Sunday, January 31, 2021

One Route to Authorhood


by Tammy Euliano

My road to becoming a published author has been rather circuitous. Recently my octogenarian parents handed over our childhood memory boxes, trophies (from the days when not EVERYONE got a trophy, but still not worthy of display), report cards, band medals and innumerable faded photos of BFFs long forgotten (is that what the second ‘F’ stands for?). Toward the bottom of the box, I found a couple of stories I’d written in First Grade, on that landscape paper with the triple lines. Does that paper still exist? In my childish print were childish stories of friendly lions and Laura the Ladybug. Though I recall none of it, apparently my writing gene activated in grade school, then took a long hiatus, reigniting only five years ago when, after writing an introductory textbook of anesthesia with my mentor, he suggested we write a novel together. Unfortunately, he fell ill and passed away before we made much progress, but those first chapters (which were awful by the way), sparked a fascination in me. I’d read widely, but never considered the craft involved. Even major issues like POV had never crossed my mind. As always, when faced with a challenge, I dove in head-first, beginning with research.

I read craft books on writing, soon discovering an entire world and breadth/depth of knowledge so far from the medical research articles I’d been invested in for two decades that I became enamored. After my first writing conference, I fell in love with the supportive character of writers, unlike the more competitive nature of medical conference attendees. And so I learned, and read, and wrote, and re-wrote, and pitched, and reeled from innumerable rejections, and bounced back with the help of amazing writer-friends, and finally had some short stories published, and received my first writing-related paycheck ($3), and volunteered to moderate a medical panel at Bouchercon, where I met an amazing fellow physician/author who invited me to submit my manuscript to her publishing company and here we are, a year later, and my debut comes out in March.

Many hurdles lie ahead, finding an agent being foremost. Oh, and navigating my first book launch while being a practicing physician in a pandemic. And not failing the main characters of my first novel, Fatal Intent, in their sequel. I’m told the only thing harder than writing the first novel, is getting the second published. Wish me luck!

What hurdles have you cleared so far? What’s next?


* * * * *

Tammy Euliano’s writing is inspired by her day job as a physician, researcher and educator at the University of Florida. Her short fiction has been recognized by Glimmer Train, Bards & Sages, Flash Fiction Magazine, and others. Her debut novel, a medical thriller entitled “Fatal Intent,” will be published by Oceanview March 2, 2021. You can sign up for her newsletter and find more information at

Saturday, January 30, 2021

More than One Way for a Writer to Travel by Gray Basnight

One of the best means of igniting the spark of inspiration for a crime or thriller novel is travel.  Fortunately, there are two modes of getting there: internal and external.  Internal, or dream travel, is entirely the domain of the imagination.  External travel is, of course, the real thing, the actual kinesthetic movement from point A to point B for the purpose of seeing and experiencing,


When the writer can’t get to the destination that fits the scene, internal travel -- right from their writer’s chair -- can take them on voyages, along with their characters, to…to…well, to anywhere.  Albert Einstein, who knew a thing or two about motion, said it best: “Logic will get you from A to Z, but imagination will get you everywhere.”  But when the location is a real place and the writer can’t get there in person, getting it right requires research.  Jules Verne, for example, never traveled the globe, but wrote Around the World in Eighty Days after lengthy study of going by steamer down the Red Sea, by elephant across India, and by train across the American wild west.  On the other hand, Ursula K. Le Guin could not research the false utopian city of Omelas for The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.  Yet she imagined it with such a vivid internal eye that her readers too saw it.    


Many writers tend to be actual nomads.  American crime writer Patricia Highsmith drew upon her itinerant travels in Europe to develop plot and character in the five Ripliad novels about con artist and serial murderer Tom Ripley.  Without her intimate knowledge of those towns and cities, poor Ripley would be stripped of his seductive, shadowy appeal. 


In some cases, the nomad finds semi-settlement in a city that becomes the scene of the crime to such a degree that its practically a character incarnate.  Dashiell Hammett was from Maryland, traveled the country as a Pinkerton, and wrote most of his stories while in San Francisco.  Raymond Chandler was from Chicago and Nebraska but spent a chunk of time in Los Angeles.  Consequently, their private detectives, Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe respectively, worked the streets of their adopted cities just as the great one named Holmes worked in London.  Sherlock’s creator, by the way, was a physician from Edinburgh and traveled widely as a ship’s doctor.      


For my latest thriller, Madness of the Q, I split the difference between internal and external travel.  The story explores what might happen if an ancient religious document is unearthed that could alter the origins of the New Testament.  This meant it would have to unfold on an international scale.  It’s set in NYC, Israel, Venice, Rome, and Berlin.  I’ve been to all the European cities and live in New York, which is the best city in the world to begin a thriller because it is the world in a microcosm.  In NYC, dark events can occur—often without so much as a sideways glance from passersby.  The inspirational lure of labyrinthine canals and alleyways in Venice have long offered writers endless enchantment and opportunity for wrathful violence.  Elsewhere in Italy, anyone lucky enough to visit the Colosseum knows it can be a perfect place for a cat-and-mouse shootout.  As for Berlin, I was there when the idea for this story was percolating.  It subsequently emerged as the locale for the final action scene because I saw it as the booming industrial metropolis of a unified Europe. 


Ah, but then there is Israel, a place I’ve yet to visit.  It’s where the mysterious Biblical document is unearthed.  Sending my story into that nation required a goodly amount of research, studying photos, and lots of Google mapping to get a feel for the landscape where my protag is sent to investigate the origins triggering global madness, and where he attempts to evade pursuers.  At a recent promotional event, a reader commented: “I can’t believe you’ve never been to Israel because you write about it as though you have.”  It was a wonderful compliment confirming that the internal eye, combined with diligent research really can get the job done.    


Where to visit next?  That’s the mystery that awaits all writers.  But there’s no mystery as to how to get there—it’s done with either the mind or shoe leather. 




About Gray Basnight: After almost three decades in broadcast news writing fact-based stories, Gray Basnight now writes fictional ones. Originally from Richmond, Virginia, he’s lived in New York long enough to consider himself a native. His latest book, Madness of the Q (Down & Out, December 2020), brings back math professor Sam Teagarden in an international thriller sparked by the discovery of an encoded ancient Biblical document. Gray is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Thrillerfest. He can be reached at, on Facebook, Twitter and GoodReads.

About Madness of the Q: In Madness of the Q by Gray Basnight, an ancient biblical parchment is unearthed during an archeological dig in Israel, setting into motion fanatical religious turmoil across the globe. It’s a roller-coaster page-turner with a theme ripped from the headlines — and ripped from theological history.  

When news of the Q Document’s discovery leaks, Jonestown-style suicides erupt among two fervent groups who alternately fear or cheer that it may repudiate the foundations of Christianity.  To quell the mass frenzy, the U.S. government secretly drafts world-renowned decryption expert Professor Sam Teagarden to determine the document’s authenticity and sends him overseas with protection from agents with the FBI and CIA.

During his effort to decode the Q Document, Teagarden’s life is threatened by competing parties – and a former Mossad agent hired by the Vatican.  Worse yet, FBI and CIA protection falls apart, leaving him alone and on a mad chase from New York to Israel, Rome and Berlin, trying to outsmart those who want to silence him. 

The premise of this new thriller was inspired by two experiences: 1) an audio lecture on the theory about a missing source for the books of Matthew and Luke, first postulated by a 19th Century German scholar, and named The Quelle (German for the word “source”); and 2) having written far too many news stories about faith-based bloodshed during Gray’s years in broadcast news.

Author Thomas Perry says: “Madness of the Q is a wild and breathless pursuit with Sam Teagarden on the run, desperate to connect with the right people and evade the wrong ones from New York to Israel to Italy to Germany in a non-stop plot that reminds us of Dan Brown, Ludlum, Fleming, and maybe even a bit of Umberto Eco.” — author of The Butcher’s Boy, The Burglar, A Small Town.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Eureka Television Series: A Review by Warren Bull

Image from Wikipedia

                                               Eureka Television Series: A Review by Warren Bull


Thursday, January 28, 2021

I Want To Know Everything by Connie Berry


I love information. It’s the only reason I would ever join an organized tour while on vacation.

My husband and I were married three months before he was scheduled to report for duty in the Air Force. Rather than doing something sensible like getting temporary jobs and saving money, we pooled every cent we had and headed for Europe. In the interest of full disclosure, my contribution to “everything we had” was two hundred dollars I’d received when my Irish grandfather died; my husband supplied the rest—literally every penny he’d ever earned, starting with his paper route when he was eleven. Yes, he’s a saver. 

The reason I mention it is because we were on a strict budget. To make our money last for three months, we could spend only so much a day. That meant when we got to Pompeii, a dream-come-true for this ancient history lover, we couldn’t afford the tour. Instead we wandered around on our own, wondering what we were looking at. He still owes me a trip back to Pompeii—this time with a tour. 

As a writer, my love of information is a blessing and a curse. Research is a joy for me. In my current WIP, I got to research bee venom, Early Netherlandish painting, Victorian lunatic asylums (yes, that’s what they were called then), British holidays camps of the 1950s, and Steamship Moderne architecture, a form of Art Deco (picture several of the “modern” houses in the Hercule Poirot television series). 

Unfortunately, I don’t always end up where I intended to go. I get distracted by information. Last week I was supposed to be researching the Gypsy fairs in rural England (another element in my WIP). But I soon found myself reading about San Francisco’s hidden cisterns, Queen Elizabeth the First’s real cause of death, and the Cave of the Swimmers in the desert region of southwest Egypt, so named because of the petroglyphs which appear to show people swimming. Cool!

I clearly need more discipline. 

Does anyone else fall into the black hole of research? I’ll meet you there—we can share information.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

An Interview with Cynthia Kuhn by E. B. Davis

This is a previously published interview. My apologies to Jackie Layton, who I was supposed to interview today.  E. B. Davis

Refusing to reply is the higher education equivalent to sticking
one’s tongue out at an enemy on the schoolyard.
Cynthia Kuhn, The Spirit in Question, Kindle Loc. 2484

English professor Lila Maclean knew drama would be involved when she agreed to consult on Stonedale University’s production of Puzzled: The Musical. But she didn’t expect to find herself cast into such chaos: the incomprehensible play is a disaster, the crumbling theater appears to be haunted, and, before long, murder takes center stage.

The show must go on—yet as they speed toward opening night, it becomes clear that other
members of the company may be targeted as well. Lila searches for answers while contending with a tenacious historical society, an eccentric playwright, an unsettling psychic, an enigmatic apparition, and a paranormal search squad. With all of this in play, will she be able to identify who killed her colleague…or will it soon be curtains for Lila too?

The Spirit in Question is the third book in the Lila Maclean mystery series by award-winning author Cynthia Kuhn. (Follow the links to my first and second interview with Cynthia.) Lila, the main character is an English Professor trying to attain tenure. In the first book of the series, Lila is spanking new and unsure of herself. In The Spirit in Question, Lila is more assertive, less fearful, and has found her worth. 

I’m glad to see this change because I hate meeting people and characters at their worst. It’s like the meet and greet of a freshman mixer—everyone is new and the unknown overwhelms. Although I liked Lila from the start, I now can see more of her strengths and embrace her like an old friend rather than a scared newbie.

Another aspect of this series that I enjoy—Lila’s internal thoughts. She smart. She doesn’t always say what she thinks. But from the privilege of the reader’s perspective, I loved reading her mind.

Please welcome Cynthia Kuhn back to WWK.                                                                           E. B. Davis

Thank you very much for having me back to WWK! I’m delighted to have a chance to visit with you all. And I so appreciate your comments on Lila and the series, too.

Is Stonedale University based on a real one?

Lila is helping to direct a play written by professor Tolliver Ingersoll. Much of the book is set in the Stonedale Opera House, built in 1878, where the play will be produced. Your description interested me, especially the candle boxes set into the floor. I never thought of how productions were lit before electricity. Was lighting the stage by candlelight common? How did the actors navigate the stage with candles staged in the floor?
Indoor plays were performed by candlelight and oil lamps early on, but theaters were typically using gas lighting in the latter 19th century. However, for Stonedale Opera House, I put candle boxes along the front of the stage—in the footlight area—to add a Gothic touch. The electrical system has been there for a long time when Lila arrives, but I wanted to preserve a sense of the theater’s quirky flavor.

“The local small theaters were more excited about his [Tolliver Ingersoll] writing,
as they were made up of younger folks who found his incomprehensible
plotlines to be great fun.” (Kindle Loc. 105)

Are youngsters just zany or do we learn to appreciate logic as we age?
Well, there is something to be said about experience leading to wisdom, so hooray for that! This quote is meant to suggest that current educational trends may encourage the more recent graduates to embrace nontraditional modes of storytelling.

What is a ghost light, and why is it left burning at center stage? Do all theaters do this?
It’s a theatrical tradition with two explanations. The first reason to leave a bulb burning center stage is for safety. The second is that it’s a necessary offering for ghosts, so they don’t curse the production. I don’t know if everyone does it, but if I owned a theater, I would. For both reasons. Just in case.

Lila’s suggestions are ignored by director Jean Claude, and he seems to do nothing but vent his frustrations on her. It’s understandable that Lila is upset when he is murdered, but when she describes him as a lost friend I was surprised. Wasn’t he her boss in the production, not a friend?
They are friends. She thinks he is kind (if bossy) and even lists some of his good qualities at one point. But when he’s in work mode, he is intense—it’s true.

When Jean Claude proclaims Lila’s beloved Stonedale gargoyles not to be in the same league as Notre Dame’s, does she consider him a snob?
Ha ha! No, she understands where he’s coming from.

When Lila and Jean Claude go to the chancellor to discuss the disruption by the historical society’s protest of their production, his assistant tries to prevent the meeting. But Lila actually leans in and gets in her face. What has changed in Lila?
She’s not a newbie anymore. Her professional experiences have given her a bit more confidence. And in this case, she is not about to be brushed off by the gatekeeper.

In the academic world, is being a university chancellor the equivalent of being a rock star?
Perhaps! It’s certainly a position of power. Other people often treated as rock stars, at least in the humanities, seem to be those whose books, performances, or theories make a big splash in scholarly circles and even go beyond the borders of academia. In Spirit, Francisco has become that kind of scholar; his book on Damon Von Tussel (which he was writing in The Art of Vanishing) has gone mainstream. Yay, Fran! :)

At a party, fondue is featured. Fondue was popular in the 1970s. Is it making a comeback?
In Stonedale, it is.

Zandra Delacroix, companion to playwright Tolliver Ingersoll, was a theater professor who did not get tenure and now considers herself a psychic. Why does she claim not obtaining tenure helped her psychic abilities?
Leaving academia freed her to focus on other things. Also, being a professor can demand the majority—if not all—of your energy and time. Once she was able to move out of her primarily analytical mindset, her intuitive gifts had more space to flourish.

Why does Tolliver call Lila “petal?”
She was wearing a daisy pendant the first time they met, and it became a term of endearment.

What are memes, and how are they used for publicity?
The students in the book are pairing images with humorous captions or twists on popular sayings that can be circulated on social media to draw attention to the production.

Lila knows nothing of the opera house ghost. When she learns of the story behind the ghost, she doesn’t totally discount it. Has she had encounters with psychic phenomena before?
It’s implied that she has...and while she isn’t aware of having met any prior ghosts, she tells us that “no one can grow up the daughter of artist Violet O and not have an open mind.”

Clara Worthingham and her husband, Braxton, head up the historical society, which doesn’t want the play to be held in the opera house. They are very different in their manner with people. Do they play bad cop/good cop when dealing with adversaries?
It’s a natural result of their personalities. They could not be more opposite.

Even though the Worthinghams are loathsome, they adopted an abandoned baby left on their doorstep by the opera house’s former owner, who committed suicide there. Were they altruistic or did they have more sinister motives?
I’d like to believe that they were altruistic...

Bella, the adopted baby who is now grown up, and Lila don’t know the identity of their fathers. Does this give them a bond or is there more that Lila senses in Bella?
It gives them a bond more quickly than they would have had otherwise.

Detective Lexington Archer investigates the murder. Lila and he dated briefly, but then both became immersed in their work. Will they be more successful in dating this time?
It depends on what you mean by successful...

Concerning romance, Lila describes herself as a “spill-my-drink-on-him and blurt-out-absurdities kind of girl.” I think she doesn’t give herself enough credit. Would Lex agree with her or me?
Lex would probably agree with you, but will secretly never forget the mug of hot coffee at the café that time.

When something unfortunate happens to someone the effect is compounded by people distancing themselves from that person. Is it superstition or are they at a loss as to what to say and do?
Good question! I very much admire the people who go in anyway and let someone know that they’re not alone, even if it’s difficult to find the words.   

Cynthia Kuhn writes the Lila Maclean Academic Mystery series: The Semester of Our Discontent, an Agatha Award recipient for Best First Novel; The Art of Vanishing, a Lefty Award nominee for Best Humorous Mystery; and The Spirit in Question. Her work has also appeared in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Literary Mama, Copper Nickel, Prick of the Spindle, Mama PhD, and other publications. She is professor of English at Metropolitan State University of Denver and president of Sisters in Crime-Colorado. For more information, please visit

Twitter: @cynthiakuhn
Amazon Page:

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

You Gotta Have Friends by Martha Reed

I’ve repeatedly heard that writing is a lonely and solo profession because of the demanding nature of creative thought. Choosing the right words to string into a perfect sentence takes thoughtful and uninterrupted concentration. Building that sentence into full-bodied paragraphs to structure an 85,000 word novel involves thousands of focused hours and a hearty in-house supply of coffee or tea.

There’s a reason we whisper in libraries where other people are absorbing great thoughts and it has nothing to do with disturbing the books housed on the shelves. It’s about the way we activate our minds to think through and construct creative thoughts. I sometimes wonder about the monks working away in their scriptoriums. I’m sure their vows of silence certainly helped.

Distractions are the bane of my output. Once I’m in the flow and I get disturbed it’s almost impossible to pick up the threads of that broken creative thought and successfully knit it back together. Sure, I might get the original idea down on paper, but somehow the elegance of that thought evaporates under my questing fingers even as I strive to capture it. My readers may never know that the thought break occurred, but I still flinch whenever I re-read that recast sentence knowing that somehow something better was lost.

Some writers are better at this necessary self-isolation because they have naturally introverted personalities. These writers are happiest when left alone to explore their vision and build their brave new worlds. Introverts generally hate marketing and self-promotion side of the business although they admit it’s a necessary evil. Extroverted writers use self-discipline to block off specific hours of each day cut off from the distraction of family and friends to ensure they hit their daily word count. Both approaches are right. Writers know that we need to do whatever it takes to get our stories told.

The irony is that as soon as we’re done with one story we start doing it all over again!

It’s not all grimness and toil. One benefit of a writing life that I want to celebrate more is being part of an extraordinarily welcoming and inclusive community of like-minded souls especially after 2020, our isolation year. Despite rarely leaving my home, I still felt fully engaged between reading the daily ListServ digests, the burgeoning weekly Zoom meetings and the super informative podcasts and online conferences. Yes, I did miss seeing everyone face-to-face and meeting up for coffee, drinks or sharing a joke or a meal, but I believe that day will come. To cement my belief in the future, I’ve registered for the 2021 Bouchercon convention to be held in New Orleans, LA in August. Happy days! I can already imagine the noise level in the NOLA Hilton’s bar.

And one social media benefit are the pop-up reminders of previous fun get togethers. Eight years ago, the Pittsburgh chapter of Sisters in Crime produced its LUCKY CHARMS – 12 Crime Tales anthology. A photo of our launch event popped up on my Facebook page recently. I’m still warmed when I see all of those happy shining smiles.

With the new year, let’s take a moment to recognize the true and extraordinary gift of writerly fellowship, community, and friends. Here’s hoping for renewed focus and a joyous 2021!


Monday, January 25, 2021

WHY? by Nancy L. Eady

When I was in high school, I read a novel set shortly after the Spanish Conquest about seven people who died when a rope footbridge in the mountains of South America collapsed. When the seven people die in 1714, a local priest decides to investigate each of their lives, on the theory that he could perhaps find a thread linking their deaths together so he could understand God’s purpose behind the bridge collapse. The book is about the seven people, but at the end of it, when the priest concludes that he can’t find anything in common between the seven people and publishes his book, he is burned at the stake by the inquisition. The sentence describing it goes something like, “Father ____ was burned at the stake by the Inquisition, not understanding why.” I can’t remember the name of the book, but I have to assume since I was reading it for English and it has stuck in my mind for 40 years, it must be some kind of great literature.   

That book popped up in my memory on Saturday, when I learned that one person in Michigan had won the Mega Millions jackpot that I wanted to win. I especially wanted to win this time because my sisters and mother and I went in to buy tickets together, and it would have been a lot of fun to have all of us win at the same time. Even if we had taken the cash option instead of the annuity, all four families would have won more money than we could possibly spend.  

My husband and I had figured out the name of the charity we would establish with the bulk of the money, a possible place to move to (in Huntsville, to be close to my mother), what he and I would do with our time and our post-lottery travel plans, which involved a nice motor home and a trip through many different areas of the United States.   

The thing I would have enjoyed the most would have been finally being able to write full-time. Don’t get me wrong; I love my job, but I love writing more. So while I wish the person in Michigan all the best, I still can’t help thinking, along with Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, “Lord who made the Lion and the Lamb, You decreed I would be what I am. Would it spoil some vast eternal plan,” if I were a wealthy person? 

I also can’t help wondering, just as the priest in the book did, what thread connects the lives of the winners of big jackpots pre-drawing so that they win, and others don’t? At least I won’t get burned at the stake for whatever it is I conclude.  

So what are your dreams if you ever came into a windfall of immense proportions?   

P.S.  My learned colleagues here at WWK inform me that the book is The Bridge of San Luis Rey, written by Thornton Wilder, and in the book five people die on the bridge, not seven. 

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Organized Chaos by Annette Dashofy

I really need to clean my desk.

I’ve been asking my readers on Facebook to help me come up with a blog topic for today. No, cleaning my desk wasn’t one of them. I’ve made a list of the suggestions, all of which are great. But one was a topic I’ve already used recently. Several others will make excellent topics closer to the release of my next book, which isn’t until May. I can’t address current events for two reasons. One, we’re all sick of hearing about politics and COVID. And two, between the time I write this and the time you’re reading it, everything could change. Let’s face it, in the past couple of weeks, “current events” mean “in the last ten minutes.”

So I’m sitting here, staring into space, which as most writers know is legitimate work. We’re pleading with the muses to honor us with an idea. Any idea. Please!

Which is when my glassy-eyed gaze settled on my desk. Good lord. How did this mess happen?


I intended to clear it over the holidays. I need to file important papers. Create a folder to organize my workshop handouts. Compile notes from online seminars and classes. Seriously, I have about ten notebooks and legal pads piled around my office, all with half a dozen pages of notes on various topics from marketing to law enforcement to edits for my works in progress. If I need to print something out, I have to move an unstable mountain of paperwork from the top of the printer.


Let’s not forget last year’s receipts, all gathered for filling out tax forms. To be honest, that stuff is the only organized pile in the room, because nothing terrifies me more than the IRS.

I would list what’s on my desk, but I don’t have enough space in this blog for it all. And if you think I’m going to show you a complete “before” picture, nope. Not happening. If I’m successful between the “now” of me writing this and the “now” of you reading it, I will post an “after” picture though. (Edit: I was and I am!) 

Is your desk neat and organized? Or do you work in the midst of chaos? Or somewhere in between? What’s on your desk?