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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Monday, June 14, 2021

Savannah’s Other Cemetery

By Shari Randall

 


Ever since John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was published in 1986, many have fallen under the spell of hauntingly beautiful Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia. Readers embraced Berendt’s exploration of Savannah’s mysterious dark side and the book was made into a film directed by Clint Eastwood. The iconic cover image from the book and film was The Bird Girl statue by Sylvia Shaw Judson, which had graced the cemetery but was moved to the Telfair Museum when fans trampled the graves at Bonaventure to get a closer look and selfie. 

 

On a recent trip, I discovered that Savannah has other intriguing cemeteries and one can be found just steps from Chippewa Square. 

 


Colonial Park Cemetery lies in the heart of Savannah’s historic district. Those interested in history will enjoy a stroll among the luminaries of Savannah’s colonial past. Those who enjoy a good spooky story will revel in a ghost tour of what’s been called Savannah’s most haunted cemetery.


The cemetery was established in 1750 and was known by several other names over the years, including the Old Brick Cemetery, South Broad Street Cemetery, Christ Church Cemetery, and simply, the Old Cemetery. Luminaries abound in Colonial Park, including military heroes, US Continental Congressmen, and the marvelously named Button Gwinnett, Georgia’s signer of the Declaration of Independence, who was killed in a duel just outside the gates of the cemetery.

 

I’ve found that writers have an affinity for graveyards. Cemeteries are a supermarket of names, especially for writers of historical fiction. From inscriptions, one can learn so much about a time period, including which names were popular. If I ever need to name a character with Southern charm and a Savannah pedigree, these names gleaned from the stones at Colonial Park Cemetery might turn up on the page: Patridge Adams, Preserved Alger, Oliver Anguheart,  Mary Ann Victoire Armaignac, Valeria Josephine Burroughs, Philura Paine Spalding Claghorn, Missouri Douglas.

 

Besides being a trove of interesting names, cemeteries are full of stories. 

 

In Colonial Park, historic plaques and markers stand by headstones and cenotaphs, offering silent history lessons, inspiration, and more mysteries. Especially evocative is the Duellist’s Grave, a memorial to Lieutenant James Wilde, who died on January 16, 1815 in a duel with Captain Roswell P. Johnson. The cause of the dispute in this “affair of honor” is undisclosed, but the disdain of Lt. Wilde’s brother for Captain Johnson is clear. What caused these officers of the same regiment to meet and exchange four rounds of gunfire? Only the ghosts know.




 

Do you enjoy a good stroll in a cemetery? Or is it just me?


Shari Randall is the author of the Agatha Award-winning Lobster Shack mystery series from St. Martin's Press. You can see her travel photos and learn more about her books on her Facebook page, Shari Randall Author.

 

 

Sunday, June 13, 2021

SECRETS TO A “BIG FIVE” PUBLISHING DEAL by Korina Moss

 

 



Many writers who want to be traditionally published dream of a BIG contract with a BIG advance at a BIG house. The “Big Five,” as they’re known, include Macmillan, HarperCollins, Hachette, Penguin Random House, and Simon and Schuster. (This is soon to become the “Big Four” with Penguin Random House set to buy Simon and Schuster.) My three-book deal is with Macmillan, so let me share the secret to getting your own “Big Five” contract.

 

The secret is that there is no secret. Unfortunately, there’s also no checklist to follow and no guarantees. If you speak with fifty traditionally published authors, you will probably get fifty different stories of their path to publication. However, some portions of our stories overlap, from which you may glean some helpful insight. To that end, here’s my story.

 

I’d been working on my mystery book for a while (read: years) when I attended a cozy mystery authors chat/book signing at a local library. The authors were interesting and informative, and because they indulged my incessant questioning, I was able to revise my book with a better focus toward the genre. I also realized how important it was to connect with other mystery writers, especially ones who are where you aspire to be. By joining Sisters in Crime and finding authors on Facebook, I stepped a little further into the self-dubbed circle of knowledge.

 

My first lesson learned: The act of writing is a solitary endeavor, but being a writer is not. You need a community, and lucky for us, the mystery writing community is very encouraging and supportive. When I started writing back in the nineties (or the “olden days” as my teenager likes to call it), there was very little access to information about the publishing world. There were some books and magazines, but basically it was like being Dorothy in this strange land of Oz with the publishing business playing the role of the Wizard. It was a scary unknown entity which remained firmly behind the curtain.

 

Nowadays, the internet affords us blogs (like Writers Who Kill), podcasts, Facebook groups, agent twitter accounts, etc. which help us to pull back the curtain and see there’s nothing magical behind it—there are real people doing their own difficult jobs. Writing is creative, but publishing is a business. The more access we have to publishers, editors, agents, and published authors, the more we can understand what it takes to get published. I began to realize I had dozens of mentors at my fingertips. Getting published shifted from a dream to a goal.

 

When I was at a crossroads and had to decide between pursuing a writing career or taking a more assured path in another field, one of my newfound published author friends suggested I hire a freelance editor to read my manuscript. On the spectrum of rejection letters, I had gotten several “good” rejections, meaning agents asked to read the entire manuscript or even asked me to revise and resubmit, but ultimately still passed. I no longer could tell if my story was being improved by all my revisions. So I took my friend’s advice and hired a highly recommended editor. Hiring a good editor does not come cheap (nor should it for their expertise and the time they put into our manuscripts). This was an investment in myself. The developmental edit would reveal how close or how far I was to having a manuscript that an agent would say yes to. It would also be my deciding factor in whether attempting a writing career would be the risk I take or not.

 

The editor’s feedback was akin to taking a private master class in mystery writing. She also told me everything I did right and was extremely encouraging about my work. It was exactly what I needed to go forth with renewed energy and confidence. I worked hard to fix the issues in the manuscript that she’d pointed out and I confidently submitted it to three more agents. Much to my disappointment, it still came back with rejections. This time, however, I was confident in my work, so instead of tinkering with the manuscript again, I decided to take a different approach to how I would query agents. And that made all the difference.

 

In next month’s blog post, I’ll continue my path to publication story, and tell you about my success at pitching to agents and the whirlwind weeks that ensued.

 

Shout-outs go to members of “my community” mentioned in this post:

 

The freelance editor mentioned who is also an award-winning short story writer:

Barb Goffman http://www.barbgoffman.com/editing-services.html

 

The authors mentioned who were so helpful to me early on:

Liz Mugavero (who also writes as Cate Conte) https://cateconte.com/

Barbara Ross https://barbararossauthor.com/

Edith Maxwell (who also writes as Maddie Day) https://edithmaxwell.com/

Susannah Hardy (who also writes as Sadie Hartwell) https://sadiehartwell.com/

 

The library mentioned, which is one of my favorites:

Windsor Locks Public Library https://www.windsorlockslibrary.org/

 

Having a helping community isn’t writing specific. Is there any person or organization you’d like to give a shout-out to who has helped you reach your goals?


Saturday, June 12, 2021

My First (And Probably Only) BookTok by Jennifer J. Chow

I feel like I’m always a little behind on the social media train. Way back when I first learned about Twitter, I hesitated. How many people would really want to tweet? Guess I should’ve jumped on the bandwagon earlier.

 

Another social media I’m hesitant to try is TikTok. I have a hard time with the energetic pace of the moving images in the short videos. On the other hand, TikTok is very popular. As of May 2020, it had over two billion downloads and boasted over eight hundred million monthly active users. 

 

It also has a strong bookish community, BookTok. These people are highly authentic in their videos and do not filter out their emotions. In fact, TikTok users crying over books have led to huge sales for a few book titles.  

 

A lot of the focus in the BookTok community is on YA books. This makes sense because many users are either in their teens or are young adults. They’re definitely rising influencers, and now you can even find BookTok tables in some Barnes & Noble bookstores.

 

My audiobook narrator for my Sassy Cat Mystery series, Natalie Naudus, also joined TikTok recently. She’s a superstar there, at least by my standards. She’s got over 62,000 followers and 1.2 million likes. Natalie keeps everything real in her short videos and often gives enlightening behind-the-scenes insight into the business of recording books.

 

I got to dip my toe into TikTok by proxy last week. A writer acquaintance of mine offered to make me a BookTok video on her profile. All I had to do was send Stephanie images that tied to the themes in my book. I even got the chance to choose a background song for it. Fun!

 

My Mimi Lee Reads Between the Lines video has garnered 198 views, so nothing stellar. I definitely won’t be having a huge book sales spike from it. Although, truth be told, the books that took off on BookTok earlier were the same ones that had already sold really well when they were first published (think: We Were Liars).




At least I can now say that I have my first #BookTok video. However, it’ll also probably be the end of my adventure with TikTok.

 

What’s your opinion on TikTok or other new social media?



Thursday, June 10, 2021

Winspear's The Consequences of Fear

 


 

 

 

By Margaret S. Hamilton

 

From the 2003 publication of Jacqueline Winspear’s first Maisie Dobbs book, I’ve been a fan. At age thirteen, Maisie is an early twentieth century version of Sara Crewe, living and working in service in the London home of gentry. When Lady Rowan Compton recognizes Maisie’s intelligence, she arranges for private tutoring enabling Maisie to gain admission to Girton College, Cambridge.

 

Maisie is a field nurse during World War I, and then trains under her mentor as a psychologist and investigator. Winspear’s sixteen books take Maisie through the twenties, thirties, and early forties, when Maisie joins Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE), vetting British agents for

Resistance operations in France.

 

Winspear’s latest book, The Consequences of Fear, is set in 1941 London. Maisie’s life is fraught with fear—for her adopted daughter Anna and her parents, and her cobbled-together “family” of friends and colleagues, including her trusted assistant, Billy Beale; Robert MacFarlane, her SOE supervisor; and an old Scotland Yard colleague, DCS Caldwell.

 

As a young teen, Winspear’s father was recruited as a runner by the London Air Raid Precautions depots. Winspear gives her father’s job to twelve-year old Freddie Hackett, who delivers messages during early evening bomb raids. Freddie witnesses a murder in an area destroyed by bombs:

 

“…he saw two men ahead, illuminated by a Bomber’s Moon and falling incendiaries. He didn’t like what he saw—there was shouting, and then the men were struggling, hanging onto each other, fighting, and he didn’t want to run into trouble. This blimmin’ bombing was trouble enough.” (p.4)

 

Freddie seeks help from Maisie Dobbs:

 

“And as he ran, his legs pumping like pistons in the bowels of a ship, Freddie Hackett knew that he had to tell someone about what he’d seen, because he was sure it wasn’t his imagination. He couldn’t keep this to himself. He had to do the right thing, like his old grandad used to tell him….” (p.10)

 

Maisie’s efforts to help Freddie and his family are complicated by politics of the SOE and Free French forces in London. She enlists the aid of a retired intelligence officer who provides vital information about the actions of French army soldiers in Syria following World War I. With the help of her assistant, Billy, and the police, Maisie unravels a murder caused by these Syrian events.

 

 

Maisie lives with fear and its consequences:

 

“Taking a seat on a bench, Maisie closed her eyes, feeling another weight—that of doubt settling inside her as it prepared to take up residence, ready to sap her energy, slow her mental reflexes and bring down her defenses against that most powerful of emotions…Fear, she thought, had a viscous quality to it, to the extent that you could even feel it in your feet as you were running to the shelter; a burden slowing you down, despite the fact that you were moving as fast as your legs could carry you. Fear was sticky, like flypaper, something to steer clear of as you went about your business, because if you were sucked into that long banner of worry, you would be like an insect with wings adhered and feet stuck, never to escape. Fear was the scariest of emotions and it nestled there, growing ever stronger and sprouting shoots, a seed in the fertile soil of doubt.” (p.165)

 

Though Maisie travels to Scotland and to her home in the Kentish countryside, and risks confrontations with both a vicious drunkard and a man she suspects is a murderer, this is a contemplative book, set in London the months before America enters the war. Maisie’s SOE job is evaluating candidates as intelligence agents in France, sending many of them to certain deaths. London and many other industrial cities and ports still suffer frequent bombing, food shortages have started, children who have been evacuated are returning to half-empty city schools.

 

The book ends in early December, when Maisie’s American lover assures her, “You aren’t holding the fort alone any more. You’ve got company coming—at last.” (p.336)

 

I can’t wait to read Winspear’s next book, probably set in 1942 England. What will Maisie do next?

 

Readers and writers, have you read Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs books?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

An Interview with Connie Berry By E. B. Davis

I attempted a laugh. “I’m fine. Absolutely fine.” My standard response to everything from a hangnail to childbirth. I’m sure those words will be carved one day on my gravestone.

Connie Berry, The Art of Betrayal, Kindle Loc. 1070

 

In Connie Berry's third Kate Hamilton mystery, American antique dealer Kate Hamilton's spring is cut short when a body turns up at the May Fair pageant.

Spring is a magical time in England--bluebells massing along the woodland paths, primrose and wild thyme dotting the meadows. Antiques dealer Kate Hamilton is spending the month of May in the Suffolk village of Long Barston, enjoying precious time with Detective Inspector Tom Mallory. While attending the May Fair, the annual pageant based on a well-known Anglo-Saxon folktale, a body turns up in the middle of the festivities.

Kate is even more shocked when she learns the murder took place in antiquity shop owner Ivor Tweedy's stockroom and a valuable Chinese pottery jar that she had been tasked with finding a buyer for has been stolen. Ivor may be ruined. Insurance won't cover a fraction of the loss.

As Tom leads the investigation, Kate begins to see puzzling parallels between the murder and local legends. The more she learns, the more convinced she is that the solution to both crimes lies in the misty depths of Anglo-Saxon history and a generations-old pattern of betrayal. It's up to Kate to unravel this Celtic knot of lies and deception to save Ivor's business.

Amazon.com

 

It’s no wonder Connie Berry was nominated for an Agatha Award for her first book in the Kate Hamilton mystery series, A Dream of Death. Connie is a talented descriptive writer. No matter where she placed a scene in The Art of Betrayal, the third book, I could envision the shop, cottage, manor, auction house, and even while on the road. It’s that type of writing that takes readers outside of themselves and into the story on the page.

 

Main character Kate Hamilton is an interesting character. I’m disappointed that I started this series on the third book. The answers to some of my questions are bound to be in the first two of the series, but I have many more questions about The Art of Betrayal, which was released yesterday.

                                              ____                                               E. B. Davis


Were you an art history major?

 

I was not. My field was English literature and history. But I did take a fascinating and comprehensive art history class during my junior semester abroad, viewing the art and architecture in person—from the Bronze Age to the early Greeks and Romans to medieval art and the Renaissance, all the way to the Art Deco period of the nineteen twenties and thirties. Kate is interested in fine art because of her work as an antiques dealer and appraiser. Like her, my parents dealt in fine antiques and paintings.

 

Why is Ivor’s shop called The Cabinet of Curiosities? It’s an antiquities shop. Curiosities reminds me of something very different, like wax lips or sock puppets.

 

You’re right—probably because we think of Charles Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop.

However, the name of Ivor’s shop is taken from the Kunstkammer, or “Cabinets of Curiosities” popular in the Renaissance—like the fabulous Grünes Gewölbe in Dresden. Cabinets of Curiosities were collections of rare and historically important or unusual objects. These collections included objects belonging to natural history (sometimes faked), geology, ethnography, archaeology, religious or historical relics, works of art, and antiquities. In England, the best-known example is The Ashmolean Museum, which houses the collection of Elias Ashmole, a wealthy 17th-century collector with a deep interest in astronomy, astrology, and alchemy. He bequeathed his collection to Oxford University on condition that they build a place to house them.

During Ivor Tweedy’s legendary stint with Her Majesty’s Merchant Marine, he began collecting fine and rare objects from around the world.

 

I looked up BCE and CE with unsatisfactory results. What do the Chinese consider “Common Era?” How does it compare with our BC/AD designations?

 

The history of calendars is complicated. Each culture has had its own way of designating time. In ancient China, years were numbered from a new emperor's assumption of the throne or an existing emperor's announcement of a new era name. This system remained in place until about 1912, when China joined other nations in reckoning years based on “year one.”

The traditional abbreviations BC and AD are short for “Before Christ” and “Anno Domini,” Latin for year of the Lord. CE for “Common Era” and BCE for “Before the Common Era” are used in exactly the same way. Although both systems are acceptable, because BC and AD hold religious connotations, many prefer to use the more neutral CE and BCE. My publisher uses BCE and CE.

 

“Just because something can’t be explained doesn’t mean it’s supernatural.” Kindle Loc. 241

“Somehow the húnpíng [funeral urn] had acted as a portal—capturing,

then magnifying my unconscious thoughts.” Kindle Loc. 1430

 

The above quotes are Kate’s observations about her gift. What is her gift? Would she consider a sixth
sense supernatural? The latter quote seems to be high rationalization to me (and really, if she believes in portals….).

 

Kate has never been able to adequately explain her gift (curse?), even to herself. Here’s the way she describes it in A Dream of Death:

 

I don't want to give the wrong impression. I'm not a psychic. I have no paranormal powers. I don't actually believe in such things. Nevertheless, I admit to having experienced something similar before. Nothing as definite as a word, mind you—just an impression, of joy or sadness or longing, as if the emotional atmosphere in which an object existed had seeped into the joints and crevices along with the dust and grime.

 

Kate doesn’t believe in portals. She uses that as a metaphor here because she has just received on consignment a pottery húnpíng jar dating from the Han dynasty (202 BCE to 220 CE). None of the húnpíng jars known to exist ever held physical remains. Instead, scholars believe, they were intended to attract the life energy of the deceased, acting as a sort of portal through which the departed soul could enter paradise. A belief, not a fact.

 

Is there a reason Kate’s daughter, Christine, has lousy taste in men?

 

Kate’s theory has to do with the sudden, unexpected death of her husband (Christine’s father) when Christine was in high school. Having lost her own father in an auto accident on Christmas Eve when she was 17, Kate understands how deep grief and loss can go. She theorizes that by choosing unreliable men, Christine is acting out the sense of abandonment she felt. Psychologists say people do act out unresolved emotional issues, sometimes in destructive ways. Women who grew up with abusive fathers, for example, are way more likely to date and/or marry abusive men.

 

Aren’t thatched roofs creepy with the bugs slithering around in them?

 

You’re right! All kinds of critters live in the thatch, and they attract birds who try to scratch them out. That’s one of the problems with thatch. You have to clean and maintain it.

Hundreds of years ago, most thatched roofs were visible from inside. I’ve read about pieces of thatch and insects falling down into the house. Even today, some people like to maintain the natural thatch look inside, but most thatched houses in England have plaster ceilings. We’ve stayed in them. So while you can hear critters moving around in the thatch, none of it falls on your head.

 

“…Fergus, who gazed at the assembled company

with benign condescension.

Fergus considered mixing with humans a privilege. For them.”

Kindle Loc. 1172

 

I love Fergus, the Pug. He’s urbane, astute, and snide (oh, maybe that’s Kate—nah if she senses all that stuff from antiques, she has to really know Fergus’s thoughts and attitudes). Maybe he’s just a grumpy old man. Tell our readers about him, please.

 

Fergus the Pug has a special place in my heart. Humor takes many forms. One of my favorites (perfected by the British) is endowing animals and inanimate objects with human emotions and motives. Here’s an example—a line from my Outtakes file, waiting patiently for a place in one of my books:

Spring was cold that year. None of the perennials dared poke their heads above the soil—except the gullible daffodils. They never learn.

Fergus isn’t exactly a grumpy old man, but he definitely thinks highly of himself—a belief nurtured by his adoring human mum, Vivian Bunn. Fergus expects to go with Mummy everywhere and feels quite put out when he is left home. He is selective about the humans he meets and is known to be a discerning judge of character. He likes Kate because she once saved him from drowning when he took off after a flock of ducks in Blackwater Lake—an embarrassing incident for him. Pugs are not natural swimmers. Fergus is getting up there in age and (thanks to Vivian) has a few extra pounds on him, so he spends a lot of time curled up in his bed by the hearth. He knows when humans are sad or suffering and toddles over to allow them a little petting time.

 

After age thirty, living with your mother/parents can’t be elective. Why does Tom’s mother live with him?

 

Tom’s wife, Sarah, died of cancer when their daughter, Olivia, was twelve. As a detective inspector, Tom’s hours were never regular. In fact, as the police force in the UK is literally “Her Majesty’s Police Force,” they are technically always on duty. The solution was for Tom’s mother to move in. Olivia needed her. Now that Olivia is on her own, the relationship between Tom and his mother, Liz, is becoming difficult. For reasons that will be explained in the next book (The Shadow of Memory, 2022), Liz can’t afford to buy her own house. Tom feels obligated to care for her.

 

What are Nobbly Bobblys?

 

A Nobbly Bobbly is an ice lolly—for Americans, an ice cream treat on a stick—layers of strawberry and chocolate ice cream covered in a chocolate coating with candy sprinkles. They’ve been around forever. Nestle makes them today.

 

Has Kate’s mother Linnea Larson lived in England? She uses English slang sometimes in her speech, like “tip-top.”

 

Does Kate’s mom, Linnea, use that phrase in the book? I don’t remember. Linnea is an American of Norwegian descent. Her slang is sometimes old-fashioned but not particularly British. I remember my Danish grandmother using the phrase “I’m tip-top” to mean “I’m very well.” Kate, though, having been previously married to a Scot and now having spent a lot of time in England is beginning to use some British slang.

 

Are Domesday Books common enough to be auctioned? I’d have thought most copies would be scarce and scooped up by museums and libraries? Wouldn’t they be considered national treasures?

 

There is only one Domesday Book—actually two separate books (The Great Domesday Book and the Little Domesday Book) both written in Latin. Since about 1600 they have been kept in a wooden chest, cased, lined, bound in iron and secured by three different locks. The Domesday Book is now housed in The National Archives at Kew. What Ivor auctioned off was a (fictional) translation in English of part of the Little Domesday Book. Translations, some very old, exist in museums and private collections. I don’t know how many. More research needed!

 

With people Kate likes and respects, she uses discretion. Why didn’t she refrain from telling off Tom’s mother?

 

Kate has limits. And Liz Mallory pushes those limits all the time. Liz doesn’t like Kate, probably because she fears Kate will lure Tom to the States. She would rather see him stay single—or marry a nice English girl she can manage. While Kate is kind, she isn’t a doormat.


Why is Kate not trusted to go clothes shopping on her own? What would she buy if she had her druthers?

 

Kate is far from a fashionista. She doesn’t worry much about clothes and would rather wear jeans and a t-shirt or pullover sweater for most events. Her best friend, Charlotte, was a window dresser for an upscale clothing store in Chicago and has a marvelous fashion sense. Kate used to joke that Charlotte was her personal “What Not To Wear” consultant. When Kate needs something special, Charlotte is usually the one who chooses the outfit, which Kate appreciates. She does care how she looks, especially now that DI Tom Mallory is in the picture.

 

Is a Raspberry Martini in England made with lemon vodka? I was surprised that it wasn’t made with raspberry vodka.

 

There are lots of recipes for Raspberry Martinis, all different. My recipe calls for intense raspberry ice floating in lemon vodka. Another uses plain vodka with cranberry juice for color, lime zest, and 2 teaspoons of raspberry jam. I think raspberry vodka would make a great martini!

 

Aren’t citizens of Ireland required to have a passport to get into England?

 

In The Art of Betrayal, there is a character from Belfast, Northern Ireland. As part of the UK, there is no boundary between Northern Ireland and England. And even under Brexit, the Republic of Ireland is part of the Common Travel Area—a travel zone between the Republic of Ireland and the UK, Isle of Man and Channel Islands. Irish nationals have a special status in UK law which is separate from and pre-dates the rights they have as EU citizens. 

 

Not only does Kate perceive that a man is a predator, but she also isn’t so young as to think he is interested in her as a woman. Is getting over yourself the reason why older women make the best sleuths?

 

Now that is an interesting question, Elaine. As we get older, women do lose some of the naivete we had as teens and young women, don’t we? We aren’t so gullible as to believe that male motives are always pure and uncomplicated by self-interest. When I wrote this predatory male character, I was thinking of a man I knew once (he shall remain nameless) who was exceptionally tall and exceedingly good-looking—so good-looking, in fact, that he was used to women falling all over him. Even older women. I can’t really blame him. That was his experience in life, and he naturally expected every woman to react to him in the same way. When I met him, I was in my early thirties, and I determined that I would not acknowledge his looks in any way. That really baffled him. As an amateur sleuth, Kate uses her brain, not her looks, to learn the truth.

 

What’s next for Kate?

 

As I mentioned above, Kate’s next adventure, The Shadow of Memory, will be released in June of 2022.

It’s late summer in the Suffolk village of Long Barston. American antiques dealer Kate Hamilton, is helping antiquities dealer Ivor Tweedy appraise a fifteenth-century painting attributed to Jan Van Eyck.

While cutting through the church graveyard, Kate stumbles upon the body of an elderly man—Will Parker, a retired ex-CID officer. Kate is even more shocked when her friend Vivian Bunn reveals that Will Parker was her first boyfriend. They’d met at a seaside holiday camp in 1963, when they and three other teens explored an abandoned house, the scene of a violent crime—or so they imagined. Vivian and Will haven’t seen each other in fifty-eight years.

At first Will’s death is considered natural. He is in his seventies, after all. But when a second member of the childhood gang also dies unexpectedly, and then a third, Kate begins to suspect the five teens discovered more in that abandoned house than they realized. Can she convince the police they’ve got a serial killer on their hands before Vivian becomes the next victim?

I just turned in the manuscript to my editor at Crooked Lane. Now I have decisions to make. Will I begin sketching out Book Five in the series, or will I begin something entirely new? Or both? Time will tell.

Thank you so much for inviting me on Writers Who Kill and for asking such interesting, thoughtful questions.

 

 

Emmie working hard with Connie


Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Answering the Call by K.M. Rockwood

Short stories are a favorite of mine. I love to read them, and I love to write them.

Sometimes a story jumps out at me from apparently nowhere, and I sit down at the computer to dash it off, often feverishly, as it plays in my mind. Then I need to find it a home.


More frequently, though, my stories are inspired by a submission call from a themed anthology or periodical.


My first paying short story (not that it paid much) was “The Bridge,” written for and accepted by the periodical Thema in an issue featuring unanticipated events.

I was hooked.


Most anthologies and periodicals issuing calls for themed short stories pay very little, if anything. That’s not because they don’t want to, or are trying to take advantage of authors, but because they can’t afford to. These aren’t great money-makers. When I submit a story, it’s for the same reason the publisher and the editor is doing this—a labor of love. And the possibility of achieving the thrill of seeing my work presented to a larger audience.


Submission calls can be fairly general or very specific in their requirements. It should go without saying that the instructions should be carefully followed, but some people don’t realize the guidelines apply to them, too.


We have all met occasional would-be authors who are sure their writing is so brilliant that it rises above conventions and will be accepted regardless of whether it meets the criteria or not. While sometimes a norm-breaking author does achieve fame and success, that’s unlikely to be the case here. The initial screener probably won’t see beyond the failure to follow the guidelines, and no one may even bother to read the submission.


In some cases, submission is open only to a specific membership and is intended to showcase the work of these authors. Sometimes the criteria otherwise limits who can submit, which is spelled out in the guidelines. If the call is seeking only works by Canadian women, anyone else will be wasting not only the editor’s time, but also their own, if they write and submit a story. The limitations on the authors can be geographical, within a certain age range, or by other characteristics. I’ve seen an announcement that calls for only those with neurodiversity.


The criteria for thematic consideration can be broad or narrow. I recently submitted a story that called for a first-person POV of someone sentenced to execution for crimes. Other times it’s fairly broad—animals, holidays, foods.


An editor is probably seeking a variety of stories within the defined category, so submitting an entry with an unusual twist on the theme is more likely to get a nod. If the theme is animals, there will be plenty of dog stories, and several may be chosen. But a story about a platypus or a lemur could be unique. When one anthology called for stories about conventions, I successfully offered one where the protagonist was a housekeeper in the convention hotel.


Length is crucial. The editor already has in mind an approximate length and a target number of stories. Some want flash fiction. Others will consider stories that approach novella status. The word count is spelled out in the guidelines.


Where do I find submission calls? The most frequent source is The Short Mystery Fiction Society Blog, where dedicated volunteers maintain market lists, including one for anthologies which have issued a submission call. I am also a dues-paying member of several writers’ organizations, like SinC’s Guppies, that periodically organize an anthology. And several conferences, like Bouchercon, Malice Domestic and Crime Bake, often publish anthologies.


My story “Dead on the Beach,” in which a mourning sister seeks the truth about her brother’s death on a Cape Cod Beach on a cold winter’s night, is included in Judy Penz Sheluk’s anthology Moonlight and Misadventure which will be released on June 18. 


The next Chesapeake Crimes anthology, which has a Magic theme, will have “Pyewackett,” the tale of a witch’s familiar who takes the form of a cat looking for a new mistress. When he finds her, he devotes himself to helping her sort out her love life.


Writing and submitting to themed anthologies and periodicals may not be lucrative, but it’s a fun way to work on the craft of writing, and rewarding to see a story in print.


Read “The Bridge” free at: https://kmrockwood.com/thebridge.php


More information and preorders for Moonlight and Misadventure: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B094DT4366

 

Monday, June 7, 2021

First Steps toward Publishing Your Novel

by Linda Rodriguez

I receive a number of emails from people who ask me how to get their own novels published. Usually, they know just about nothing of the business of publishing, which surprises me. If you took a year or so to write a book that you hoped to publish and sell, wouldn’t you owe it to yourself to research and learn something about the business of publishing that you hope to join?

I always try to answer with a detailed listing of things they can do to educate themselves about the business and to begin to connect with the professional literary community. I have a feeling that I have friends and followers out there in the same situation who might be reluctant to ask, so I’ve decided to write this blog post. Here’s my resource guide to publishing a novel. It won’t get you published, but it will give you a good foundation in the business of publishing/being a professional novelist and get you started in the right direction.

Pitching a novel to a major publisher today can be very difficult without an agent. Most of the New York trade publishers won’t look at novels unless they’re represented by an agent. Smaller specialized presses, literary presses, and university presses will take unagented queries during their open submissions period, if they have one. Often they can be the best bet for a first novel that’s not necessarily a commercial novel. Poets & Writers has a database of small, literary, and university presses.


Many of these won’t do novels, so you’ll have to sort through them. Here’s a list of 16 small presses that do novels.


You can also do an internet search for small presses that specialize in your particular genre of novel, if you write in one of the genres.

For agents, I would suggest that you check the website of the Association of Author’s Representatives.


This is the professional association of reputable agents. It’s very easy to get involved with folks who call themselves agents and are really running scams to part authors from their money. Members of AAR have sworn not to do this stuff and are kicked out if they do, so you can trust them. Another good site to educate yourself and protect yourself from scammers is Writer Beware.


This is a site provided by the SFWA and co-sponsored by MWA as a service for all authors, science fiction, mystery, or not.

But the first thing you want to do is to get current copies of Poets & Writers, Writer’s Digest, and The Writer magazines. (The Writer was purchased by another company, but for over a century, they were a helpful magazine for writers, and I suspect they will continue to be.) These magazines often talk about which publishers are looking for what kinds of books at the moment. P&W focuses more on the academic and literary writer, while WD focuses more on the commercial or freelance writer and TW straddles both fields. If your library has them, also read back issues of Poets & Writers, The Writer, and Writer's Digest. You’ll learn a lot about the business that way.

Look for professional authors groups to join. There are groups for children’s writers, mystery writers, romance writers, sf/fantasy writers, etc. These groups are usually tremendously helpful in learning the publishing business and making useful contacts. If there is a chapter of a professional writer’s organization near you and it’s not your kind of writing, it can still be useful to you in learning the business. I once belonged to the local chapter of Romance Writers of America, though I didn’t write romance. I learned about agents, what editors want, what is and is not acceptable behavior in the publishing world, what are and are not good contracts, and tons of other things that became useful to me. Now, we have a chapter of Sisters in Crime here, and I’m active in it, but that time in RWA laid a very good foundation for me. The same goes for SFWA or any of the others. The purposes of these organizations are to help their members with the business of publishing and being a professional—and that’s very similar across the boards.

A book I always recommend to students and aspiring writers is Carolyn See’s Making a Literary Life. I’ve written about this book on this blog before.


It’s the best book for looking at how to be a professional writer and work on getting published, how to get established within the literary community, how to make a career as a writer without living in NYC, and much else.

If I were you, friend with a book manuscript under your arm, I’d start with these resources. I’d also go to every writer’s appearance/reading/event that occurs in your town if it’s a small one or a good selection if you live in a big city with an active literary community. Go to regional or national conferences in your genre—AWP for literary writers, Malice Domestic or Bouchercon for mystery writers, Worldcon or a variety of other “cons” for science fiction and fantasy writers, etc.

Buy a book, if you can. Introduce yourself to the writer. Follow up with emails or mailed notes talking about what you liked about their reading or book—not asking for help with your own. Friend writers you meet on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter. Don’t spam them about your own book. What you’re doing is building relationships within the community of writers. These are the folks who can answer questions for you or later (if you’ve built a good, real relationship) give blurbs that will help your book sell when it's published. Basically, my advice is to educate yourself about publishing and become a contributing member of the community. Getting a novel published is a long, hard haul, so arm yourself with information and allies.

The best single piece of advice I could give, however, is this—make sure you write a good novel. Get competent professional feedback and revise, revise, revise until it shines before you ever try to send it out. I suspect that a certain number of folks who are looking for a publisher for their novel have never had anyone professional look at it and haven’t done much with revision. Writing is an art and a profession. Learn about publishing, the business, while you learn about writing, the art and craft. Editors and agents have long memories. Don’t stick out in theirs from sending out an amateurish manuscript. Make sure that what you send is the very best it can be, submitted in the most knowledgeable and professional way you can.

Best of luck!



Linda Rodriguez's Plotting the Character-Driven Novel, based on her popular workshop, and The World Is One Place: Native American Poets Visit the Middle East, an anthology she co-edited, are her newest books. Every Family Doubt, her fourth mystery novel featuring Cherokee campus police chief, Skeet Bannion, will appear in autumn, 2017. Her three earlier Skeet novels—Every Hidden Fear, Every Broken Trust, and Every Last Secret—and her books of poetry—Skin Hunger and Heart's Migration—have received critical recognition and awards, such as St. Martin's Press/Malice Domestic Best First Novel, International Latino Book Award, Latina Book Club Best Book of 2014, Midwest Voices & Visions, Elvira Cordero Cisneros Award, Thorpe Menn Award, and Ragdale and Macondo fellowships. Her short story, “The Good Neighbor,” published in the anthology, Kansas City Noir, has been optioned for film.


Rodriguez is past chair of the AWP Indigenous Writer’s Caucus, past president of Border Crimes chapter of Sisters in Crime, founding board member of Latino Writers Collective and The Writers Place, and a member of International Thriller Writers, Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers and Storytellers, and Kansas City Cherokee Community. Visit her at http://lindarodriguezwrites.blogspot.com