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


June Interviews













6/3 Gretchen Archer, Double Trouble
6/10 Kaye George, Deadly Sweet Tooth
6/17 Annette Dashofy, Til Death
6/24 Adam Meyer


Saturday Guest Bloggers

6/6 Mary Keliikoa
6/13 William Ade
6/20 Liz Milliron


WWK Bloggers:

6/27 Kait Carson
6/30 WWK Writers--What We're Reading Now

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Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.


KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.


Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!


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, and Annette Dashofy for Best Contemporary Novel--her fifth nomination! All are winners but without Agatha Teapots. Onto 20121!


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."


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


Kaye George's second novel in the Vintage Sweets mystery series, Deadly Sweet Tooth, was released on June 2. Look for the interview here on June 10.


Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.


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!

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Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Tragedy into Fiction


I had one of those wonderful, rare moments of inspiration several days ago.

A short story sprang into my mind, fully formed. All I had to do was go to the computer and take down what was playing in my head.

I read it through quickly, and decided it was brilliant! By my standards, anyway.

When I have written something, I always put it away at least overnight, and take a second look at it the next day.

By the next morning, it had deteriorated to dreadful.

The third morning, it seemed reasonably good again. I went through it and made a few changes, but left it substantially intact.

I ran a spelling and grammar check on it. All I got back was an instantaneous “Spelling and grammar check complete.” I took that to mean the writing was at least passible.

Since I had a possible venue for it, I decided to send it in before it turned back to dreadful. I know how these things work—the more I look at it, the more I see shortcomings and the less I see potential strengths. If I didn’t act quickly, it would be permanently relegated to my overflowing “never to see the light of day” drawer.

The story was grounded in the present pandemic, which is disrupting everybody’s lives.

Sometimes I can use tragedy and misfortune in my writing. Other times, especially if the situation has hit very close to home, I can’t. I’ve not been able incorporate anything about 9-11 in my writing. I have tried a few times, and hope the time will come when I can, but right now all I can think of is a relative who died in the World Trade Center. She was on the phone with her mother, in a panic searching for a stairway that wasn’t on fire, when the building went down. All that was ever recovered of her were some teeth. They were identified by a forensic anthropologist months later, and the ceremony held to bury them opened all the sorrows again.

Perhaps because no one I am close to has died of the coronavirus, I can deal with it in a more abstract manner, and express my thoughts in stories. One of my brothers, a police officer in New York, had some symptoms early on but couldn’t get a test. He’s fine now. A friend who works at Walmart recently felt ill, but she was able to get a test immediately and was given paid leave to quarantine until the test results came back. She tested negative.

I keep a small stockpile of greeting cards for various occasions, and I sent out my last two sympathy cards yesterday. One to a member of my book club, whose mother died of COVID-19 in a nursing home, and one to a cousin whose father-in-law passed away, not sure if it was COVID-19 or not.

This morning, I was out for a medical appointment, and stopped at a pharmacy on the way home. I went to restock my sympathy card collection—I anticipate needing more as the pandemic worsens—and to my shock, they were all sold out.

There’s a poignant story in there somewhere.

Can you deal with the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” (Hamlet) by writing about them? Or are some things too tragic to write about?

12 comments:

Beth said...

Kathleen, I like your introspection about writing. You are "the tops," keeping us on our toes!

E. B. Davis said...

When I'm too close to an outrageous event, I can't write about it. If I did--it would be miserable. I've tried writing as therapy. That's fine, but I've learned that it isn't professional writing--it's dreadful writing. If I do use an experience, it would have to be as part of a secondary character's history, related in a third-person sort of way or as dialogue that the character relates to the main character. Very removed with remote emotion.

Let us know what happens with the short!

Kait said...

Oh, Kathleen, how sad about your relative.

Like you, I cannot write about an event while it is going on - or I'm going through it. That's what my journal is for. I have tried to incorporate events in my fiction. Awful stuff - Some events do show up in my stories, but never traumatic ones. Generally humorous.

Good luck with the short - keep us informed.

Barb Goffman said...

Kathleen, I'm so sorry to hear your relative died such a horrible death. It's terrible.

As to your question, I've mined a lot of personal incidents in my own stories. I've also based stories off bad things I read about in the newspaper or I've used such incidents as a springboard for plotting. My story "Alex's Choice," which came out last year, was partly inspired by a tragic death of a family on a beach and my wish to change the outcome for that family. I think that's one of the great things about writing crime--we can take a bad situation and try to make it a little better by providing justice or a different ending or ... something uplifting.

KM Rockwood said...

Thank you, Beth. We often do our best when we share our experience with other people.

E.B, that's a good insight on journaling. It helps work through things without having to worry about what anyone else thinks of the writing.

Kait, picking out the humor in actual events can be big plus. I'm thinking about the "Someday we'll laugh about this" experience we all have.

Barb, I loved that story. It was in the time-travelers anthology, wasn't it?

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Great blog, Kathleen. My world has become surreal, every day the same. I'm not sure I'll ever write about the pandemic.

Shari Randall said...

KM, you put into words what so many of us are thinking and feeling now. I'm so sorry about your relative - it's hard to come to terms with such a terrible event.
I haven't let any of today's events seep into my new series. I think it will be a Brigadoon, existing out of time, at least this time of covid 19. But going forward, I don't know how we can ignore it.

Barb Goffman said...

"Alex's Choice" was in Crime Travel, Kathleen. I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

Warren Bull said...

Possibly is time events will lose enough emotion that one could write about them.

KM Rockwood said...

Margaret, there's comfort to be had in routine, even mind-numbing routine. And we need to take comfort where we can.

Shari, I think you're right. Although this is a bit different for all of us, it will become part of our shared experience and intertwined in our lives and writing.

Warren, time heals many wounds, or at least puts them into perspective.

Kaye George said...

I need a lot of time and distance to process tragic, disruptive events. But the present mess is coloring my writing, for sure. I wrote a very dark short story last month. Then had to finish up a cozy. That wasn't easy, but I think people are reaching for cozies right now. My mind is going the opposite direction.

I'm so sorry you and yours had such horrible 9/11 happenings. Thanks for your thoughts.

KM Rockwood said...

Kaye, it's hard to write in a vein that is contrary to our current mood. But, as you show us, it can be done.