To Bid or Not to Bid – On-line Charity Auctions

AuctioneerI stumbled across a blog post for the Publishing Gives Back online charity auctions at the end of last year and decided to participate.   There was a week of bidding, with different agents and editors offerings each day.  Lots of different items were available:  critiques of first pages, query letters, full manuscript review, follow-up calls.  It crossed many genres, including mystery, young adult, non-fiction and others.   Operating much like an EBay auction, I found that monitoring the cutoff time was crucial since there was a flurry of last minute bids… Continue reading

Bum Glue

Well, isn’t this ironic?

My subject for this week’s blog post is Bum Glue – that elusive substance that successful writers credit with getting their work published.  In layman’s terms it is keeping your butt in your chair and getting the job done – the book written, the edits finished, the queries sent out.

After letting the glue get tacky and editing every day since the beginning of December (even through the holidays) – I’ve come undone.  I haven’t been motivated to edit my manuscript for the past five days!

Sure, I have lots of ‘excuses’ –… Continue reading

Where do you write?

Years ago, when I visited Hemingway’s home in Key West, I was mostly struck by his writer’s office – a freestanding carriage house out back, near the pool and the lush tropical flowers, near where his six- and seven-toed cats ranged. As a place to work, you can’t really improve on that.

That is not anything like where I work. At the moment, there is snow on the ground outside. And I certainly don’t have a pool. I do have a cat. When he’s outside, he perches on the wicker sofa on the porch and looks… Continue reading

I miss the days of black & white…

white hatA long time ago there was a time when it was easy to tell the good guys from the bad guys.  The good guys wore white and rode white horses and the bad guys wore black and rode dark horses.  Or if they didn’t ride horses, they drove white cars or possibly wore light colored jackets.  They were always clean shaven and their hair was neat.  They fought people with strong accents and lots of unruly  hair and beards who wore dark jackets.  Life was easy and you didn’t need Continue reading

The Mysterious Ways of Sex

The recent success of “Fifty Shades of Grey” has brought sex roaring back into the spotlight. In authors’ groups, reading clubs, libraries, there’s only one question on everyone’s lips: when is there enough sex in a book and when is there too much?

Sex in literature traces its roots to well before the Greek Empire. With every generation, there are innovations in depiction, but the heart of the thing remains the same. Whether you call it lurid, smut, porn, erotic — it’s still sex.

Mystery novels have had their share of it. Continue reading


swear word  What is your favorite curse word?  For anyone who has watched Inside the Actor’s Studio, you know this is one of the 10 questions James Lipton asks each actor.  The host was inspired by Bernard Pivot, who hosted the French broadcast Apostrophes, and used the Proust Questionnaire as an opportunity for a writer to reveal his/her personality at that same time as aspects of his/her work.

Swearing and cursing exist in all human languages.  As writers, it’s a tool that can be used to convey a personality trait Continue reading

Beyond the ‘Yellow Peril’

Throughout history, crime fiction has reflected the mores and beliefs of the age—as well as pushed those boundaries. So crime fiction has both mirrored, and battled, racism and other stereotypes.
It’s no surprise that mystery writer and Anglican priest Ronald Knox, during the Golden Age of mysteries, included this directive in his 10 Commandments of Detective Fiction: “No Chinaman must figure in the story.” Knox was probably tired of this cliched figure, knowing that it reflected badly on a culture. Continue reading

Drugs. Smoking. Alcohol.

Every day around the world there are people having a drink, smoking a cigarette, popping a headache tablet, or taking something to boost their energy or calm them down.  These are the crutches our modern society uses to cope with the world we live in.  Whether we like it or not.

This is also the world that the characters in contemporary mystery novels inhabit.  These characters are all involved Continue reading