Readers are most familiar with my Detective Jackson books, but I also have two standalone thrillers that I wrote before I started the series. I worked for a pharmaceutical magazine for years, so the books have subtle medical themes. I rewrote them last year to update the stories and give Jackson a small cameo in each.
I’m trying to decide what to write next—another Detective Jackson story or a futuristic thriller I’ve outline and started. My creative side really wants to write the thriller, but my inner accountant wants me to write another Jackson story first.
Money considerations aside, police procedurals and thrillers are different, and each has its own challenges. A procedural tends to be more structured Read more →
Robert Fate, author of the Baby Shark series, added writer to his long list of careers and accomplishments rather late in the day, but it hasn’t slowed him down. He has four Baby Shark books published: BABY SHARK, BEAUMONT BLUES, HIGH PLAINS REDEMPTION, and JUGGLERS AT THE BORDER. Read more →
The first bad moment came when it occurred to me that I wasn’t wearing a parachute. Here I was on my way to jump out of an airplane, and all I had on was a dirty blue jumpsuit and a body harness. Tremors of raw vulnerability washed over me. I worked through the moment, telling myself that Tim—my quiet, but quick-to-smile instructor —was wearing not one, but two parachutes. Any moment, he would hook our harnesses together in five distinct places. Read more →
On my to-do list for about a year now is this entry: Join Mystery Writers of America. Part of the delay has been my reluctance to write a $95 check for the yearly dues—without knowing there is a definitive benefit (other than the fact that I really like the women who run the organization). The other issue is whether I qualify to be an active member. Read more →
As I looked back on this year, I found this guest blog, which sums up the highs, lows, and strange encounters a novelist can experience in one day.
9:42 am: As I write page 162, I realize that an entire investigative thread in my new novel is not quite logical. And there’s no way to massage it or spin it. So I go back to the beginning and try to pick out and rewrite every reference to this line of inquiry. Did I get them all? Or did I leave a little silver of foreign material that will pop up and irritate readers? Now I have doubts about other plot threads. So I decide to print out all 162 pages and read through them before continuing to write the story. How many trees have I killed in my career as a writer and editor?
12:29 am: Another writer posts on my Facebook page, “Congrats on the review in Mystery Scene. ‘A thrilling, eye-opening read.’” I am excited. I haven’t seen this review, and it will make a great blurb. I search Mystery Scene’s webpage, but I can’t find the review and I don’t have a copy of the magazine. So everyone in mystery world knows what this review says, except me. I worry that the one line I know about may be the only positive thing the reviewer said.
3:10 pm: After months of waiting, my beta reader sends an e-mail with her feedback on the first 50 pages of my new story, Secrets to Die For. After commenting, “This is a very worthy story, a page-turner with great potential,” she says, “Try to SHOW rather than TELL.” Aaaghhhhh! I like to think that I live by this ubiquitous writing rule. But now I wonder: Do I even know what I’m doing?
6:17 pm: After months of waiting, the book trailer for my recently published novel, The Sex Club, arrives via e-mail. I excitedly click open the file, ready to be thrilled and amazed. But no, the trailer is weird and confusing. The girl in the last scene is at least 20, dark-haired, and kind of heavy. She doesn’t even look dead. The victim in my novel is 14 and blond and thin and very dead. I show the trailer to my husband. He hates almost everything about it and cannot stop talking about how much he dislikes it. I am crushed. I spent the last of my promotional money on the trailer, and I counted on it selling a few books. Now I have to compose an e-mail that diplomatically says, “Start over.” It takes an hour that I don’t have. (New and improved trailer is viewable at the bottom of this page.)
9:05 pm: I receive an e-mail from a mystery book club leader named Ruth Greiner, who apparently does have a copy of the Mystery Scene review and says she’ll never read The Sex Club no matter how great all the reviews are. She does not say why, and she does not have to. Just seeing her name horrified me. The antagonist in The Sex Club is a very nasty woman and her name is Ruth Greiner. How was I to know? Now I have to write an e-mail that explains how I chose the name—Ruth is Biblical and strong, Greiner is the name of a street in my old neighborhood. I also try to carefully express my concern for her feelings, without admitting any liability. I offer to send her a free copy of my next novel, then feel lame about it.
10:16 pm: Yet another fun-filled e-mail arrives. This one is from a local author whom I met at a book fair and exchanged novels with. He says he’s quite sure he’ll find a publisher for his new novel and wants to know if I’ll read his book and write a blurb for the front cover. This is the first time anyone has asked me for a blurb, and I’d like to be excited. I’m flattered that he thinks I have any clout. But I didn’t get past the first page of his first novel (which started with a rectal search by a large German woman), and this one, he says, is much more sexually explicit. How do I get so lucky? Oh yeah, I wrote a novel called The Sex Club, so he must think I’m a sex fiend. (It’s a mystery/thriller, really!) I spend 20 minutes composing an e-mail, then delete it, thinking I’ll deal with it tomorrow.
Every week I give away a free copy of The Sex Club on my website. I gave away 75 copies of The Sex Club at Bouchercon, and I’ve sent hundreds of copies to bookstores, book clubs, and readers who asked for it.
Meanwhile, I have a collection of new/nearly new paperbacks that have nowhere to go. Our local Book Exchange went out of business, so I’ve decided to give them away. To win one of these titles, simply e-mail me and ask for it. (Click the contact link on the right of this page.) I’ll randomly pick winners at the end of the week. Don’t forget to enter The Sex Club giveaway. (And you might consider ordering a few copies as the perfect stocking stuffer for your siblings and co-workers.)
- Fault Line (by Barry Eisler)
- The Guards (by Ken Bruen)
- A Nail Through the Heart (by Timothy Hallinan)
- What the Dead Know (by Laura Lippman)
- The Woods (by Harlan Coben)
- The Innocent Man (by John Grisham)
- The Blade Itself (by Marcus Sakey)
- Bad Luck and Trouble (by Lee Child)
- Deadly Errors (by Allen Wyler)
- Kidnapped (by Jan Burke)
- Safe & Sound (by J.D. Rhoades)
- Money Shot (by Christa Faust)
- Go Go Girls of the Apocalypse (by Victor Gischler)
- The Black Path (by Asa Larsson)
- The Secret History (by Donna Tartt)
My next step is to podcast The Sex Club and give it away in audio form. If I only had the time! I’m also thinking of offering a free download of one of my unpublished stories. My only hesitation is that I’m a better writer now than I was then. So does it make sense to offer an earlier story as a first exposure to my writing? Has anyone tried this strategy? I want to know what you think.