Making Up History

I’m busily writing a series of cozy mysteries called The Endurance Mysteries. The first book, Three May Keep a Secret [2014], introduced Grace Kimball, her friends and their small Midwest town of Endurance. In the second book, which will be out next year, one of Grace’s friends buys a Victorian home that is falling apart. This friend wants to restore it to its 1880’s splendor. Because of this plot decision, I had to create a history for this house. Grace researches its history for newspaper articles in the Endurance Register. I had a lot of fun creating a background for… Continue reading

Don’t Be Afraid To Get Lost

In the process of writing my manuscript, one of my favorite tasks, the one I thought would be so boring, was doing the research. Depending on the story, research can be surprising, intimidating, unnerving, intriguing, funny, heartwarming, or scary. However, it’s always enlightening. And, an enlightened writer is an interesting writer.

demonologist_copyThe most unnerving research I’ve done was for a paranormal story about ghosts and possession. One of my Google trips led me to a book by Gerald Daniel Brittle, The Demonologist, the Extraordinary Career of Ed and Lorraine Warren.

Research: Make Mine Wiki

Writing, for me, is an act of pure joy, a chance to leave the world and enter a frothy bubble of thought and creation. I look forward to it as I move through the day, the way a child might, when promised candy at the end of chores.

While writing is my one true love, research has always been a second passion. In my university years, I was lucky to be just a few minutes hike from a paradise of sorts, the Library of Congress, with its heady combination of almost unlimited resources (838 miles of shelves!) set in… Continue reading

The Writer’s Lament: Where Did I Put That?

This month we’re exploring events from our pasts that have influenced us as writers. I have an anecdote or two, but I think I will save those for later in the month. Instead, I’d like to mention a quality that has affected me, not only as a teacher, but also as a writer.

Before writing novels, I taught high school English in a small town in Illinois. For many of those thirty-four years I was a single mother of three children. This meant that besides teaching English—including countless nights and early mornings of grading papers—I was also packing lunches… Continue reading

Endurance, Illinois: Only in My Mind

“Setting” is a key word on Mostly Mystery this month, and the setting of my upcoming novel, Three May Keep a Secret, is the small town of Endurance, Illinois. Because I’ve lived in the Midwest—specifically Illinois—most of my life, I wanted to write about a place with which I’m familiar. I realize people on the East and West Coasts feel like the middle of the country is a boring place to fly over, but I find a great deal of pleasure living in this part of America in a small town.

Research: Interviewing Expert Sources

My first mystery, Three May Keep a Secret, is coming out this November from Five Star Publishing.  I did mounds of research both for this book and the second one in progress. Experts in the field were my best resources when it came to getting accurate details. An English teacher and college professor until 2011, I really didn’t know much about bullet calibers, dead bodies, rigor mortis, or police procedure. While I could read about these online and in books, I found it very profitable to ask questions of experts.

My books take place in the small town of… Continue reading

Enjoying The Research

detectiveIn my first serious attempt at writing fiction, I decided to go with a mystery and an amateur sleuth. That type of book is called a Cozy.

I chose that genre because I’d read it for years. So, here’s what I did. In my mind I pictured the setting on the street where I grew up. The protagonist had two friends who were very much like my friends. And, the protagonist had a job in the same field I had worked. The only research I had to do was to… Continue reading