Please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for August: (8/3) Dianne Freeman (8/10) Daryl Wood Gerber (8/17) E. B. Davis's Review of Granite Oath, James M. Jackson's new novel (8/24) Rose Kerr (8/31) V. M. Burns.

Friday, August 12, 2022

Endings: A Blog by Warren Bull

 Endings: A blog by Warren Bull










Image by Kameron Kincade on Unsplash


Endings are hard. Hard to face and hard to write. But all things come to an end. Some great

writers and wonderful books and stories cop out in the end. NOTE: THIS BLOG IS FULL OF

SPOILERS. IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE BOOK OR DO NOT KNOW THE STORY, PROCEED AT

YOUR OWN RISK.



Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It’s all a dream? What a lousy trick. The

ending has been copied by writers lacking imagination ever since.


A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway  — The death of Catherine Barkley in childbirth is a

terrible way to treat a character who deserved better. Misogyny squared. The trope of a

woman being sacrificed is reinforced.


Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. — Jo decides not to marry Laurie. Okay, plot twist, I can live

with that. She marries Professor Bhaer. I protest. I liked Jo. I did not want her shuttled off into

boring matrimony with a dishwater dull man.


Battlestar Galactica. — Every imaginable ending gets thrown into last episodes. There is no way

the miniseries does not end. Watching this ending could be the subject of a seminar on how to

make watchers hate your work.


The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. — Tom Sawyer is revealed as a truly

vicious sadist. Huck will be civilized by Tom Sawyer’s mother so he can learn to accept the

hypocrisy and dehumanization necessary to fit into society. At least Jim is free.


Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows by JK Rowling. — After everything, he has gone through, even though Voldemort is dead, Harry has not won. The hierarchy of wizardry has not changed. He is thinking about Kreacher, who is, in effect, still a slave, forced to do what he is told to do. The next evil Wizard has the unchanged blueprint to follow.


Should the dogs in Old Yeller and Where the Red Fern Grows have survived? What endings do you think could have been written better?

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Mary Kay Andrews' THE HOMEWRECKERS

 


By Margaret S. Hamilton

 

While reviewing lists of recently published mysteries with a historic home renovation setting, I came across Mary Kay Andrews’s The Homewreckers. I had read and enjoyed Kathy Hogan Trocheck’s Callahan Garrity mystery series, and once I realized the witty and articulate former Atlanta Journal Constitution reporter writing women’s fiction was Trocheck using a pen name, I plunged into The Homewreckers.

 

It’s a great read, combining a cold case murder with present day evidence found at a home renovation site. Adding to the zaniness of filming an HGTV-type demo reno show is a substantial subplot involving the intrepid main character’s love life. I would have preferred more crime scene investigation and fewer flirtatious scenes over a whipped cream-topped brownie, but Andrews makes it all work.

 

I love the humor in Trocheck’s Atlanta-based House Mouse mystery series, particularly her main character’s interactions with her cleaning service employees. In The Homewreckers, Andrews creates a memorable cast of construction workers with a low tolerance for the meddling TV filming crew.

 

Main character Hattie Kavanaugh is a thirty-something widow, involved up to her hardhat in historic home renovations in Savannah. With the assistance of her family and close friends, Hattie buys a nearby Tybee Island cottage at a town auction and starts renovating it with the assistance of a TV producer and “designer.” Hattie is on a tight timeline, struggling to meet the demands of local zoning and building codes as well as the TV show’s producer. The usual construction surprises—rotten pipes, jerry-rigged electrical wiring, and termites—are dwarfed when Hattie and her crew find a body on site. Hattie, with the assistance of a local police detective, succeeds in solving what went wrong for the victim.

 

Hattie has a passion for restoring historic Savannah buildings to their former glory:

 

“…what I love best about my job is walking through an old house. Touching it, wondering about its past, listening to it, and then figuring out how to bring it back to life again for a new family…Sometimes we work months and months on a house, slogging through the nasty stuff, replacing old pipes, ripping out knotty pine paneling from the sixties and gross bathrooms, and it feels like you’ll never get it all done. Then, one day, the plaster’s patched and painted, and we switch on a crystal chandelier I found in a junk shop, and bam! It feels like I’ve won the lottery. And I forget all about the sweat and tears and rat poop.” (p.41)

 

Andrews knows the details of filming a home renovation show, displays her affection for Tybee Island, and throws in a credible mystery compelling enough to keep readers engaged. The Homewreckers is a thoroughly enjoyable summer read. I hope Andrews helps Hattie find another potential gem to renovate, perhaps with less interference from a TV crew.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

An Interview with Daryl Wood Gerber by E. B.Davis

 

From Agatha Award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber, the third in an enchantingly whimsical series featuring Courtney Kelly, the owner of a fairy-gardening and tea shop in Carmel, California. It’s a special place brimming with good vibes and the kind of magical assistance its proprietor will need to prepare for an old sorority sister’s birthday bash awhile solving a puzzling murder!

Courtney has thrown a few fairy garden parties—for kids. But if a local socialite is willing to dip into her trust fund for an old sorority sister’s fortieth birthday bash, Courtney will be there with bells on. To make the job even more appealing, a famous actress, Farrah Lawson, is flying in for the occasion, and there’s nothing like a celebrity cameo to raise a business’s profile.
 
Now Courtney has less than two weeks to paint a mural, hang up tinkling windchimes, plan party games, and conjure up all the details. While she works her magic, the hostess and her girlfriends head off for an indulgent spa day—which leads to a fateful facial for Farrah, followed by her mysterious death. Could the kindhearted eyebrow waxer who Farrah berated in public really be the killer, as the police suspect? Courtney thinks otherwise, and with the help of her imaginative sleuth fairy, sets out to dig up the truth behind this puzzling murder . . .

Amazon.com

 

I love cozy paranormal novels so when I saw Daryl Wood Gerber had started a series featuring fairies, I decided to try it. (Some of my ancestors are from Cornwall, England—a fairy territory evidently.) Unfortunately, I did not read the first two books, but, much to my pleasure, found that they are now on Kindle Unlimited—so go download those books so, like me, you can catch up!

 

The setting, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA, seems a picturesque place by the description in A Hint of Mischief. I looked up the climate and was astounded. The temperature rarely makes it into the 80s and never goes below 50 degrees F. As a beach gal, it has me wondering what everyone does there because I doubt they put on their bathing suits and swim. But then, there are the shops, of which, Daryl’s main character, Courtney, owns Open Your Imagination.

 

Please welcome Daryl Wood Gerber to WWK.                                             E. B. Davis

You said the Carmel was well-known for its courtyards. I’m trying to envision that. Is Carmel divided in squares, having shops on the exterior sides and joined in the interior by courtyards?

 

Carmel is a grid with parallel and perpendicular streets. The downtown shopping, dining, and inn/hotel areas consist of charming shops and arcades, many of which are connected from one street to another with courtyards. Some of these courtyards are “hidden” and deserve exploring. You enter to see one shop, continue on to find another shop, a fountain, trailing bougainvillea, and more. Some have steps up or down to the ultimate location.

 

I’m surprised that Carmel has Cape Cod style, rather than Spanish style as seems common in CA. Why is that? Does it have something to do with Comstock design? What is the history?

 

In Carmel, there are a lot of Spanish-style structures, but there is a vast wealth of other construction. The Comstock design, or storybook houses, came along when Hugh Comstock arrived, a number of years after the town incorporated in 1916. He designed the famous Hansel House, with its flared eaves and irregular chimneys, nothing like the town had seen before.

 

Courtney’s cat, Pixie, is a ragdoll. Why are they called ragdolls?

 

The name 'Ragdoll' is derived from the tendency of cats from the original breeding stock to go limp and relaxed when picked up. Ragdolls are adorable, loving creatures.

 

Is there a reason why Fiona, a fairy-in-training, resides in Courtney’s shop garden? Is Courtney responsible for Fiona while she’s on probation?

 

What better place for a fairy to live than in a shop that sells Fairy Gardens. We don’t know why Fiona is with Courtney yet. Readers will, in time, but for now suffice it to say that Fiona is entrusted to Courtney and Courtney to her. Yet, no, Courtney is not responsible for Fiona. Fiona has her path set ahead and must follow rules in order to earn her adult wings and be able to return to the fairy kingdom. For an imp like her, it can be a challenge, but she is toeing the line.

 

Courtney saw fairies when her mother was alive, but she lost the ability when her mother died. Is sadness or lack of belief a factor? Is there a reason why some people can’t see fairies?

 

When her mother died, Courtney was crushed. She was ten. Her mother could see fairies and fostered this ability in Courtney by planting beautiful gardens. I think that people, like Courtney, can shut down their imaginations when a tragedy strikes. Courtney fell into step with her father and lived “by the book” for many years. It wasn’t until she opened her heart to new possibilities and created Open Your Imagination her fairy garden shop, that she could yet again see fairies.


What are the four types of fairies?

 

There are nurturer fairies, guardian fairies, intuitive fairies and righteous fairies. Fiona is a righteous fairy, which means she needs to bring resolution to embattled souls. In the human world, she helps them solve problems.

 

Is Courtney’s assistant Joss Timberlake really an elf or does she just look like one? Does she have a responsibility for Fiona or are they just friends?

 

Joss is not an elf. That’s so cute that you’d ask. But, yes, she does look like one with her slight stature and pointed ears. Don’t you know someone who reminds you of an elf? She has a sprightly nature, too. She has no responsibilities for Fiona, but she has been guiding Fiona into literature and is the reason Fiona loves Shakespeare and Sherlock Holmes and poetry.

 

Is fairy lore English or Irish?

 

Typically, folklore is a combination of Greco-Roman, Celtic, and Germanic elements. That’s why you’ll have some creatures in German fairy tales that are completely different from creatures in Irish fairy tales. Leprechauns, which are part of Irish culture, came along much later.

 

Who is Fiona’s mentor?

 

Merryweather Rose of Song is a lovely older fairy who resides at the library. She is a guardian fairy and helps attendees at the library fulfill their love of reading. She has been assigned to Fiona as a mentor by the queen fairy. She knows how to have fun and is quite powerful, but she tries her best to keep Fiona on her path to learning how to be a full-fledged, adult fairy. Unlike Fiona, who is petite and silvery, Merryweather’s cheeks are plump, her loose-fitting dress a regal crimson, and one set of her wings sport matching polka dots.

 

Does Fiona have second sight? Or are they premonitions?

 

Fiona does not have second sight. But she is quite intuitive. With her mentor’s help, she’s working on this aspect of her learning.

 

Courtney’s father used to be a cop, but he turned to landscaping after an injury. Courtney used to work with him, but she quit to open her shop. Was there a problem working for her dad, or wasn’t she into landscaping?

 

After her mother died, Courtney did everything her father wanted. She studied hard. She excelled in sciences and agriculture. She loved landscaping. She loved planting and helping things grow. She knew she would join his business. And she did. But after a while, it wasn’t fulfilling to her. Dig, plant, don’t have fun, repeat. She needed something new. When she went to a Renaissance Fair and met a woman who was making fairy gardens, she fell in love with the art. When her nana died and left her a small inheritance, she followed her heart and opened Open Your Imagination.

 

What is a fairy garden, which Courtney creates and helps others to create in her shop?

 

A fairy garden is like doll-housing for your garden. Courtney focuses on container planting for her gardens. In each, she creates a story by using fairy figurines (often made of polymer) and environmental items like small houses, fairy doors, slides, waterfalls, and more. She’ll plant the garden and then have the figurines in “conversations.” A customer could also make a fairy garden at the foot of a tree, or anywhere in their home garden. They are whimsical and a way to invite real fairies into your garden.

 

What happened to the fairy Aurora?

 

That remains to be seen. When Courtney’s mother died, Aurora vanished.

 

How does Fiona help Courtney investigate?

 

Fiona, like any good sidekick, is not only a good listener but also a contributor. She has ideas and theories that she shares with Courtney. She might intuit that something is “off” about a person, but she cannot make a human tell the truth. She, like Courtney, just dig in and find the clues and discern the details of what is going on. In one instance, Fiona is able to communicate with other fairies (her network) to find out where a missing young woman might be.

 

Who was Miro?

 

If you are referring to the artist, Joan Miró was a famous Spanish artist, born in Barcelona. His work is considered surrealism, but has also been described as fauvism or expressionism. His early works were inspired by Van Gogh and Cézanne.

 

Do fairies have codes of behavior, Dos and Don’ts?

 

Yes, they do. They cannot make anyone tell the truth. Also, they should be serious about their work, and they can’t purposely put themselves in harm’s way. Lastly, they may not allow photographs of themselves, although they could pose for an artist.

 

Was there a reason or issue that prompted Clint Eastwood to run and win the position of Carmel’s mayor?

 

I don’t know why, but when he was mayor, a single two-year term, he supported small business interests while advocating environmental protection and constructing a library annex, along with public restrooms, beach walkways, and a tourists' parking lot. He was also against the no eating ice cream on the street rule.

 

What are “rays of paths?”

 

Courtney created a center spot in her backyard garden where she has a wicker table. From that place, she created paths that are “rays” leading from it to the four corners of her garden, emulating a “sun.” She feels balance from this design.

 

Why would an Amish wagon feature in a fairy garden? The Amish don’t believe in fairies.

 

In fairy gardening, a gardener can use all sorts of containers. Pots, hanging planters, urns. Some gardeners have used suitcases that have special meaning as well as old sinks and wheelbarrows. Wagons are fun for planting because they have such a unique design. With their large scope, and entire village can be planted in one. Courtney has wanted one for the longest time. When she finds an Amish wagon on sale at the Art and Beauty Spectacular, she bids on it. Just because the Amish don’t believe in fairies doesn’t mean that whoever owns the wagon later on doesn’t. Her wagon now has prominent place in her backyard.

 

What is microblading? But when the hair grows back wouldn’t it be too much in the area?

 

Microblading is a form of shaping eyebrows. Yes, hair grows back so microblading isn’t permanent. When it goes awry, it might take too much hair. When actress Farrah Lawson suffers a bad facial, she worries that her eyebrows won’t match in the movie she’s been shooting.

 

What is bilateral symmetry in landscape design?

 

If you look at one half of the garden, it matches the other half. If there is a stand of white roses on one side, there is a stand of white roses on the other. If there is a center planting, one half of the center design is identical to the other half.

 

Cedric Winterbottom is a male fairy who is dedicated to one person. Does everyone have a fairy?

 

No, not everyone has a fairy. The relationship between a fairy and a human is quite unusual. Some fairies do not bond to any human. They remain independent, as in the case of Merryweather Rose of Song. But in Cedric’s case, he met Misty as a child, and he dedicated himself to her.

 

What are fairy doors?

 

Fairy doors are miniature doors, usually set at the base of a tree, behind which might be a small space where people left notes or wishes for fairies. Fairy doors can also be installed into a fairy garden pot.

 

Is the mallow plant that Fiona eats the same as in the mallow plant from which marshmallows originally were made?

 

Marshmallows – real marshmallows – were originally made from the candied roots of a plant, and that plant is called "marsh mallow."  The marsh mallow is a flowering plant in the mallow family. The leaves of mallow can be added to a salad, and the fruit can be a substitute for capers. 

 

Why would Courtney agree to go out to dinner with her ex and his wife?

 

Honestly, Courtney agreed because she was put on the spot and couldn’t come up with a quick response. She’s not usually a pushover, but he’d caught her off guard. When Brady Cash, her good friend, agreed to go along, she felt better about the prospect.

 

Fairies have their own language, which Courtney is trying to learn. Do they speak the same language world-wide?

 

Fairies do speak the same language. Like fairies themselves, it is a mixture of Old English, Celtic, Grego-Roman, and Germanic heritage.

 

What’s next for Courtney?

 

A FLICKER OF DOUBT, the 4th Fairy Garden Mystery, comes out in 2023. With a theater foundation tea and art show planned at Violet Vickers’s estate, Courtney is hired to create charming fairy gardens for the event. It’s not so charming, however, when her best friend Meaghan’s ex turns out to be Violet’s latest artistic protégé. Even worse, not long after Meaghan locks horns with him, his body is found in her yard, bludgeoned with an objet d’murder.

 

There’s a gallery of suspects, from an unstable former flame to an arts and crafts teacher with a sketchy past. But when the cops focus on Meaghan’s business partner, who’s like a protective older brother to her, and discover he also has a secret financial motive, Courtney decides to draw her own conclusions.  Fearing they’re missing the forest for the trees, and with some help from Fiona the sleuthing fairy, she hopes to make them see the light . . .

 

 

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Writing About the Weather (and Keeping It Believable) by KM Rockwood

We all know Elmore Leonard’s first rule of writing is to never begin with the weather.

Sometimes, though, weather is an important aspect of a story. It can be as prominent as the leading characters. It can even be a character.

In my all-time favorite-to-reread book, “Rafe,” by Weldon Hill, a storm causes a major flood which becomes the catalyst for growth and redemption of the main character, not surprisingly named Rafe.

Theodore Taylor, in “The Cay,” presents a hurricane that washes over the entire island on which Phillip Enright is stranded during World War II. He survives, tied to a tree at the highest point on the tiny island.

In one of my novels, the already financially strapped Jesse finds his basement apartment inundated with flood water. To make matters worse, a body is floating in the exterior stairwell.

When creating disasters, weather or otherwise, for our writing, we tend to be careful to make them believable. We don’t want readers to close a book in disgust and say, “It couldn’t possibly have happened like that.”

But reality is not limited to the probable or even the believable, like our fiction usually has to be.

I grew up on New York’s Long Island, a place where hurricanes regularly cause huge problems. I can remember as a child seeing the remains of good-sized summer “cottages” standing in sea water after a hurricane had changed the shoreline. The high sand bluffs at a summer camp I attended have long since collapsed into the Long Island Sound.

I also remember talk of a South Cape May in New Jersey, which has been under water for decades now.

We are seeing devastating storms increasing in number and intensity, we should remember that this is not a recent phenomenon.

In 1900, the Texas island of Galveston was hit with a hurricane which washed completely over the island, destroying a booming population center that has never entirely recovered. All structures on the island were either destroyed or damaged. The death toll was estimated at around 8000.

The devastating hurricane of 1938 known as the Long Island Express reshaped the eastern “tail” of Long Island and swept hundreds of summer cottages in Rhode Island out to sea. Long Beach Island in New Jersey was completely flooded, with ocean water meeting back bay water over the island. Approximately 700 people died in that storm.

A few years later, the Great Atlantic Hurricane killed between 300 and 400 people.

In 1972, Hurricane Agnes stalled for several days over Pennsylvania, leaving 220,000 residents homeless and 50 dead in that state alone.

More recently, we have seen Hurricane Katrina, which ravaged New Orleans and surrounding areas in 2005. If we were under any illusions that we had learned to cope reasonably with storms of that type, Katrina was a reminder that we remain at the mercy of the weather. An estimated 1800 perished.

Hurricane Sandy blew through in 2012. Dramatic photographs, including one of a New Jersey seaside amusement park roller coaster now rising from the water, gave examples of the destruction. Some of my in-laws lost a house in the Breezy Point fire in New York City that had been in the family for over 120 years.

Record keeping of the weather and geography in this country is only a few hundred years old, so we don’t really know how the area has developed over the centuries. Perhaps it should be obvious that storms will continue to batter our relatively frail constructions, and that it is the very nature of barrier islands to shift and change over the years. Yet we seem to be blind to that. We keep rebuilding in vulnerable areas. Several of my siblings have purchased houses on barrier islands in recent years, even as they are increasingly threatened by unpredictable weather.

In “Condominium,” John D. MacDonald effectively addresses a hurricane disaster of immense proportions, so it can be done. But most of us keep our descriptions within the realm of believable, not necessarily realistic.

Can you think of other examples of weather as major components in stories?

 

Sources: Worst hurricanes in US history (nypost.com), Wikipedia; National Weather Service; PBS Great flood pbs.org

 

Monday, August 8, 2022

Ingredients for Mint Chocolate Murder

By Meri Allen

What’s the recipe for a fun mystery? When I was writing my latest Ice Cream Shop mystery, I decided to indulge myself and add an ingredient I’ve been dying to use for ages: I’ve always wanted to set a murder in a moody haunted castle.


My publisher asked me to write an anagram using the letters of the title of the book. Here’s a list of some of the other ingredients in MINT CHOCOLATE MURDER – I hope you’ll check it out.



 

M – Mysterious supermodel with a royal secret

I -- Ice cream social to die for

N  -- New England village of your Hallmark dreams

T -- Teashops and treachery 

 

C -- Crafty clues and red herrings

H -- Haunted Scottish castle 

O -- Obsessions turned deadly

C -- Cat who needs therapy

O – One hot veterinarian

L -- Locked room mystery

A – Art world gossip

T – Tantalizing twists

E – Enemies and frenemies

 

M -- Malicious suspects

U – Unrequited love

R -- Race against the clock 

D -- Danger in the dungeon 

E – Extra sprinkles!

R -- Riley Rhodes, my main character, an ice cream shop manager and former CIA librarian with plenty of secrets of her own


Authors, try an anagram with the title of your latest!

Readers, what are your favorite ingredients in a novel?



Meri Allen is the pen name for Shari Randall, author of the Lobster Shack Mystery series. She loves anagrams and word games.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

The Writer as Vagabond by Molly MacRae

 

Image by Joshua Woroniecki from Pixabay

The word vagabond strolled into my head the other day. I’ve always liked the word so I was happy to see it and to have it stick around for a while. I like the sound of it—full and round but with concrete edges in the G and the D, and with that tiniest buzz you get from the initial V. Say it out loud; it’s completely satisfying. I also like the definition—vagabond: one who moves from place to place without a fixed home. But why did vagabond choose now to come calling? Because it’s summer and the word wanted to lure me to the open road and away from a writing deadline? That’s a distinct possibility, but here’s another. Vagabond arrived so that I’d have a word to describe what kind of writer I am. It turns out that, besides being a mystery writer, I’m a vagabond writer, setting my stories in place after place, staying for a while, and then giving in to wanderlust and moving on.

It all started with short stories set in an unnamed bookstore in an unnamed town. The stories are a series that appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. They’re about Margaret, who’s a bookseller, and her sister Bitsy, who’s annoying. I knew the town was in northeast Tennessee, but that didn’t particularly matter to the stories. When Margaret and Bitsy appeared in the novel Lawn Order their (fictional) town gained the name Stonewall (not named for the general, but for the walls a man named Grundy built around his cow pastures).

From Stonewall, my stories travelled to Nolichucky, another fictional town in northeast Tennessee. Wilder Rumors is about a museum curator who might also be a burglar. The book didn’t pull up roots entirely, though. The curator makes a quick trip to visit his aunt in Stonewall—a trip with near-disastrous results.

Then comes Blue Plum, Tennessee, and the Haunted Yarn Shop mysteries. Blue Plum is dear to my heart and based on my favorite parts of the small towns I’ve lived in. It’s also suspiciously like Jonesborough, Tennessee, where my family and I lived for close to twenty years. There are six books in the yarn shop series, starting with Last Wool and Testament, and any one of them will give a flavor of that beautiful area snugged up near the border between Tennessee and North Carolina.

After travelling around northeast Tennessee, getting my writing feet wet as it were, my stories flew off to Scotland for the Highland Bookshop Mystery series. Scotland! The Highlands! A bookshop! What could possibly go wrong with a set up like that for my new set of characters? Well . . . dead bodies. Sorry, but that’s an occupational hazard in mystery novels. Starting with Plaid and Plagiarism, there are five books in this series, and the characters acquit themselves well, if I do say so.

As Margaret Welch (that’s Margaret from my Hitchcock short stories—she runs a bookshop and loves books as much as I do, so when I needed a penname, I figured why not let her take credit?) I’ve written about Cape Cod and Monterey County, California.  

Margaret and I are currently working on a book set in Ohio, but the vagabond in my writing is calling again. Where will I go when we leave Ohio? Shh, it’s a secret for now. I do have a destination (I’ve signed a three-book deal) and I’m very excited, but it’ll take a few months to get there. Look for news in the early spring!

Readers can be vagabonds, too, through the magic of turning pages. So do yourself a favor this summer; give in to the romance of the open road—read a good book (or five or seven or twelve). What’s on your TBR list?

 

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Being Believable by Abby L. Vandiver

As a writing instructor and coach, people come to me for help when they want to pen their story. And they often find that writing it isn’t as easy as one might have thought. That it is not as simple as just sitting down to do it. Because, yes, there are secrets to writing a good book, and rules. Surprised? So was I when I first started writing. I often said, “who knew there were rules to writing. 

I’ve heard, a time or two, that everyone has a novel in them. And whether that’s true or not, it is imperative for those who plan on writing one to make sure they uncover the secrets of storytelling. Luckily, they aren’t hidden in some obscure place or only available to certain people or even at an impossible cost. All it takes is putting in the time to learn the craft.

In my opinion, a good place to start the learning process when you’re contemplating writing that book you want to pen is to write what you know. An old adage, to be sure, attributed usually to Mark Twain. But certainly, writing what you know is not where you want to end up.

Whatever you write—fiction, non-fiction, or self-help, you want your work to be authentic. Believable. It makes you, the writer, accountable and that is critical in satisfying your reader. When you write what you know, you show first-hand experiences by drawing on your own prior knowledge of things like places, subjects, and cultures. But writing only what you know will limit your reach in what you can write and stifle your imagination. It boxes you in. What is important is to turn that saying around, switch the places of the words “write” and “know.” I think the best advice is to “Know what you write.” And how do you do that?

To reach outside those firsthand knowledge boundaries, writers have to learn more. Experience more. Be more aware. Research is the key. There was a time when publishers would send authors on fact finding trips. And maybe some still do, but with such wonderful inventions like the internet, you now find it possible to write beyond your familiarity and understanding. Take the time to research your work before you even sit down to write. And along the way. Don’t do information dumps or be pedantic or boring, but know enough to be believable.


WALL STREET JOURNAL, USA TODAY, and internationally best selling author, Abby L. Vandiver, is a hybrid author, being both self and traditionally published. She writes as Abby L. Vandiver/Abby Collette and Cade Bentley. Abby has always enjoyed writing, combining that with her gift for telling stories and love of mystery, she became an author.                                                                                                                                                                Amazon.com

Friday, August 5, 2022

Useful Phrases for Colorful Characters


Useful phrases for colorful characters: A blog by Warren Bull


Image by Gary Tresize on Unsplash



When I lived in North Carolina many years ago and when I lived in New Zealand more recently, I loved listening to the local idioms. Some made their way into my writing so I thought I would share a few here. When I know the attribution, I will share it. 


Madder than a box of frogs. – James Carville AKA Snakehead


About astrology and palmistry: they are good because they make people vivid and full of possibilities. They are communism at its best. Everybody has a birthday and almost everybody has a palm.  – Kurt Vonnegut


Cuter than a speckled puppy barking in the rain. 


That’s tainted money – taint yours and taint mine.


There are two kinds of people in the world, those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don’t.  


Even a bad excuse is better than none.


Dumber than a box of rocks.


A mill cannot grind with water that is past.


A friend to everyone is a friend to no one.


A ship in a harbor is safe, but that’s not what a ship is for.


An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind – Mahatma Gandhi


The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.


It’s better to wear out than to rust out.


Coffee and love taste best when hot.


Do not keep a dog. Bark yourself.


Do not sympathize with those who cannot empathize. 


Even from a foe you can learn wisdom.


It is only one step from the sublime to the ridiculous. 


He that goes a-borrowing goes a-sorrowing.  


If you cannot be good, be careful.


If you cannot live longer, live deeper.


It’s like juggling sand. – Ian Murray


It will be the same a hundred years hence.


Learn a language and you will avoid a war.


Don’t try to milk the bull.


No one can make you feel inferior without your consent – Eleanor Roosevelt


You might as well throw water into the sea as to do a kindness to a rogue.


Shiny are the distant hills. 


Sometimes we are the student. Sometimes we are the master. And sometimes we are merely the lesson – Jaclyn Smith



Talk of angels and hear the flutter of their wings. 


There is no shame in not knowing. The shame is in not finding out.


Well done is better than well said. 


You cannot push a rope.


 Blacker than two midnights in a jug.