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

October Interviews
10/2 Debra H. Goldstein, Two Bites To Many
10/10 Connie Berry, A Legacy of Murder
10/17 Lida Sideris, Double Murder or Nothing
10/23 Toni L. P. Kelner writing as Leigh Perry, The Skeleton Stuffs A Stocking
10/30 Jennifer David Hesse, Autumn Alibi

Saturday Guest Bloggers:
10/5 Ang Pompano
10/12 Eyes of Texas Anthology Writers
10/19 Neil Plakcy

WWK Bloggers: 10/26 Kait Carson


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Lyrical Press will publish Kaye George's Vintage Sweets mystery series. The first book, Revenge Is Sweet, will be released in March. Look for the interview here on 3/11.

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.

KM Rockwood's "Frozen Daiquiris" appears in The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense, edited by Judy Penz Sheluk. The anthology was released on June 18th.

Fishy Business anthology authors include KM Rockwood, Debra Goldstein, and James M. Jackson. This volume was edited by Linda Rodriguez.

Please read Margaret S. Hamilton and Debra Goldstein's short stories (don't ask about their modus operandi) in a new anthology, Cooked To Death Vol. IV: Cold Cut Files.

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

Grace Topping's mystery, Staging is Murder was released April 30.


Sunday, March 18, 2018

A Long Overdue Thank-You Note

by Julie Tollefson

A couple of weeks ago, I shared the stage at an Authors and Appetizers fund raiser with author Pam Eglinski, who writes suspense, historical fiction, and time travel novels. In one of life’s crazy coincidences, Pam’s late husband holds a special place in my memories as someone who changed my thinking and taught me to be a better writer.

Dr. Edmund Eglinski taught art history at the University of Kansas. His class introduced me to great artists and their work, but I remember him as the only professor in my four and a half years of undergraduate education to really teach me how to write a research paper. He reviewed my first attempt and gave thoughtful, comprehensive, direct feedback that showed me the right way to research and write an academic paper.

I never thanked him, in part because at the time, I didn’t realize what a rare and meaningful gift it was to receive such personalized, detailed attention.

Reminiscing about Dr. Eglinski and his influence on my writing brought to mind another individual who made a brief appearance in my life forty years ago. (Oh, my, where did the decades go?) She was a student teacher in my eighth-grade English class, and if memory serves, she only worked with us for a few weeks. But what a lasting impact!

In the most memorable assignment of that period, she asked us to write an essay describing a basketball. I thought the assignment was stupid, and I “forgot” to do it until I panicked about 15 minutes before class. (I’ve always been a rule follower. Skipping class, missing assignments, getting any grade lower than an “A” gave me massive anxiety.) I scribbled something along the lines of “round, orange, with black lines” and turned it in. I knew it wasn’t my best work, but really, the assignment was ridiculous.

Our student teacher, though, as yet too new to the profession to give up on uncooperative, difficult, know-it-all teenagers, pulled me aside for a one-on-one chat about my work. She knew what I was capable of as a writer, she said, and the basketball essay didn’t even come close. She gave me a second chance and guilted me into taking it.

So I sat, with a basketball in my hands and ran my fingers over its uneven surface, its original bumps worn smooth in patches by thousands of bounces on the concrete driveway. I smelled it, dusty and musty and maybe a hint of dog poop from when it bounced astray? I really looked at its color, which wasn’t uniformly orange after all.

Then I wrote a detailed, almost poetic, description about that basketball, and I learned a few things about writing:

1. Don’t settle for easy. My best writing is never easy.

2. Look beyond the obvious and superficial. Sure, a basketball is orange and round, but it might also be a symbol of love between father and daughter who bond over March Madness or a symbol of loss, deflated and abandoned in the weeds beyond the edge of the court at a neighborhood park.

3. Question perception. To me, the assignment was a waste of time, but our student teacher (I wish I could remember her name!) turned it into a lifelong lesson.

4. Writing is rewriting.

All writers have long lists of people to thank for helping them along the publishing path. These two—Dr. Eglinski with his commitment to showing the right way to approach academic papers and a student teacher who refused to accept shoddy writing—gave more than they had to and inspired me to be better as a result.

Who are the people who influenced your life? Have you thanked them?


Jim Jackson said...

My seventh grade Core teacher (English, Reading, Social Studies) went to bat for me when I was an obnoxious, under-performing know-it-all in seventh grade and prevented others from removing me from advanced math. In later years I did get my act together and won some math contests for the high school. At the end of high school, I searched her out and thanked her.

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

I had a creative writing instructor in college for one semester. She was the first one who got me thinking that perhaps I had some writing talent. I never thanked her, but then it wasn't like in high school where you had the class the entire year. But I do think of her every once in a while. I'm glad you had that experience, Julie. It seems to have been pivotal.

Kait said...

Sr. Marie Therese was my sophomore year English teacher. I have tried to find her over the years, written to the mother house, contacted the school. Nothing. Not a hint.

I wanted to write from the time I was old enough to hold a pencil. I never knew if I had any talent until my sophomore year. Sr. Marie Therese announced she was going to read some of our short stories aloud and name the authors after the story. She read one or two in their entirety. The authors stood at the end, received their accolades and sat back down. Then she read the first sentence of mine and stopped saying that was enough of that. My heart fell to my shoes, I was certain the story was awful, I wanted to crawl under my desk, but my classmates clamored for the rest of the tale.

Sr. came to my desk and pointed me out, explaining that the function of the first sentence is to make the reader want more. It was my first encouragement as a writer. I still trot it out when I need a lift!

Warren Bull said...

I think in was in seventh grade I remember the face and the voice, but not the name of the teacher who insisted that student write something every day in a notebook he would read and comment on. Moat students thought it was a grind and tried to leave wide margins on the page of space between sentences. I found it was no problem to fill a page and go on to write more.Hey! I can do this.

Grace Topping said...

In my junior year of high school,I entered a writing competition. Later I overheard two teachers say they only received two submissions but one was so awful they hadn't even considered it. Since I wasn't the winner, it was obvious they were talking about my submission. Deflating. Many years later I obtained the job as a writer-editor, and my supervisor thought my work was great. It was probably only just good, but her confidence in me made me want to do better. She was also a great influence on me becoming a mystery writer. She asked me to go along with her to a Malice Domestic Conference. Previously I never given a thought to writing a mystery. But afterwards, I was hooked!

Gloria Alden said...

When I started college at the age of 42, my first English professor was wonderful. We became good friends who went to flea markets and did other things, too, even after I no longer took her classes. She encouraged me in my writing although except for essays and poetry I didn't do much writing until after I retired from teaching. Once I was teaching we sort of lost contact and she moved to Florida and I don't know where in Florida she lives. I've so wanted to mail her copies of my first book and short stories and let her know that she was the one who really started me on the path to writing. I had other good English or poetry professors, too, but again I don't know where they are now.

Shari Randall said...

When I was working at my first job out of college, at my hometown newspaper, I was one of only two women in the newsroom. The other was Phyllis Donovan, an elegant woman who edited the "Women's" page, which became the "People" page while I was there. She was a beacon of style and dignity who shone brightly amid the reporters who embraced their brash, profane, tough-guy stereotype. Phyllis encouraged me to write features. The day after I published my first full-page piece, one of the guys came over and shook my hand, saying "that's the best thing anyone at this newspaper's ever written." Blew me away, but Phyllis glowed. She believed in me and gave me a shot, and I'll never forget her.
Off to write that thank you letter!

Julie Tollefson said...

Hey all, I'm on the road today with spotty Internet connections, but I want you to know that I really enjoy all of these stories. They're inspiring and, in some cases (Grace!), heartbreaking!