean of Students at Lincoln Memorial University.

Like him on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mountain-Mysteries-The-Mystic-Traditions-of-Appalachia/232474970119461

Teaser for Black Mountain Light. Alder Henry is pulled between a fatherless post-modern Appalachian life and an obsession with the alluring folkloric mysteries of the mountain home he barely knows. Alder stumbles upon the depressed coal town of Zenith, Virginia, when tracking details of the  elusive "Black Mountain Lights" phenomenon along the border of Virginia and Kentucky. What he discovers is an odd community suffering a slow cultural death at the hands of unrestrained mountaintop removal mining practices. His unwitting journey leads him on a path of pains in self-discovery, of meaningful love, blind violence, and family reconnection.


Jim Jackson said...


I am a firm believer in having more than one project going at all times. When seemingly "stuck" on one, move to the next and, as you've experienced, often the first problem resolves itself because without the pressure of needing an immediate answer our minds often respond quite well to the challenge.

Good luck with killing Dale.

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

I agree with both of you. Writers have to have more than one project going at any given time. But, I also believe in not starting a project unless I know where I'm going with it. Dale wouldn't have gone missing unless I knew where he'd gone and why. If not, he wouldn't be on the page. That's what I don't understand about NaNoMo. How do writers sit down and write a novel without planning or have they already planned it and are waiting until November to write it? Or does it just happened to be November when all these writers conveniently finish outlining their novels? Why wait? Why write unless you have an outline? I just don't "get" it.

Jim Jackson said...

EB -- you are a plotter; some of us are pantsers and feel that if we are writing to a plot we might as well be ghost-writing because of the constraints required by plotting ahead.

I'm not saying one is better than the other, but when I try to plot ahead it is pure agony.

I do waste time in my first draft with blind alleys and scenes that will later need cutting and others that must be added. I would be more "efficient" if I could plot, but my novels are driven by the characters and the plot works itself out.

~ Jim

KM Rockwood said...

I've found that I can't have more than one book in my series going at a time, or I get confused about what is in which book. They take place in a timeline, and blur together in my mind if I'm dealing with more than one. I can and do, however, intersperse short stories and possible additional series.

As far as plotter or pantser, I'm a combination of the two. I think I know where my stories are going, but sometimes they don't go there. With the first mystery I wrote (mercifully unpublished), I was wrong about who the killer was. The characters take on a life of their own, and can stubbornly refuse to go where I want them to. Then I have to let them go and follow what they are doing. Sometimes it's more like reporting than creative writing.

Warren Bull said...

You know, I'm going to miss Dale.

Gloria Alden said...

Larry, I have more than one project going at a time, too. My current book in process, blogging, poetry and the occasional essay. I understand your dilemma with Dale because I've decided I like the murderer I'd planned for the book I'm working on too much to have him kill the victim. Now I hace to develop a new murderer add new clues to the book.

Your book and the anthology and mysteries dealing with the Appalachian Mountain area sounds like something I'd like to read since I'm fascinated by the tales, music and culture of the area.