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


February Interviews













2/5 Heather Weidner, Glitter, Glam, and Contraband
2/12 Rhys Bowen, Above The Bay of Angels
2/19 Elizabeth Penney, Hems & Homicide
2/26 Annette Dashofy, Under The Radar


Saturday Guest Bloggers:
2/1 Valerie Burns
2/8 Jeannette de Beauvoir
2/15 Kathryn Lane

WWK Bloggers: 2/22 Kait Carson, 1/28 & 1/29 Special Interviews with Agatha Nominees by Paula Gail Benson

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WWK is proud of our four Agatha nominees. Kaye George for Best Short Story--not her first time to be nominated, Connie Berry and Grace Topping for Best First Mystery Novel (wish they weren't having to compete against each other), and Annette Dashofy for Best Contemporary Novel--her fifth nomination!


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Look for Kaye George and Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Kaye's story is "Life and Death on the Road" and Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."


Kaye George's first novel in the Vintage Sweets mystery series, Revenge is Sweet, will be released on March 10th. Look for the interview here on March 11.


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


Don't miss Shari Randall's "The Queen of Christmas" available on at Amazon. Shari's holiday story for WWK was too long so she published it for our enjoyment. It's available for 99 cents or on Kindle Unlimited for free!


KM Rockwood's "The Society" and "To Die A Free Man; the Story of Joseph Bowers" are included in the BOULD Awards Anthology, which was released on November 19. KM won second place with a cash prize for "The Society." Congratulations, KM! Kaye George's "Meeting on the Funicular" is also in this anthology, which can be bought for 99 cents on Kindle until November 30.


Paula Gail Benson's story "Wisest, Swiftest, Kindest" appears in Love in the Lowcountry an anthology by the Lowcountry Romance Writers available 11/5 in e-book and print format on Amazon. The anthology includes fourteen stories all based in Charleston, South Carolina.


Kaye George's "Grist for the Mill" was published in A Murder of Crows anthology, edited by Sandra Murphy on October 9th.



Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!

Susan Van Kirk's A Death At Tippett Pond was released on June 15th. Read E. B. Davis's interview with Susan.

Warren Bull's Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories was released. It is available at: GoRead: https://www.goread.com/book/abraham-lincoln-seldom-told-stories or at Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ydaklx8p

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Friday, July 31, 2015

WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW: A VARIATION



                                        Write What You Know, a Variation on the Theme

For a long time I have wondered why — Write What You Know — is the most common advice given to people who are new to the practice of writing.  It’s not bad advice. I don’t disagree with it, but I’ve never thought it was particularly helpful. 

Unless your career is in law, journalism or law enforcement, your profession may not tie into mystery or suspense easily.   That doesn’t disqualify anyone from being a writer, but if your field is computer programming, carpentry or whatever, it’s not clear what to do next.  

After mulling it over for some time I have decided that a variation on the theme would be helpful.  Although it is usually better to frame advice in a positive way, I think rephrasing the statement into the negative is a more helpful way to advise aspiring writers. 

Don’t write what you don’t know.  Is there anyone who disagrees with that statement?  After that there is a corollary piece of advice. If you want to write about something you don’t know well, learn about that something before you start writing about it. 

My novels take place in Illinois and Kansas during the 1840s and 1850s.  I started by knowing almost nothing about the time period.  There wasn’t anyone around who knew about it by living through it.  There were, however histories and, much more helpful, there were documents written by people who lived at that time.  Letters, newspapers and diaries were great sources about how people thought and felt. I can not over-emphasize the importance of seeking primary sources.  Every historian or commentator starts from a point-of-view.   Even attempts to present information in a non-biased way, cannot be completely successful. 

I have written two novels about Abraham Lincoln.   I relied heavily on documents written by Lincoln.  Historians debate any number of things about the elusive “real man” behind the icon.  I have my own ideas about the issues. For example, in one of the Lincoln-Douglas debates Lincoln made a statement suggesting that women would be able to vote in the future.  Some historians apparently feel the statement was a joke he made.  Others seem to think he was making a statement about the equality of men and women.  Personally, I think it was both.  By the time of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, in my opinion Lincoln no longer told stories only for entertainment as he had earlier in his life.  I believe he used humor in a masterful way manner to bring up issues and concerns that would have been startling or controversial if addressed directly. 

So, that’s my version of the advice.  

5 comments:

KM Rockwood said...

Research can certainly help, and primary sources are invaluable. We wouldn't have any historic novels or science fiction if authors stuck strictly to writing what they know.

The internet makes a lot of research so much easier, especially fact-checking.

Having access to people who are very familiar with times and situations is very helpful, too. One of my sisters, who spent several years working in the French archives studying women's education in France in the 1800's, was frequently consulted by one particular author who wrote historic fiction of that era. And in one book I needed to have a buried body discovered. The culprit had buried it at a bridge construction site, where he thought it would soon be covered by tons of concrete and steel. I turned to my daughter, who was working at a bridge construction site. She told me all about erosion control and silt snakes, plus the inspectors who could show up and stop work if the killer didn't get the silt snakes replaced exactly right.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

A lot of my writing is faction, that is, a combination of what I know, what I research and my imagination. I think you can never go wrong if you write with your heart and your head.

Jim Jackson said...

We're talked before about how historical fiction needs to be accurate or readers can hurl books across the room in disgust.

There are places where pure imagine can run without constraints: fantasy comes as do the fictional towns and cities some authors choose for setting.

~ Jim

Gloria Alden said...

I agree with you, Warren. You've obviously done a good job of research to make your books ring true. I don't write historical fiction, although there is one middle-grade book I started and may finish that takes place in the early years of Hiram, Ohio history. I researched the history to teach my third grade classes about the early settlers and what life was like then. I may get back to that book someday in my spare time.

Daveler said...

I always thought the "write what you know" ideology was limiting, and I think that saying if you don't know something, you can write about it, but research it, is pretty good advice.

When it comes to write what you know I've always said write what you're interested in. Sometimes beginners will try to write something they know nothing about because they don't really care about it, but they like the way it makes them look. I've tried to write contemporary plays constantly, but they're never finished because I don't care about this reality. I think it's far more important to pick subjects that you care about than ones you are already informed on--especially because it'll help encourage you to do research.