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


Here are the upcoming WWK interviews for the month of July!

July 4th Christopher Huang, A Gentleman's Murder

July 11th V. M. Burns, The Plot Is Murder

July 18th Edith Maxwell (Maddie Day), Death Over Easy

July 25th Shari Randall, Against The Claw


Our July Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 7/7--Mary Feliz, 7/14--Annie Hogsett, 7/21--Margaret S. Hamilton, 7/28--Kait Carson.

Our special bloggers for the fifth Monday and Tuesday of July--Kaye George and Paula Gail Benson.


Please welcome two new members to WWK--Annette Dashofy, who will blog on alternative Sundays with Jim Jackson, and Nancy Eady, who will blog on every fourth Monday. Thanks for blogging with us Annette and Nancy!


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Annette Dashofy's Uneasy Prey was released in March. It is the sixth Zoe Chambers Mystery. The seventh, Cry Wolf, will be released on September 18th. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Annette on September 19th.

Carla Damron's quirky short story, "Subplot", was published in the Spring edition of The Offbeat Literary Journal. You can find it here: http://offbeat.msu.edu/volume-18-spring-2018/


Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), was published on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here. He's working on Seamus McCree #6 (False Bottom)


Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:


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.


Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in July 31, 2018.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Diane Vallere Interview by E. B. Davis


Interior decorator Madison Night is no stranger to the occasional odd inheritance. But when an octogenarian friend dies and leaves her a pajama factory, the bounty is bittersweet. Once a thriving business, Sweet Dreams closed decades ago after a tragic accident took the life of a young model. Or was that simply a cover up? Between her friend’s death and her own stagnant life, Madison is tempted to hide under a blanket of willful ignorance. But when family members and special interest groups lobby to expose the secrets of the factory, Madison gets caught in a dangerous nightmare and discovers that sometimes, the bed you make is not your own.

Doris Day is one of my favorite actresses. I watched a lot of her movies when I was younger and still like them. Few women of a certain age don’t like Doris. The happily-ever-after endings, the morality of the characters Doris portrayed, the good-looking male leads, and the clothing Doris wore—all of which made for great female entertainment.

Diane Vallere’s Mad for Mod series main character, Madison Night, looks like Doris (a perky blonde), dresses like Doris, and designs house interiors like those shown in Doris Day movies (late fifties/early sixties styles). In Madison’s quest for period furnishings, she’s drawn into the drama of estates and death. The Pajama Frame is Diane’s fifth Madison Night novel.

Often murder motives in mysteries are far fetched, but the motive for murder in this novel was grounded in the real world. Cute dogs, pastel fabrics, and tailored clothing aside, Diane takes on some real-world issues in this book and some of her character’s issues, too.

Welcome back to WWK, Diane.                                                                                       E. B. Davis    
Madison inherits a pajama factory from her elderly friend Alice Sweet. It’s been boarded up and neglected for sixty years. Why did she pass off her problem to Madison? Avoiding the building’s painful past, or is it more personal?
DV: I think Alice was a woman who came into her own after her husband died (when she was in her fifties) and instead of letting her new life be defined by something her husband had done (or not done), she chose to let her life be defined by her own identity.

Why did Madison name her little Shih Tzu, Rocky?
DV: Rocky is named after Rock Hudson. She added the “y” because it makes the name cutesy, but both Captain Tex Allen and Hudson James, the two men in her life, only call him Rock.
Does the Captain’s relationship with Rocky mirror his relationship to Madison?
DV: I think you can tell a lot about a person by how they interact with someone else’s pet, so having Tex interact with Rocky gets to show him in a different way than only showing him interacting with Madison.

Why doesn’t Madison have many close friends her own age?
DV: Madison left Pennsylvania for Texas, not for any reason other than the person she was getting away from was in PA and would never come to TX. She had friends there, but after started over with a whole new life, she discovered that it’s harder to make new friends in your late forties than your twenties.

At the cemetery while looking at Alice Sweet’s headstone, Madison has a moment of reckoning. What hit her so hard?
DV: Even though Alice was decades older than Madison, the two women were friends, and Madison sees Alice’s life as having been similar to hers. She realizes how alone she’s been in Texas, how here’s a woman who died and her family is treating the death like an inconvenience. Madison, who has been trying to open up to people feels a bit like she’s losing herself in the process of inviting people into her world. It’s a real struggle: stay isolated and protect herself, or be vulnerable to others and risk being hurt.

Donna Nast (former Officer Nasty) talks a lot. She claims Madison lives in the past. Does she speak the truth?
DV: Nasty is a very interesting (and fun) character for me because she represents what I think a lot of people might think if they encountered a real life Madison Night. Madison does dress in vintage, and her business does revolve around the midcentury style, and people often assume she’s ignorant of technology or modern business practices.

I like to think of Donna Nast as Alex Krycek from The X-Files. She has her own agenda, and you never really know whose side she’s on.
 
Nasty also said of Captain Tex Allen, “For him, the job comes first. Period.” True or is she just a “think-she-knows-it-all?”
DV: I’m going to leave this one unanswered so the reader can decide for themselves!

I was surprised that Donna Nast felt impacted by a man’s suicide she may have indirectly caused even though she didn’t know him. Does Donna have more emotional depth than readers perceive?
DV: I think every single person has emotional depth, whether we like them or don’t like them. Nasty is a great nemesis for Madison, but to me she’s more interesting because she does have layers.

Although Donna Nast isn’t pleasant, she was more forthcoming with information about a past case connected to Madison’s case than Captain Tex Allen. He can hide behind the shield, but withholding information is a kind of lying. Why would he do that to Madison?
DV: I can admit that understanding police procedure and behavior is the steepest learning curve I have when writing a cop, and I learned early on in this series (after consulting with a 25-year homicide detective) that there are things a cop would not discuss because it would jeopardize a case. Tex will share information to a point, but he wouldn’t want Madison to think he wants her to put herself in danger. Their relationship has changed a lot since the first book, when she proved to him that she can think through facts and evidence clearly, but they still have a police/civilian barrier.

“[Madison’s] My desire to live an independent life without the possibility of emotional connection or pain dissolved.” (Kindle Loc. 3457) What did Madison discover about Alice’s life that affected her so deeply as to change her path? 
DV: The death of her friend (regardless of her age) made Madison see that life is short and feeling alive—and experiencing the messiness that goes with the ups and downs of that—is better than going through the motions. In her friend’s life she saw opportunities lost and doesn’t want that to be her.

You have four mystery series, but this fall you released a science fiction novel. Has sci fi always lurked as an interest?
DV: I think of MURDER ON MOON TREK 1 as a mystery set in outer space more than a science fiction novel. I love Star Trek and UFO and wanted to have the freedom to completely create an alternate setting while still relying on clues, evidence, and sleuthing for my amateur to solve the crime. I expect Sylvia Stryker to have more adventures, but I don’t expect to delve farther into sci fi than dipping my toe, which is what I’ve done here.

What’s next for Madison?
DV: I’m currently working on book 6, which is expected out later this year. In her efforts to expand the boundaries of her life, she has been bidding on higher profile jobs, and in book 6 she’s competing in a design competition that pits her and her mid-mod aesthetic against more commercial designers throughout the state of Texas. Unfortunately, a computer hacker is wreaking havoc on the very technology Madison is forced to embrace…



   

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Ones Who Got Away With It

photo by bizoo_n
Agatha Christie once opined: "Every murderer is somebody's old friend." It's a reality that we mystery writers exploit every time we plot a whodunit. We insert our guilty party into scene after scene with other characters, people who once dated this person, who are related to this person, who have this person bake cakes for their special occasions. People who have no clue they're passing thisclose to a killer until the final reveal.

Every murderer – just like every victim – disrupts our social network, our web of connection. It is our sleuth's job to right this wrong and restore the order. But what about in real life? Do we too walk among killers?

Of course we do.

I recently saw a statistic proclaiming that during my lifetime, I will meet 37 murderers. It's a highly suspicious statistic because of all the unknown variables (like, for example, how many people an average American meets in a lifetime) but one data science analyst gave verifying it a good whack. He used some Fermi calculations, a logarithmic scale distribution, some solid facts (like the average number of murders in the US per capita per year, a third of which go unsolved), and a little speculative guesswork to put the number closer to 10.76 (you can read the specifics of his calculations here).

That means during my lifetime, I will meet approximately ten or eleven murderers. Which got me to thinking who they might be and how we might interact, these killers and I. So, with apologies to Wallace Stevens and his very fine "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird," I present the following:


 "Nine Ways of Looking at an Unapprehended Murderer"

The endocrinologist places cool fingers on either side of your neck and presses gently. "Any tenderness there?" he says.

The parking attendant stands beside your meter as it slowly ticks to zero. Her pen and ticket pad are already in hand. She has been standing at your car for five minutes.

The butcher wipes the blood off his hands and washes them well before he hands you the slab of chuck roast. Ground beef is on special today.

You run for the elevator. "Hold, please!" But the man in the expensive suit stares at you and lets the doors close.

The woman in blue jeans sits next to you at the bar. She orders the same thing you're drinking, smiles at you with all her teeth showing.

Your cousin borrows the truck. Again. At least he always brings it back clean.

The salesperson startles you. She'd been standing behind you the whole time, watching you read the placards in front of each microwave. She has said not a single word.

The bagger at the grocery store places your bread on the bottom and your potatoes on top. You unpack everything and instruct him in the correct way to bag groceries, putting the heavy items in first. You demonstrate slowly so that he will understand. The woman in line behind you, the one with only a gallon of milk in hand, stares hard.

You look in the mirror. Today is the day. You're going to confront them. You straighten your shoulders, take a deep breath. Your reflection does the same.

*     *     * 
Tina Whittle writes the Tai Randolph mysteries for Poisoned Pen Press. The sixth book in this Atlanta-based series—Necessary Ends—is scheduled for an April release. Tina is a proud member of Sisters in Crime and serves as both a chapter officer and national board member. Visit her website to follow her on social media, sign up for her newsletter, or read additional scenes and short stories: www.tinawhittle.com.




Monday, February 26, 2018

How I Outline My Novels by Debra Sennefelder



There are a few schools of thoughts on outlining. Some writers outline, some don’t and some do a combination of both processes, which means they loosely outline so they have an idea of where the story is going. Me? I outline. The outline for the The Uninvited Corpse was about 20 (single-spaced) pages long and the outline for book two came in at 23 pages. I cannot imagine writing either book without outlining.

Why do I outline? Outlining gives me a clear direction of where the story is going and lays out the plot which includes twists and turns and defeats and triumphs for my amateur detective, Hope Early.
How do I outline? I begin with Michael Hague's six stage plot structure. This method also serves as a template for writing the synopsis of the novel. Yes, even after selling your first book you need to be able to write a synopsis for your next book. Let’s look at an example, the first stage of the plot structure, of how I incorporate this structure into my outlining.


Act One: First 25% of the novel


0-10% - The Ordinary World

This part of the book is Hope’s ordinary world. It's Hope's life before the murder and where I hope that readers will connect with her and want to follow her along the journey. I usually just write a few sentences with very few details. Here's what I wrote for the book I'm currently working on (the second in the Food Blogger Mystery series):

Hope Early is the publisher behind the growing food blog, Hope at Home. Her current project for her blog is a series on stress-free meals so she’s developing recipes for slow cookers and pressure cookers. She’s also continuing to remodel her antique farmhouse and the big project now is building a new garage on her property. The book opens with Hope arriving for the first day...I'm not giving any more away. :)

Now I'll continue to go through the whole six stage plot structure and when it's complete I'll set it aside for a few days. When I return to the document I'll add a few spaces to each section and elaborate on what is happening at that particular point of the story. Each section now will have several sentences which are a bit more detailed and the basis for the next step of outlining the novel.

When I begin outlining I include the chapter number, the scene number, the day in the story, the time of day, and the location. I also include all the details of that scene, snippets of dialogue if they come to me as I'm typing, descriptions of characters or locations or objects, and links to online research sites. My outline is jam packed with a lot of stuff. Here's a snippet from the outline I'm currently using:

Day One – late afternoon

Hope arrives at home and is greeted by her sister, Claire Dixon. She didn’t expect Claire to be waiting for her or having to explain why she’s late getting home. Bigelow, her dog, comes racing to welcome her home. Claire is in a huff because...you'll have to read the book to find out why she's upset. :)

Writing the outline can take weeks and I honestly don't remember how long it took to write the outline for book 2. I completed it last spring. Some writers feel writing an outline sucks the joy out of writing the novel. They're not surprised by anything when they sit down to write the novel or they feel the outline structure is too rigid. Valid points. However, I don't feel that writing an outline hinders the novel writing process. The outline isn't carved in stone and can be adjusted accordingly as I write the story. During the draft writing process (I usually go through 4 drafts) I have changed things such as eliminating a scene - I did that in the first draft of book 2, the scene was flat and I was totally bored by it so I cut it and brainstormed a new scene to replace it - or adding a character or re-arranging scenes. Doing any of those things can be nerve-wracking for a writer but since I have a detailed outline that is guiding me, it's like a safety net, I can make those changes on the fly.

If a new writer asked me if he/she should outline I would say "yes" and share my reasons why. But does a writer need to outline? No. Every writer writes differently and no one should impose his/her practices on another writer. But I think writers should outline. :)
 

Sunday, February 25, 2018

A Writer Unplugged


By James M. Jackson

Antarctic Peninsula

Earlier this week we returned from our 23-day journey in and around Antarctica. During that time, I had no access to electronic news feeds. I missed the Super Bowl – although I did hear the score the next day. I missed five shootings in or around schools: Lincoln High School in Philadelphia (1/31), an “unintentional” shooting of two in Sal Castro Middle School in LA (2/1), Oxon Hill High School, Oxon Hill, MD (2/5), the parking lot of Pearl-Cohn High School, Nashville, TN (2/9), and mass murder at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, FL (2/14). I missed (I think) Congress passing a budget. I returned to find Dreamers are still caught in a nightmare and the Olympics in full swing.

Sheep with Magellanic Penguins on Falkland Islands
Each day, the ship I was on printed a multi-page news summary. It covered the world. Cricket, Tennis, Golf, and English Premier League Football each had more lines of coverage than the two or three allocated daily to US news, which was included under the subhead “The Americas” (lumping our bit of drama with that from the rest of North, Central, and South America).

Striated Caracara - Falkland Islands
While all those events (and much, much more) transpired, I spent oodles of hours on deck watching pelagic birds, cloud patterns, the work of wind on the water. During our numerous landings, we visited new places (Argentina, the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island, the Antarctic Peninsula and surrounding islands), saw thousands of birds and unique landscapes.

The only time I consciously spent in writerly activities was during one day at sea. The birds had mostly left us, and it rained or drizzled all day. I stayed in my cabin and wrote the drafts of two blogs related to the April 3 release of Empty Promises. I suppose I should also count time I spent talking with fellow passengers about my writing. That should probably be counted as sales activity.

young Black-browed Albatross - Falkland Islands
Life itself is grist for the writer’s mill, and this was an experience unlike any other I have had. The problem is, if you tried to pin me down about what I learned or how I might incorporate something into my writing, I’ll have to admit that I have no clue. Maybe an expression I heard will pop up in a character’s dialogue. Perhaps I’ll describe how one passenger walked using a stabilizing boot on one foot—the way she shifted her body to compensate for the additional weight and bulk, or how she had to navigate the stairways in rolling seas. Wait! Maybe I’ll have a passenger use a fake boot to hoodwink an airport worker into moving her to the head of the customs line.

Or perhaps a character will incorporate some trait I saw a passenger exhibit: how they approached eating each meal, a sideways shift of his eyes when he didn’t agree with a statement but chose not to engage in argument, a chuckle that turned into a giggle that turned into a knee-slapping roar.

Chinstrap Penguin in the Southern Ocean
I’m sure some writers would have recorded everything in a notebook so they could tap those recollections as needed. I am not that kind of writer. I have no patience for that kind of recording. For some time I kept a diary—sort of. A typical entry might read.

Weather good. Beat Olympia 3-2. (Only by the date could I know if this was soccer or baseball!)

King Penguin colony on South Georgia Island
I’d rather experience something than worry about trying to record it. I only take pictures as something of an after-thought. I want to experience the scenery before recording it. I want to watch the bird, how it uses lift from the waves to pop high into the air, how it uses its tail as a braking device, how it hops on the ground kicking over leaves. Oh yes, I like taking bird photographs, but sometimes I forget in the joy of watching them.

Magellanic Penguin
"If I turn my back on you will you stop squeaking?
The trip reminded me how much I enjoy being outdoors and how little I enjoy talking back to politicians on the television when they lie or avoid tackling hard topics. I missed the part of social media that keeps me in touch with friends and acquaintances; I did not miss the part of social media railing against others (regardless of whether I agreed or disagreed with their position).

I could choose to remain a Writer Unplugged. In some ways it would be easier to ignore all that’s wrong with the world and go my merry way without a care. Except, I prefer making decisions based on facts rather than beliefs, and by ignoring injustice, I’d lose the part of my core being that cares about the plight of others.

Cape Petrel in Southern Ocean
So, I shall return to being a Plugged-In Writer but commit to controlling how I gather news and interact with others about interpreting it. I shall not allow it to regain control of my time or my energy.

Oh, and so I don’t leave you with any false impressions, let me confess: I did manage to take 2,740 non-blurry pictures during the trip. How about you—what’s your biggest take-away from your latest trip or vacation?





P.S.  I am posting photos and commentary of this trip on Facebook, as though you were traveling with me with a 20-day delay. You can follow me on Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/james.m.jackson.author Be sure to check the Album as well as the daily posts. ~ Jim

Saturday, February 24, 2018

What’s in a comma? (or everything old is new again) by Kait Carson

If you are a baby boomer, you grew up in a time of change. We had new math—distinguished in ways I no longer recall from old math. A change of schools meant leaving phonetic spelling behind and entering the world of memorization. I envy people who can spell. The switch muddled my mind. Then there was the Oxford comma. That pesky comma that separates the last item in a series of three or more from the word that follows. It was required usage from my grade school days right though high school. Enter college creative writing courses and Dr. Clasby put red x marks though that last trailing comma. Old school, he scrawled across the top of more than one short story. “We don’t use the Oxford comma in this country,” he said more than once in every class.

It was the 1970s. American youth, and universities, were busy inventing sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. Who needed an old-world named comma slowing things down? For years Dr. Clasby’s prolific use of red ink on my papers made me cringe at the sight of the Oxford comma. I worked hard to erase it from my writing life. Those who edit my work suggest I might have gotten too zealous eliminating commas, but hey, what’s a comma among friends? The aversion comes from fear of red ink! When in doubt, leave it out.

The omitted comma, and I got along just fine, thank you, until I started working for law firms. Legalese requires that every word be supported and supportable. Clarity is the rule and the Oxford comma brings clarity. Comma usage became a bone of contention again. This time it was red ink in reverse. My attorney was putting in, not taking out, commas. WHAT WAS UP WITH THAT? Knowing better than to try to beat him, I joined him, but it meant going back over every document searching for the omitted Oxford comma. Each time I hit the comma key at the end of a list, I gritted my teeth and thought, this one’s for you, Richard.

Eventually, the Oxford comma became, dare I say it, rote. I still mess up my other commas, I’m just not good with them, but the Oxford, it shows up even in my creative writing. Danged good thing too. Turns out, there is a price for Oxford commas. $5,000,000. Yep, the lack of an Oxford comma cost a Maine company $5,000,000. I’m glad I wasn’t the paralegal who typed that contract. Proponents of the Oxford comma are vindicated. Use it, or lose big time. As for the rest of my commas, I get by with a lot of help from my friends.

Writers, how do you feel about the Oxford comma?
Readers, does the Oxford comma look out of place or just right to you?

I’m looking forward to your comments, but I gotta go check my last pleadings and agreements. For the want of a comma, the case was lost.

Friday, February 23, 2018

1955 The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith: A Review by Warren Bull



Image from Pixabay

1955 The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith:  A Review by Warren Bull

First published in 1955, The Talented Mr. Ripley is considered by most reviewers to be a classic. With her first novel, Strangers on a Train, Highsmith announced her arrival as a writer to be reckoned with.

Highsmith created an air of impending menace from the opening of the novel. The reader is led to expect that something unnamed but dangerous could happen at any moment. The author’s depiction of Ripley’s thoughts is remarkably effective. I felt like someone witnessing a serious accident. I didn’t want to look but I could not pull myself away. Ripley’s self-justification and deflection of responsibility for his actions sound like statements from people I know. Ripley reacts from one moment to the next based on transitory thoughts and feelings. His violence is not planned in advance. He is nearly as surprised by the outbursts as those he attacks.  


This is a classic noir novel.  It is unique and irreplaceable. To understand the concept of noir, read this.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

WHEN DID I START WRITING






I Told My Brother Stories

                                                            I told my brother stories
                                                            when we were tucked in bed.
                                                            I told my brother stories
                                                            I made up in my head.

                                                            I told my brother stories
                                                            after we had said our prayers,
                                                            and our father kissed and left us
                                                            in the room we shared upstairs.

                                                            I told my brother stories
                                                            when tell me a story I’d hear.                           
                                                            We should have been asleep but
                                                            he’d beg from his bed so near.
                                                                                                           
                                                            I told my brother stories
                                                            Once upon a time, I’d say
                                                            or continue one I’d started
                                                            before sleep took us    

                                                            I told my brothers stories
                                                            in a voice so soft and low
                                                            so our parents couldn’t hear us
                                                            in the living room down below.
                                   
                                                            I told my brother stories
                                                            when we were tucked in bed.
                                                            Now those stories are all gone
                                                            that I made up in my head.

This past week my handyman came to put in a railing on my back steps because of all the ice it was dangerous to go down without anything to grab onto. Usually, he has a helper, but this time he brought his wife to help him carry the boards he had brought and hold things for him. Off and on I looked out the window to see how he was coming. When they were close to be done, I opened the door and asked his wife if she liked to read. I thought of that because I had the first book in my series on the table near the back door waiting for me to take out to my car where I keep at least two copies of all the books I’ve written. She said, yes that she loved to read so I told her I’d give her a copy of the first book I’d written.

When they had finished the job they came in so I could pay him. I signed the book for her and asked her if she wanted to see my library. She told me her husband had told her a lot about me and my house and library. She said her whole family was readers. She was impressed by all my books and when I told her I was working on the tenth in my series she wanted to know when I started writing. All I told her is when I first started writing my series, but it caused me to think about when I did start writing, and realized it was when I was a teenager.

A few years ago I came across a Spiral Composition Book with five short stories written with a pencil and a little hard to read right now, and seven poems, plus something I wrote describing my nine best friends that I didn’t name so I had a hard time figuring out the other night who was who. I know who my nine best friends were, but not sure which description fits who since none of them live anywhere close now and several are no longer alive.

At one of our class reunions a few years ago, one of my fellow graduates had a paper I’d put in the school newspaper (I was the editor of it for a few years) in which I’d written a four line poem for each of our 57 class members. Well, I’m not sure there was one of me in that or not. I don’t have a copy of it.

However, once I graduated, got a job, and started dating the guy I would eventually marry, I didn’t do much writing, nor did I once we got married and eventually had four babies in less than five years. The only writing I did then there were letters to sisters in college or who lived away.
His senior prom with cane he decorated.

A year after my eighteen year old son died of cancer, as I’ve written about here before; I went to college for the first time. I was forty-two years old and I loved it. Unlike the students who were fresh out of high school and mostly sat in the back looking bored, I was that enthusiastic student who laughed at some of the jokes the occasional professor told while the others didn’t have a clue.

Most of all I loved the English, literature and poetry classes I took.  I loved writing essays and poetry and had several printed in the ICON, the college’s literary booklet that came out twice a year. After the first year, I took extra classes in literature and poetry. Because I was close in age to many of those professors, we became friends. I also took summer classes at the main campus in Kent, Ohio.

When I graduated I wasn’t writing much anymore. I was substituting until I got a third grade position at Hiram Elementary School in the small town of Hiram which has a university. In spite of what some people think, teachers have very little free time. Evenings and weekends were often spent grading papers or making up lesson plans.

We all have our own tents. This one is mine.


Summers weren’t much better. I had gardening to do, camping trips with my sisters, and I went to garage sales to find things for prizes when my students managed to accumulate ten funny monies that I’d made and laminated for something special they had done. Also, I bought children’s books and things for my classroom that would go along with whatever units I’d be teaching.

So when did I get back to writing? I went on to get my master’s degree in the evenings while I was teaching which included at least one poetry class so I wrote more essays and poetry then.

I retired in 2006 after teaching twenty years. I didn’t like the way I had to teach in the new school we had moved to and the principal who didn’t really like kids that much. I didn’t like having my students changing classes so I didn’t have them very much each day. Yes, I like teaching science, but not to three different classes. I had less than a half hour to teach English.
I did start substituting in several schools and pretty much enjoyed that except for teaching kindergarten. At that age, they still needed shoes tied and, they didn’t like it that I might be doing something their teacher didn’t do, or I couldn’t remember everyone’s name after I’d taken attendance, or that they had a hard time paying attention and not poking each other when we sat in a circle and I read to them.

Sometime in 2011, my sister Elaine who was teaching seventh and eighth grade social studies in a school close to her home, but fifty miles from me arranged for us to meet at our sister Suzanne’s house that is sort of half way between of us, and proposed that we start writing mysteries in a series so we had money for our retirement. (Laugh everybody) Well that night we came up with some ideas for the first book while Suzanne fixed us coffee and snacks and with the news channel on the TV. So we decided that Elaine and I would work together on writing that first book. It only worked for a few months. Elaine was still teaching and didn’t live close so I sent my chapters to her, and she wrote the next chapter. Sometimes we still got together at Suzanne’s house, but it usually ended up with their watching the news on TV.



It wasn’t long before I took over writing the book. We both have different voices and it was hard finding time to get together anyway. So the first book The Blue Rose came out in December 2012, and I continued writing the series as well as short stories for different contests and poetry, too, which I send to The Ohio Poetry contests each year for those who live in Ohio or did at one time.

After reading those stories and poems I wrote as a teenager, I’ve decided to type them up and save them so they’ll be easier to read, but I don’t intend to send them to contests even though they aren’t that bad.

When did you start writing?
What do you write?