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


June Interviews

6/02 Terrie Moran, Murder She Wrote: Killing in a Koi Pond

6/09 Connie Berry, The Art of Betrayal

6/16 Kathleen Kalb, A Final Finale or A Fatal First Night

6/23 Jackie Layton, Bag of Bones: A Low Country Dog Walker Mystery

6/30 Mary Keliikoa, Denied


Saturday WWK Bloggers

6/12 Jennifer J. Chow

6/26 Kait Carson


Guest Blogs

6/05 Samantha Downing

6/19 Lynn Johanson













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E. B. Davis's "The Pearl Necklace" will appear in the new SinC Guppy anthology The Fish That Got Away to be released in July by Wildside Press. The anthology was edited by Linda Rodriguez. It will be released on June 21st.


Paula Gail Benson's monologue "Beloved Husband," from the perspective of Norton Baskin the second husband of Marjorie Kinan Rawlings (who wrote The Yearling and Cross Creek), appears in the Red Penguin Collection's An Empty Stage (released March 28, 2021).


Martha Reed's "Death by GPS" will appear in the Spring 2021 issue of Suspense Magazine, which will be released in the second week of April. Congratulations, Martha!


Susan Van Kirk has a new audiobook, A Death at Tippitt Pond, that will be released this month. Marry in Haste will be released in May by Harlequin Worldwide Mystery, as will Death Takes No Bribes in September. Congratulations, Susan.


Congratulations to Martha Reed. Her short story, "The Honor Thief" was chosen for the 2021 Bouchercon Anthology, This Time For Sure. Hank Phillippi Ryan will edit the volume, which will be released in August at the time of the convention.


Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Killer Weeds," appears in the January 20 edition of Texas Gardener's Seeds: From Our Garden to Yours. Congratulations, Margaret, who, if you follow Facebook know, is a superb gardener herself!


Congratulations to Paula Gail Benson whose "Reputation or Soul" has been chosen for Malice Domestic 16: Mystery Most Diabolical anthology to be released this spring.


KM Rockwood's "Stay Safe--Very Safe" appears in this year's 2020 BOULD anthology. Congratulations, KM!


Annette Dashofy signed with agent Dawn Dowdle of the Blue Ridge Literary Agency. Congratulations, Annette!

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Thursday, March 12, 2020

4BR/3.5BA Contemporary: The Story Behind the Story




By Margaret S. Hamilton




When I chatted with Andrew MacRae at Magna Cum Murder in 2018, I asked about his recent Mid-Century Murder anthology submission call. I knew a bit about mid-century architecture and interior furnishings, but I could also draw on my experience writing newspaper-ad copy for a residential real estate firm on the San Francisco Bay Peninsula, where a style of residential architecture, Eichler contemporaries, reigned during the post-World War II residential building boom. Eichlers were built with post-and-beam construction, open floor plans, exposed wood, and rear walls of glass—modernist architecture for the mass market.




MacRae was enthusiastic about Eichlers and encouraged me to write a story. I had no knowledge of California in the fifties, but could set my story in Cincinnati. Contemporary architecture wasn’t common in the close-in Cincinnati suburbs, but I remembered a whole street of mid-century houses in the suburb of Wyoming, where I had attended high school. I set my story in a friend’s family home, built on a hillside in the woods. Real estate websites provided photos of the architect-designed residence, which looked as fresh and inviting as it did in the seventies.




I created Sue, a local young woman denied a college education but determined to make her way in the business world, and her realtor husband Walt Wright—“buy and sell the Wright way.” After making a list of real estate advertising abbreviations and poring over several contemporary interior design books from the library, I had my main character and setting. I researched everything: pop songs, car makes and models, various types of investments, furniture, and art glass. Charley Harper was a noted Cincinnati commercial artist who lived in nearby Finneytown. I incorporated his bird serigraphs into the story.




I also wanted to include societal norms of 1958. Sue is her husband’s secretary and writes the firm’s advertising copy. Desperate to improve her business credentials and escape her typewriter and steno pad, Sue passes the realtor’s licensing exam. With a few successful “executive” residential listings and her own car, Sue will be on her way to building her career.



In Sue’s 1958 world, land-lines, typewriters, film developed at the drug store, and hand-delivered newspaper copy were the norm. In 2020, residential real estate advertising is internet-based, featuring 3-D house tours and aerial drone footage. Sue would agree that the basics are still the same: an immaculate and neutral home with curb appeal will sell if the ad copy evokes an emotional response from the potential buyer.



I still recall the ads I wrote that prompted customer phone calls. “A House Built for the Sunshine Kids” was a sun-splashed two-bedroom, one bath cottage, and “Executive Traditional with Cozy Family Spaces” was a brick home with a living room, separate dining room, and playroom over the garage. “Patio Vistas” was a nondescript ranch at the edge of a development overlooking a yet-to-be built field and “Gatehouse Luxury Under the Oaks” was an updated estate outbuilding, essentially one large room with two bedrooms and a bath on one side. “Renters Pay your Mortgage” was the charming red-tiled roof duplex with side-by-side one-bedroom apartments and “Pick Dinner in your Garden” was a non-descript ranch with an extensive vegetable patch.



When house-hunting, I, of course, am oblivious to everything except structural improvements, drainage, traffic noise, and that all important midwestern feature: the southern facing driveway to facilitate melting snow.



Readers and writers, have you succumbed to the lure of a compelling real estate ad?





Another WWK author, Kaye George, has a story, “Life and Death on the Road” in this anthology.






photo credits: Julia C. Turkevich (contemporary architecture),  Charley Harper Studios, Sharonville, Ohio (cardinal)


















8 comments:

E. B. Davis said...

I loved your story, Margaret! It was a blast to the past and authentically written for the time. The house sounded as if it were an Acorn House--modern with a touch of Falling Waters by Frank Lloyd Wright. I'm so glad you found a home for your story.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Thanks, Elaine! Researching the cars and songs of period was fun, plus learning how Charley Harper got his start illustrating the Ford magazine.

KM Rockwood said...

Fun to read the background of how this story came to be published in this anthology.

Warren Bull said...

Andrew is a great editor.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Kathleen, once I had the hook and main character, the rest fell into place.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Warren, yes, it was fun to brainstorm the story with him.

Shari Randall said...

Loved your story, Margaret. You know I'm a nut for all things midcentury. Like you, though, when looking for a real life house, those unsexy but practical items sway me - give me the new roof and south facing driveway every time. I can do the rest myself. congratulations, again - it's great to see your work in such a good anthology.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Shari, thanks. Who could forget musty manor with the 30 second microwave?