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

July Interviews

7/1 Lena Gregory, Scone Cold Killer
7/8 Jessica Baker, Murder on the Flying Scotsman
7/15 TG Wolff, Driving Reign
7/22 Leslie Budewitz, The Solace of Bay Leaves
7/29 Cynthia Kuhn, The Study of Secrets

Saturday Guest Bloggers

7/11 Mark Dressler
7/18 James McCrone

WWK Bloggers:

7/4 Valerie Burns
7/25 Kait Carson


Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!

Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!

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!

Look Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. 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.

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


Monday, August 3, 2020

Pharmaceutical Dreaming

(This blog originally was published in April of 2015.)

As some of you know, I’m recovering from a broken right wrist. I just got out of the cast and into a brace plus intensive physical therapy, which has caused a great deal of pain, and in order to sleep at night, I’m taking heavy-duty pain medicine as I was during the early weeks after the initial breaking of two bones.

This means weird dreams. That phrase seems redundant. Dreams are, by nature, non-rational, of course. But these drugged dreams are something else. Much more vivid and bizarre. The dead walk and talk again in my dreams right now. My children, the youngest of whom is about to turn thirty, are babes in arms and toddlers again in these dreams, even as I’m still a child myself, a sibling to my own kids. Every morning I wake in wonder at the strange, technicolor movies I’ve just experienced. 

Each morning I sit with my cup of tea and record another outlandish dream—a house suddenly filled with feral cats and I can’t figure out how they’re getting in or how to keep them out, a strange conference at an unknown university where I’m responsible for one of the programs when hundreds of ninjas attack, a ballroom dancing scene where I’m Ginger Rogers in chiffon and stilettos and only my unknown partner’s hand keeps me from floating off to join all the other people living on big multicolored clouds. 

I’m a writer, so you’d think some of these dreams would spark stories or books. I have had the germs of stories and books come to me in my dreams before, but not in medicated dreams like these. I know from sad experience that none of these will offer me anything more than a moment’s entertainment and wonder. I suppose that, if I wrote literary short fiction in the surreal school of writing, I might find them useful, but for someone who writes mystery novels and thrillers that must make sense to the average reader, these dreams are a waste of my unconscious’s creative skills.

What they do for me as a writer, however, is remind me that I have at my disposal an incredibly creative partner in that very unconscious. I simply have to find ways to guide its creativity and to ground it in the details of reality. That inventive part of my mind works constantly coming up with all kinds of stories, good, bad, bizarre, and humdrum. It’s up to me to harness and channel all that imaginative energy. Still, it would be nice if it could just toss up a nice, usable, Academy-Award-worthy story now and then.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for my nightly excursion into the world of flying cars, talking dogs, and Nazi storm troopers chasing me at a writers conference, plus other exciting adventures.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

On Character by Keenan Powell

“Simplicity is the essence of elegance, and the more we can ground complexity in a clear, coherent simplicity, the more our efforts, as they become more intricate, can hope to retain the elegance of truth.” – David Corbett, The Compass of Character

I have a new book premise. It’s been floating around in the back of my head for a few months. I set up the white board, wrote a log line, bought color-coded stickies, wrote snippets for the scenes flashing through my head on the stickies, and arranged them on the white board. I wrote three scenes and then I got stuck. Horrors!

So I signed up for a couple Masterclasses. One was with David Baldacci. He discussed this exact process and said when you’re stuck, it’s because you didn’t do enough research. I had the broad strokes of a story, so what research did I need to do?  Then it hit me: my characters. I was only feeling my way through my protagonist, had nothing on the antagonist, and only the vaguest idea of secondary characters, some of whom may not be necessary. I’m at the point in my writing career where I’d rather not spend a year on a manuscript only to have to do a major overhaul and maybe scrap most of it because I hadn’t done the prep.

I dug back into character. My go-to manual is The Art of Character by David Corbett, author of  the Lefty-nominated The Long-Lost Love Letters of Doc Holliday. He generously shares his knowledge teaching at Book Passages Mystery Writers Conference, as well as other conferences, and on Litreactor. I’ve taken his class at Book Passages twice, and just completed a Litreactor class in March. The beauty of the Art of Character is that it teaches the writer how to delve into personal experience and memories, tapping into all that fecund buried material to better access our characters.

I am so jazzed about his newest book, The Compass of Character, which I just started working through. The material compliments his first book but comes at character from a different point of view: the external and internal factors that combine to push a character to take action. Both books have exercises which I found useful in assimilating the material because I am a learn-by-doing person.

Who hasn’t heard the old saw “character must be three-dimensional?” Honestly, I don’t get it. The image does not fit into my paradigm despite pondering it for the better part of a decade. What I do get is layers. How on top we feel one thing and tell ourselves this emotion is the justification for our actions but the truth lays far more deeply buried. Where The Art of Character teaches the writer to drill down to the bottom layers, The Compass of Character teaches the writer how to build character from the bottom up. The two are a great set for the beginning and more experienced writers.

I'm thrilled to report the inspiration dam broke open, Dear Reader. I work in The Art in the morning at the laptop, The Compass in the evening lounging with a legal pad, and throughout the day I jot notes on legal pads strewn about my home. It’s a wonderous feeling to have my character and her world revealed to me.

If you want to learn more about David Corbett, check out his site: https://davidcorbett.com/.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Mystery with a Splash of Bourbon by Susan Bell and Elaine Munsch

Corralling 22 authors in four different states to write 18 short stories and 19 articles over the course of ten years and compiling all this into one anthology with only bourbon as the guiding principle is . . . not as simple as it sounds.

In 2008, our Louisville-based writing group, Derby Rotten Scoundrels (DRS), had already published two Kentucky Derby-themed anthologies in quick succession (2004 and 2006, respectively). Feeling confident, maybe even cocky, we decided to jump back into the anthology pool, only this time we would make liquid libation the central theme: bourbon – what’s more Kentucky than that? And the research that would be required for this project appealed to us.

Writers set about creating their stories, the only guiding principle being: it must be a crime story, it must involve bourbon somehow, and it must be 5,000 words or less. Others began research on the non-fiction articles we would use as transitions between each story. These articles would cover historical aspects of bourbon distilling in Kentucky, profiles of distilleries, and a glossary of bourbon terms (angels’ sharedevil’s cutrick housewort, etc.). We didn’t have to twist any arms to get volunteers to visit distilleries for research. Some of us did our research at home, sampling various brands of Kentucky’s finest spirit to truly immerse ourselves in the topic. The mashing of content began (the gnashing of teeth came later).

As the months progressed, authors brought their work before our group for critique. Stories and articles were reworked and re-critiqued. New stories were submitted. And critiqued. And reworked. New writers joined, eager to participate in the Bourbon Anthology. And so it went, month to month, year to year.

We made progress. Stories and articles were finalized and approved by the group. We had one person who collected all these final versions (in engineering, this is known as a single point of failure). Then life outside our group began to intervene – spouses became ill, some authors became ill, two passed away, and the project fell into a limbo of “one of these days we’ll pick it up again.”

Much research had been consumed when “one of these days” arrived. Slyly, one of our authors invited us (Susan Bell and Elaine Munsch) to lunch, during which lunch we were told “you have a moral obligation to complete this anthology - how can we drop the ball on this project that so many have participated in, sweated over, dreamed about?” Though we weren’t the presumptive leaders of the project, Elaine, being of Catholic disposition where guilt is up there next to Original Sin, agreed to see what we could do. We deemed the first step toward revival would be the purchase of more bourbon, for research.

We then went into detective mode, hunting down a record of who had written what and just where in the world were these hearty souls and where was the final version of their work? Elaine searched the internet, scanning obituaries (we are not a young group). We had to contact every author and ask, somewhat sheepishly, “Hey, remember that bourbon anthology we were working on years ago? Are you still interested in being included, and can you send us your final version if you do want to be included?”

It took another year for us to gather the final stories and articles and to compile all that into one cohesive manuscript.  We breathed a sigh of relief. The next step would be easy, we told ourselves: find a publisher. Because fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

We decided to submit to one publisher at a time. We got good feedback from that first publisher submission, but after waiting two months for a response, the answer was “sorry, this doesn’t fit our catalog at this time.” We tried a second, then a third publisher, and watched as the months dwindled away again.

After our third “No, thank you”, we finally got our “Yes”, from Mystery and Horror, LLC, a small, independent publisher out of Florida. We were ecstatic!

With a publication date set for June 2020, Elaine and I began marketing preparations – where should we have the release party, where can we do signings? We applied to the Kentucky Book Fair. We were very excited.

Then the Publishing Gods stepped in and said, “This has all been too easy for you, so we are going to drop a Global Pandemic on your head.”

So here we sit, self-isolating, our writing group not meeting out of virus fears, large events on hold or cancelled. But our book is published and is available via Amazon or Barnes and Noble. We are still waiting for word from Kentucky Book Fair – were we accepted? We don’t know yet. Will the book fair even take place this year? We aren’t sure. The only thing we know for sure is: we find, through extensive research, that Kentucky bourbon is awesome!

Elaine Munsch grew up on the shores of Lake Erie, but has made Louisville, KY her home for several decades. An avid reader, bookselling seemed to be the ideal profession, which she has practiced for over forty years. She is the author of the Dash Hammond series: The Price of Being Neighborly, The Cost of Kindness and The Expense of Family.

Susan Bell was born in coastal California, then proceeded to travel the country in her role as daughter of a Naval officer. She learned to walk in the Mojave Desert, to swim in Virginia Beach, and to read in Washington State. She fell in love with Dr. Seuss and hasn’t stopped reading since. She combined her love of reading, writing and arithmetic and became a technical writer, working in the defense, aviation, and telecommunications industries. With deep roots in the Bluegrass State, she now calls Louisville home.