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

September Interviews

9/2 Dianne Freeman, A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder

9/9 Ellen Byron, Murder in the Bayou Boneyard

9/16 Marilyn Levinson, writing as Allison Brook, Checked Out for Murder

9/23 Rhys Bowen, The Last Mrs. Summers

9/30 Sherry Harris, From Beer To Eternity

September Guest Bloggers

9/19 Judy Alter

WWK Weekend Bloggers

9/5 V. M. Burns

9/12 Jennifer J. Chow

9/26 Kait Carson


For The Love Of Lobster Tales by Shari Randall is now available to download free for a limited time. Go to Black Cat Mysteries at: https://bcmystery.com/ to get your free copy! Thanks for the freebie, Shari.

Keenan Powell recently signed with agent Amy Collins of Talcott Notch. Congratulations, Keenan!

KM Rockwood's "Secrets To The Grave" will appear in the new SinC Chesapeake Chapter's new anthology Invitation To Murder, which will be released by Wildside Press on 10/6.

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!


Sunday, September 13, 2020


Research Travel 2020

By Abby L. Vandiver


I love doing research. I once wrote a blog post on it and maybe one day, I’ll share it here. But what it boiled down to was that I Google everything. I love finding out more about a subject than what’s in front of me (book, television program, blog post, it doesn’t matter, I want to dig further!) I’m the one who will go on a trip and find a tour company to tell me all about the history, neighborhood and people of the place I’m visiting. And me wanting to get all the info I can is no different when I write a book.

Because I write murder mysteries, I often have to research to find out the means used by the killer and effects of it. Like what a certain poison does, or how long it takes for a body to get cold (all gory stuff, I know, but necessary). I like to say that I mix fact with fiction because it has always been important to me to get things right in my books. I really feel that fiction needs to be swayed by reality. And one way to give a book an authentic feel is by the setting.

Setting is so important in a story. It helps your reader get inside the story with your characters. To know how a place feels. Smells. How the people talk and interact. It gives your story life. So of course, I like to “investigate” my setting because it’s hard to write about a place if you don’t have firsthand information about it. And how do I do that?

Remember how I said I like to visit different cities and take tours? Well, that’s all part of it. But first let me tell you what kind of traveler I am. I have been known to wake up early in the morning and decide to hop in my car and take a trip. Not a one tank, out-for-the-day kind of trip. No. I mean an 8 or 12-hour car ride kind where I pack a suitcase or two, or on occasion I have been known just to buy clothes once I get there. I usually do it for the enjoyment of it all, but I have also been known to do it as research for a story I was writing.

I haven’t been able to do it for every story I’ve written. Some are too far away. I once wrote a story where my main character was a Biblical archaeologist and she travelled the globe—Jerusalem, Belize, and the Andaman Islands, to name a few. No way could I travel to all those places. (For one, I’m semi afraid of flying and then there’s the cost—out of this world!)

So, for me as a writer when I couldn’t get to the places in my story, I feel lucky to live in a time where there is Google Earth. It can take you anywhere. I once traveled down a street in Italy on it, saw the people, read the street signs, “crossed” the street to “look” in the window of a coffee shop. But it’s a static adventure, the only thing moving is my mouse as I follow the satellite picture on my computer up the road. Not the best experience, but a nice futuristic-like and viable option for my research endeavors.

For my stories that take place in the States, though, I do like to go to the places I write about. I will fly, but for the most part I drive.

Now I’m working on a new book. It’s set in Mississippi. And it’s even a new genre than the one I usually write in and I wanted, of course, to get a feel for the place. Normally, as you probably know by now, I would just hop into my car and set my GPS. I’d talk to the people, visit the places I want to write about, eat the local cuisine and learn a little about the history. But these aren’t normal times. Our world has been turned upside down. I know that travelling is starting to open back up, but each place is different, and I’d rather stay put in a place where I know the lay of the land (and the response and updates on the pandemic response).

Bummer, huh?

But alas, I found something that wasn’t as good as actually being there, but a whole bunch better than Google Earth. A virtual tour!

I Googled (of course) a company in Natchez (the city in Mississippi where my story takes place) and found the Miss Lou Heritage Group & Tours (Miss Lou stands for Mississippi Louisiana and not a woman’s name (yep, I thought that at first, too)) and guess what? They took me on a virtual tour! We did it on our smart phones (how smart!). I got to talk to the tour guide and ask questions, just like if I were there. He highlighted all the important spots and then told me all about them. Since we were on our phones, whenever he showed me monuments and plaques, I was able to take pictures of them.


As you can see they are kind of blurry (I took them on my phone as he held up his phone to it, I know, I know, complicated, but it worked), but I can add these to my scrapbook and refer back to them whenever I need as I write my new book.

It was such a great, interactive experience to have. I still couldn’t feel the breeze through his open window or smell the Mississippi River as we drove past it, but still, it was an awesome experience. I learned so much and it helped me tremendously with the setting of my story. Now I can sit down, write it and feel like I kne the place. That’s what you call armchair travelling and research in the year 2020.




Jim Jackson said...

I never thought about a virtual tour -- what a great idea!

Kait said...

What a fabulous idea! Love that you can participate and ask questions, too.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Virtual tour! I love the idea. Natchez was a fun destination, particularly approaching it on the Natchez Trace from Jackson. Miles of two-lane road, not a car in sight. Perfect setting for nefarious deeds.

Susan said...

I, too, did a virtual tour of Bryant Park at Christmas time in NYC for a book. You are so right that adapting to this kind of research works when the real thing won’t work. Great post!

KM Rockwood said...

Where would we be without our internet resources? We can add authentic details, go back and re-visit places we have been in the past, and find lots of information about almost anything, all without having to leave our desks.

Grace Topping said...

What a clever idea to have someone give you a virtual tour of a place. You get to hear the things you probably wouldn't hear using Google Earth or reading web pages about the place.