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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Sunday, February 23, 2020

Deadline Madness Ramblings



As I’m writing this, I’m in the midst of Deadline Madness. On steroids. While working through the edits for the 10th Zoe Chambers Mystery, I’m promoting the release of Under the Radar, which is the ninth. Daily, I ask myself two questions:

11)    Whoever came up with having a major deadline hit at the same time as a release?
22)    What book am I supposed to be talking about today?


I don’t know about you, but when I have a deadline looming, my brain gets frazzled. I get totally immersed in how to change a scene or how to re-weave a thread throughout the tale. And then I go to a book event and someone asks about the “new book.”

Except, to me, that’s the old book.

The gears in my brain grind from fifth gear to reverse.

The part that gives me nightmares is the fear of revealing a spoiler. Seriously, I have a recurring nightmare that I drop a bomb from the book I’m writing or revising without realizing, in my reader’s mind, that hasn’t happened yet!

Oops.

It’s the equivalent of having a friend tell you about last night’s episode of your favorite television show—the one you’ve DVRed and not had a chance to watch.

The real issue, though, is time management. I have so many pages in the book and so many days to complete the edits. Simple division should work, giving me a daily page goal. Once I meet that goal, I’m free to spend the rest of my day on other writerly business.

In theory.

In reality, I’m happily buzzing along adding description or trimming too much or fulfilling whatever requests my editor has made when bam! A beta reader sends me a comment about a major issue. The foundation of my plot.

Basically, it doesn’t work.

At which point the page goals explode in my face. Unfortunately, the explosion hasn’t done a thing to push back the deadline.

Now what?

In my case, I step away for a few hours. I do the laundry. I run the vacuum. I rearrange the furniture. All the while, my brain churns on the problem at hand.

Did I come up with a solution?

Yes! Is it a good solution? Maybe. Right now, I’ll be happy with it being “plausible,” because with that firm (and fast approaching) deadline, I don’t have time to rewrite the entire book.

We write fiction. But we also have readers who are smart. They’ll call us on a glaring error.

However…

I repeat. We write fiction. Frankly, I don’t want to provide a textbook, especially one that tells precisely and accurately how to commit murder. I keep remembering the old MacGyver. Not the new one, which I have mixed feelings about—a subject for another day. 

In the old series, MacGyver could make a bomb out of anything. Except, the writers left out one or more key ingredients. They didn’t want some high school kid mimicking the show and blowing up his bathroom. Or worse.

So if I fudge a little on the murder method, I hope my readers don’t call me out on it.


Saturday, February 22, 2020

Reading and Learning by Kait Carson


The writing world lost a giant August 9, 2019. Lea Wait passed away after a long and valiant battle against pancreatic cancer. Long battle and pancreatic cancer do not usually appear in the same sentence. In Lea’s case, the phrases are apt. Lea did more than battle. She wrote an entire book, and got it through final edits. The book, the last in the Mainely Needlepoint series, is titled Thread and Buried.

The publication of Thread and Buried struck a chord. I wanted to honor this woman I had never met in my own way. Anyone who could remain creative and upbeat while undergoing cancer treatments deserved something. I had read some of Lea’s books, and enjoyed them. To honor her memory, I bought the Mainley Needlepoint series and set out to read them in order. The books are well-written, characters engaging, and the plots satisfying. I’ve read reviews where readers commented that Lea, knowing this would be the last of the series, should have tied up all the storylines. I’m glad she didn’t. It’s much more fun to imagine how life in Haven Harbor continues.

Midway through book two, I made a surprising discovery. Each chapter of the books is introduced with the quote and a description of a sampler. I’d been reading the quotes and enjoying them, but not giving them much thought. This time the sampler was done by a six-year old girl and contained three alphabets. That’s when the penny dropped. Somehow in my education, and I have a degree in history, I’d decided that common folk, and women in particular, were not educated. How is it then that they were stitching alphabets and sayings at the age of six? I went back and studied the earlier samplers, and paid attention to those that appeared in future chapters.

Young women of all social classes in New England, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and to a certain extent in Maryland and Delaware were taught needle arts. And those needle arts clearly promoted literacy. Intrigued, I tried to find some history of female literacy in the United States. I was fully expecting to find that illiteracy was the rule, and literacy the exception. Apparently, I was not alone in my misconception.

The Foundation for Economic Education suggests that 50% of the women and 80% of the men in New England were literate by 1795. Those figures are based on the signatures on Wills, which may skew the statistics. Not everyone had a Will then, or now. The first hard figures I could find on literacy were not broken out by sex, but were just as startling. The National Center for Educational Statistics quotes statistics beginning in 1870 when the illiteracy rate for the adult population of the United States was 20%. Sadly, the black population at that time was 80% illiterate, a statistic that is attributed to the lack of education afforded blacks in the pre-Civil War south, and a lack of educational opportunity in the north.

All of these figures were a revelation to me. I would have expected to discover that the illiteracy rate in the United States was in the 80% range in the 1700s and anticipated a similar figure in subsequent years. Lea Wait’s Mainely Needlepoint series opened my eyes to more than a good story. I think Lea would have been pleased that her books not only entertained, they educated.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Fighting Words 1 by Warren Bull


Fighting Words 1 by Warren Bull









John C. Calhoun developed and wrote language that hastened the American Civil War. Early in his political career, Calhoun favored expansion of the federal government, supporting tariffs to raise money, a national banking system and improvement in transportation. He served as Vice President in Andrew Jackson’s administration.  However, he discovered that his beliefs made him unpopular throughout the south and especially in his native state of South Carolina. He quietly reversed his position but kept the change to himself.
Without telling the President, in 1828 Calhoun anonymously wrote a pamphlet titled “Exposition and Protest” which passionately criticized a proposed tariff. Calhoun took the position that state “interposition” could block enforcement of federal law. The state would be obliged to obey only if the law were made an amendment to the Constitution by three-fourths of the states. The “concurrent majority”—i.e., the people of a state having veto power over federal actions—would protect minority rights from the possible tyranny of the numerical majority.

Two years later, Calhoun’s argument was echoed by South Carolina Senator Robert Hayne who said secession might be necessary to preserve state and personal rights. South Carolina, fortified by the recent election of many "state nullifiers," formed a convention that denounced the tariff and formally adopted an Ordinance of Nullification declaring the tariffs null and void and forbidding the collection of duties within the boundary of the state. Finally, the ordinance declared that any act of force by Congress against South Carolina would lead to its immediate secession from the union.
Andrew Jackson advised his Secretary of War Lewis Cass to prepare for war, and over the course of a few months, Cass compiled arms and enlisted a militia in preparation to enter South Carolina to enforce the tariff and prevent secession. During his war preparations, Jackson engaged in a national public relations campaign to discredit nullification in the mind of the American public. Jackson gave speeches against nullification that vehemently denounced South Carolina and promoted unionism. Jackson also gave a special speech to Congress asking them to reaffirm his authority to use force to ensure the execution of United States laws, which Congress promptly complied with the request.
Jackson threatened to come to South Carolina and to personally hang everyone who advocated the state leaving the union. He wrote that nullification might be used in support of secession over the issue of slavery in the future.
Only during the crisis did Calhoun tell Jackson about his new political beliefs. The crisis ended when a lower tariff was passed but for the first time, the prospects of secession and Civil War were seriously raised. Although Thomas Jefferson and James Madison had argued that the states should have more power than the federal government, Calhoun developed the language for succession that would be adopted in the future.
In 1832 succession was too radical for other states including Georgia which condemned the action. However, within 30 years the idea took hold and ultimately was used to justify secession.


Thursday, February 20, 2020

What To Keep Track of When You're Plotting a Mystery by Marilyn Levinson



Keep in mind all aspects of your sleuth's personal and professional life.

Don't forget to include updates in the lives of your sleuth's love interest, family, and friends.

Who are your victims and why were they murdered?

Who are your suspects and why are they considered potential murderers?

Make the most of the season (holidays, special events and celebrations.)

Always keep your setting in mind. Have a mental map of your town. Even better, draw one.

Make a list of all your characters and make sure you don't change their names midstream. (Don't laugh. My editor caught me putting Sammy, my real cat's name, in the manuscript instead of Smoky Joe.)

Most important: as you write, keep track of your days so that Friday follows Thursday. And of your weeks, so that you know if you're still in April and not yet in May. It will save you time later on.

Be careful when you name your characters. Don't start too many names with the same letter. Vary the number of syllables. Consider that some readers might confuse names like Don and Bob. Don't end all of your female names in a or ie.

Keep track of where all your suspects are at the time of each murder.

If you're writing a series, be sure to vary your methods of committing homicide. Whatever the method, the details may be few, but those you include must be authentic.

Have your sleuth acquire information in various ways. Consider that some sources of information may not be accurate or truthful.

Create secrets for your characters. Whether or not they are part of the murder investigation, secrets intrigue readers. Unearthing secrets may provide a piece of the investigative puzzle. They may also be used to send your sleuth in the wrong direction entirely.

Consider your characters' emotions. Readers love to cheer your sleuth on. They love to see her nemesis get put in her place.

A love interest adds a dimension to your book, but don't let it overshadow the mystery.

Red herrings and misdirection are necessary to maintain suspense.

Even if your protagonist is an amateur sleuth, the police will have a place in your book. Don't make them out to be idiots. While your sleuth may not have access to their labs and equipment, he/she may know the victim's family, friends or neighbors, who may be more willing to talk to share information.








Wednesday, February 19, 2020

An Interview with Author Elizabeth Penney by E. B. Davis


Welcome to the first in the Apron Shop mystery series by Elizabeth Penney, set in the quaint village of Blueberry Cove, Maine where an expert seamstress turned amateur sleuth is getting measured for murder. . .

Iris Buckley is sew ready for a change. After the death of her beloved grandfather, Iris decides to stay in her Maine hometown to help out her widowed grandmother, Anne—and bring her online hand-made apron designs to real-time retail life. Her and Anne’s shop, Ruffles & Bows, is set to include all the latest and vintage linen fashions, a studio for sewing groups and classes, and a friendly orange cat. The only thing that they were not planning to have on the property? A skeleton in the basement.

Anne recognizes the remains of an old friend, and when a second body shows up in the apron shop—this time their corrupt landlord, whom Anne had been feuding with for decades—she becomes a prime suspect. Now, it’s up to Iris to help clear her name. Enlisting the help of her old high-school crush Ian Stewart who, like certain fabrics, has only gotten better-looking with age and her plucky BFF Madison Morris, Iris must piece together an investigation to find out who the real killer is. . .and find a way to keep her brand-new business from being scrapped in the process.

In Hems & Homicide, main character Iris Buckley is trying to open a shop despite her irritating landlord, an over-zealous building inspector, and a murdered skeleton in the shop’s basement. At first, I found it unlikely that anyone could earn a living by selling aprons and linens in a coastal shop. But then I realized that was untrue.

I had bought a table runner, designed and printed by a local artist, from a local shop on Hatteras Island, where I live. Her biography was attached to the sales tag. Her background was nearly identical to Iris’s. After graduating from a design school, she created linens for a large home goods store and then went out on her own, designing and selling her own creations to the public. Yes, it surely can be done, well done, in fact. I love my table runner.

Hems & Homicide is the first book in The Apron Shop Mystery Series. Although I identified more closely to Iris’s grandmother, I found Iris a likeable and logical character. The discovery of a skeleton in the basement of Iris’s shop, Ruffles & Bows, begins the mystery of a missing woman from the early 1970s. I love when an old mystery leads to a new one. Iris’s grandmother’s memories felt like a nostalgic journey. Iris takes chances to solve the mystery, even risking a possible romance. She’s got pluck and good priorities.

Please welcome Elizabeth Penney to WWK.                                                                              E. B. Davis

Please describe Blueberry Cove, Maine, your setting, to our readers. Do you live in a place like Blueberry Cove?

Blueberry Cove is inspired by two real towns, Belfast and Camden, Maine. Like Camden, my fictional town is small, set between rounded hills and a curved bay filled with islands. The Main Street is a mix of brick and clapboard structures filled with interesting small stores and restaurants. Homes are a mix of periods, ranging from classic sea captain’s homes to elegant summer cottages to bungalows and ranches. But while Blueberry Cove resembles Camden a great deal, it isn’t quite as gentrified. There’s still a working harbor and more of a mix of residents, like Belfast.

How did Iris and Grammie Anne come to have such a close relationship?

When Iris was eight, her parents were killed in a car accident, and she came to live with Grammie Annie and Papa Joe. This shared loss forged a strong relationship between Iris and her grandparents. Plus Anne is energetic, open-minded and fun, someone people trust and confide in. Iris and Anne respect each other, acknowledging the strengths each bring to their shared life and new business.

Madison, Iris’s best friend, drives a Mini Cooper. Iris drives a 1963 Ford Falcon. Grammie drives a 1988 Jeep Wagoneer and a Saab 900S. What does each car say about its driver?

Iris adores mid-century design in her clothing—and her cars. The Ford Falcon isn’t flashy but it’s stylish and very cool, like Iris.

The Mini suits Madison because it is nimble, fast, and fun to drive. Madison is graceful and athletic, a bit of a dare devil, and full of energy.

As for Grammie, she’s both practical and sophisticated. The Wagoneer is perfect for winter and for hauling big loads. The Saab 900S is good in snow too, but it also hugs curving coastal roads like a dream. Grammie has a bit of a lead foot at times.

When helping Iris open Ruffles & Bows, what marketing strategy does Madison recommend?

Iris already had an online store, and as a designer, she’s pretty savvy about making things look good. But Madison helped Grammie and Iris create a coordinated social media and advertising campaign to announce the store’s opening. She also helped them segment their customers into groups, including serious collectors, nostalgic buyers, and trendy Millennials.

The skeleton of Star Moonshine, a transient girl who disappeared in the early 1970s, is discovered when Iris falls down the stairs of her shop and dislodges it hidden behind shelving. How does Grammie know the identity of the skeleton, and what relationship did she have with Star?

Grammie recognized a bracelet and clothing the skeleton is wearing. She loved Star and considered her a good friend. But in the ‘70s, people came and went freely, and Grammie truly believed that Star had moved on. Plus she was busy falling in love with Joe.

What is a Belgian Benedict?

Glad you asked! It’s a Belgian waffle topped with ham, poached eggs, and hollandaise sauce. Totally decadent and delicious.

What is spoofing?

Spoofing is an email (and phone) trick used by scammers and deceptive people to mask their true identities, using fake addresses. Spam emails claiming to be from legitimate companies (and looking for your personal information) are an example of spoofing.

What types of goods will Iris and grandmother Anne stock in Ruffles & Bows?

The shop stocks a mix of vintage aprons and linens, as well as aprons that Iris and Anne design and sew. They may add other items as they go, for example, vintage-themed kitchenware and decorative accents.

Most of the shop owners in Blueberry Cove seem to get along. In fact, two of them are close friends. But this isn’t the case with gallery-owner Charlotte Ramsey. Why?

New to town, Charlotte is under the wing of wealthy leading citizens Nancy and Elliot Parker, which makes her feel superior to Iris and her friends.

Ian Stewart graduated from high school with Iris. He’s a good-looking man and a carpenter. She asks him to help her renovate the shop, but she is also attracted to him. Why doesn’t Ian’s mother like Iris?

Iris and Ian’s mother get off on the wrong foot because of complications in the murder case that involve Ian. That’s all I can say, ‘cause spoiler!

Although Madison is outgoing and sociable, she has a terrible dating track record. Why does she find the duds?

It’s more that they find her. Madison is so nice that she gives them a chance—if they are halfway presentable and have something in common with her. But once they reveal their true colors, she ditches them immediately. So she has a lot of one or two date relationships. Don’t we all know women like this, with everything going for them but they can’t find the right guy? I sure do, and have experienced this frustrating situation myself.

Iris’s landlord, Elliot Parker, who was in a rock band with her grandfather during the time of Star’s disappearance, seems to have gone from hippie to an arrogant, materialistic snob. Were they too young to know themselves or do people change as they age?

Elliot was always a materialistic snob, even when he wore long hair and tie-dye. Do people change as they age? Sometimes, if they want to, and try. But too many don’t, which provides lots and lots of plot ideas for my cozy mysteries!

Who are the “cupcake ladies,” and why do they remind me that age and maturity don’t necessarily go together?

Like Anne, they are older members of the Women’s Auxiliary, doers of good deeds around town. They thrive on gossip, which spices up their small town lives.

The next book in The Apron Store Mysteries is titled Thread and Dead. What mystery do Iris and her friends have to solve next?



  
Iris Buckley is busier than ever in July, with the town’s annual Lobster Festival fast approaching. In just a matter of days her shop will be jam-packed with tourists eager to lay eyes on its world-class collection of aprons and linens—and Iris’s inventory is running low. Then, just when all hope seems lost, Iris gets a call from Eleanor Brady, a wealthy, reclusive spinster who just happens to have trunks full of vintage fabrics. Would Iris like to come down to Eleanor’s cottage estate Shorehaven and have a look? Before long Iris is on the scene—and on the case. Turns out that Eleanor has rented Shorehaven out to the handsome, charismatic environmentalist Dr. Lukas de Wilde and his flock of students. What begins as an apron-scouting endeavor soon morphs into a full-blown murder investigation when Dr. de Wilde’s beautiful, young teaching assistant turns up dead. Now it’s up to Iris—along with her partner-in-love-and-crime Ian Stewart—to unravel the mystery before the Blueberry Cove killer strikes again.
 
Thread and Dead is available for pre-order.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Accepting a Romantic Challenge



by Paula Gail Benson

Maybe you’ve been hearing a lot of controversy about the Romance Writers of America lately. At this writing, the national organization has many issues to address; however, good things are happening with the local chapters. The opportunity I had to write “Wisest, Swiftest, Kindest” is one of them.

I’m not a reader of romance and I never planned on being a writer of romance, but I joined the Lowcountry Chapter of the Romance Writers of America (LRWA), based in Charleston, S.C., because of its craft programs and writing retreats. I very much appreciated all the good writing and marketing information I received at the meetings and through the online classes. Following a trip to Charleston, I always rode back to Columbia energized and ready to work even more diligently telling my stories.

This past year, I almost let my membership lapse. South Carolina now has many more groups that provide writing programs, ones taking place where I live rather than requiring travel.

But, I decided to re-up one more time and I’m truly glad I did.

The officers and members of LRWA decided to put together an anthology. Everyone in the chapter was encouraged to contribute. The organizers set up a rigorous process, including two beta readings and detailed submission of “collateral material” (read that as marketing tools including author bio and publication list, character bios, character photos available from royalty free sites or purchased for use, story excerpts, and tweets).

Here were the story requirements: they had to occur in Charleston, S.C., during any time-period, but set during the winter holidays (from Thanksgiving to New Year’s) and they had to be 7,500 words or less. Later, the 7,500-word-limit was extended to 10,000.

Okay, I tell myself. I can write short stories. Mostly I write mysteries in the 3,500 word range, but 7,500 is just two of my stories put together. And, I know the basics of a romance: attraction, conflict, HEA or HFN (“happily ever after” or “happy for now” for those uninitiated). How difficult could it be?

What’s the answer whenever that question is asked? Much more than expected. In my case, it was an eye-opening experience. My respect for romance writers, their craft, and their marketing skills has grown. I’ve learned so much that I can apply to any type or length of writing. I’m so incredibly glad I took on this challenge and had this group of dedicated women to walk me through the process, which included independent publication, another area about which I now have better knowledge.

Here’s some information about our anthology, Love in the Lowcountry (available on Amazon), the stories you’ll find there, and the authors who wrote them. Where available, please check out the links to the author websites.

Romance is heating up the winter holidays…
From paranormal to contemporary, from sweet to sultry, from first time love to love revived, discover both dark and deLIGHTful tales of romance amidst the intriguing backdrop of Charleston, South Carolina.

Best-selling authors join exciting new debuts in fourteen original stories of Love in the Lowcountry…

The Stories
Amy Quinton… – Hoodwinked for the Holidays Wanted: Ghost with good reviews for special holiday tour. Team Player a must. Matchmaking skills NOT required.

Angela Mizell – Mistletoe and Mayhem In the Unholy City, everyone has a secret.

Carla Susan Smith… – The Snow Leopard – What could be worse than being born into a family of shifters? Not being one.

Casey Porter… – The Illusion of Control– Having it together often means you don’t.

Elaine Reed… – Champagne Supernova– With everything going wrong, can she make New Year’s Eve go right?

Gracey Evans… – A Secret on Gillon – Bax’s fiery will and Raziel’s divine license to sin ignite trouble before fate steps in.

Jen Davis… – Hitman’s Holiday – His job is to kill her. But how can he take her life when she’s stolen his heart?

Jessie Vaughn – Kisses on King Street – It’s never too late to reclaim a lost love. Can rekindling a past romance yield later life love?

Michele Sims… – Poinsettias for Carly – A past unresolved is never the past.

Paula Gail Benson… – Wisest, Swiftest, Kindest – Two grad students connect though time travel to Charleston’s literary past. Is love enough to bring them home for Thanksgiving?

Rebecca A. Owens – A Charleston Christmas—Love Finds a Way – Is Chance and Wynona’s love strong enough to overcome a devastating loss and a deep secret?

Robin Hillyer-Miles – West End Club – Membership in West End Club is pure Charleston tradition. And marriage is the only way out of the December gathering.

Savannah J. Frierson… – A Silver Holiday – There’s better, there’s worse, then there’s spending the holidays with in-laws you can’t stand.

Zuzana Juhasova – Ghosted Home to You – She doesn’t need dating apps to get ghosted.

Wouldn’t you like to take a virtual vacation to Charleston, S.C.?