Thursday, May 12, 2016

Writing What You Know

“Write what you know,” said my first fiction instructor back in 1954. I was 17 and already a sophomore at the University of Oklahoma. Needless to say, I was in deep water and way over my head—at least socially. Due to this traditional writing advice, like most novelists, I drew from my personal life to write fiction.

Book 1 
Grace Gets in Trouble
THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE, first book in my B&B mystery series, stars Grace Cassidy. She marries too young, loses her own identity trying to be perfect, and ends up broke and alone with a naked corpse in her room.


Book 2Grace learns to spread her wings.

Book 3
Grace practices flying.
Through the series, Grace loses everything she owns, discovers her own personality, finds a new strength and her own autonomy.


 Below is an article Grace has written for women on money, finances: 


(Or Who Think They Are)

by Grace Cassidy

Every woman should have money saved under her name alone. Married or not. Happy or not. In today’s world of changing mores and weakening family structure, a woman must always be able to support herself without help from anyone. Always have a bank account and a savings account under your own name and yours alone.

“Sounds selfish,” you say. “My husband loves me, and promises to always provide for me,” you say. “My husband takes care of all of our business,” you say.

That’s what I thought, too. Then suddenly the husband who adored me (or so I thought), ran off to the Cayman Islands with his secretary and took all of our resources with him. Most of it my family money. I was left with only the cash in my designer purse. (That purse, later sold on e-bay, was worth more than the money it held.)

“You would have credit cards!” you say.

Maybe so, but whatever you charge has to be repaid. By you. (This wasn’t a problem for me, since the girl friend called and reported each card as stolen.)

Be wise, and be safe. Here is what I suggest:

While still happily married start a savings account with some of your monthly household allowance. Be wise with the money under your control. Do you really need that $200 jar of night cream. After I was left penniless, I began using pig’s lard for night cream, and found that it worked as well as the fancy department store brand.

Jeans and T-shirts from Walmart or Target, that once I would never have even considered buying, looked great when I added an expensive scarf or brooch that I already owned.

You may never need this personal bankroll, but if your husband strays, or makes bad investments, or indulges in an unexpected midlife crisis, you are prepared to take care of yourself. And if necessary, care for an ill or injured husband who was smart enough to stick around. And with that advice, ladies, I leave to solve more mysteries. GC

Friday, May 6, 2016

Ten Things You Should Never Include in a Crime Novel

by Jean Henry Mead

I discovered an article in my files written by Andrea Campbell for The Writer magazine. It’s titled “10 Things Police Wish [Crime Writers] Would Omit" and I’m going to paraphrase here so as not to plagiarize:

Don’t have your cops always eating donuts. Most eat salads while on duty and they drink bottled water. They also work out to stay in shape, so if at least one of them mentions visiting a gym, it's realistic.

Policemen and veteran crime writers hate over-dramatization and not many real life detectives fight over a case. Crime writer Daryl W. Clemens is critical of plots where cops have a tug of war over a case that’s taken place on their jurisdiction border. They already have more work than they can handle.

Revolver silencers are another point of contention, according to crime writer Barbara D’Amato. She says, “Since the rotating cylinder is not closed, you can’t baffle the gasses” or muffle the sound.

Alcoholic policemen have been overdone and is another sore point for the police department. Former police officer and crime writer Robin Burcell wonder why so many fellow writers inject alcoholism into their plots.

Lone female detectives who search isolated areas without calling for backup is extremely foolhardy, according to writer Susan McBride. Make sure your woman detective alerts her partner or dispatcher of her plans and whereabouts.

Never tell a suspect to “Drop it, Pal,” because the gun could discharge when it’s dropped or tossed. Have the suspect place it on the ground and back away.

Never have police officers pointing their guns skyward, or what is referred to as “aiming at Jesus.” Police are trained to point a gun out and down, and directly ahead in preparation to discharge the weapon. Also, never have an officer jack a round into the gun’s chamber before entering a building. They always keep a round chambered, even in their holsters.

Don’t shatter a windshield. When hit by a bullet, there will be a small hole and spider web effect, even when hit several times.

Suspects are no longer called “perps,” unless your police department is located in New York, California, or a few other heavily populated areas. The term isn’t generally used anymore.

Police officers are burdened with lots of paperwork so make sure your cop does his or her share. According to Campbell, there’s “paperwork related to the Miranda warning before an interrogation; paperwork that police turn over to medical personnel at a hospital before interviewing a crime victim; and still more paperwork for requisitions and reports."

Readers of crime fiction are pretty savvy about police procedure. So do your research and don't depend on what you've seen in films and on TV. Sloppy research may result in readers passing up your next release in favor of writers who have done their homework.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

An Unforeseen Hazard

by Carola

I recently received the copy-edited manuscript of my fourth Cornish Mystery, Buried in the Country, from my publisher.  (I just had my 70th birthday so I'm allowed to refuse to learn how to do it on the computer.) I quite enjoy editing copy-edits--with a stet stet here, and a stet stet there--so I was pleased to see the package.

Until I opened it. The stink of cigarette smoke gave me an instant headache.

I spread the contents out, on my sofa, and sprayed citrus essence air freshener over them. It helped a bit, enough so I could bear to touch them the next day. I worked on the ms for about half an hour before my head started to ache.

I emailed my editor's assistant. She apologized, saying they hadn't wanted to use this copy-editor for my work but s/he was the only one available considering time constraints. She promised they'd never let him or her near another ms of mine!

So I slogged on, stopping every half hour to step out into the garden for a breath of iris-scented fresh air. Today I haven't been able to face it yet (nearly 5 pm) but those time constraints are calling. I'm going to have to tackle it this evening.

I've borrowed library books and bought used books that smelled of tobacco smoke, but never anything this bad. Please, if you smoke, remember that paper absorbs the stuff and makes a present of it to the next person to get near it!

Thursday, April 28, 2016


By Jackie King

There’s a certain creative energy that fills the air and actually permeates the cracks and crevices at Writer Conferences. Speakers vary, technical techniques evolve, markets wax and wane; but the atmosphere is always the same. Pure electricity. I’ve been attending different conferences for a good many years and I always come home physically exhausted (who wants to miss anything?) but mentally refreshed. New ideas seem to spring alive and old ones freshen. Or in plain Okie-speak: I’m again ready to hit that keyboard for another year!

This year I’m planning on attending the Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc., scheduled May 8 and 9 in Oklahoma City.

The keynote speaker will be Steven James, national bestselling author who writes page-turning Thrillers. Suspense Magazine has named James’ book THE BISHOP as their book of the year. This publication claims that James “sets the new standard in suspense writing.” Publishers Weekly calls him a “master storyteller at the peak of his game.” And RT Book Reviews promises, “the nail-biting suspense will rivet you.”
Steven James
Steven James
 Product Details

If you’re one of those whose heart cries out to put words on paper, accept that you’re one of God’s scribes. I’m not talking about religious writing; I’m talking about telling stories about the world you live in. Honesty is what readers want; but we must remember that my truth may be quite different from your truth, but that's okay. There are a wide variety of readers in the world. Our work will not be everyone’s cup of tea. But we will each find our audience.

The writers at this particular conference are unbelievably generous-hearted. Authors with over 50 published books to their credit will listen to a beginning writer and make helpful suggestions. Publishers and agents are available for appointments, or if you missed that opportunity, you can catch them in the hallways. “Anywhere but the bathroom,” one quipped.

If you write or if you want to write, don’t hesitate to sign up for this event or another like it. I guarantee that you’ll come home just like me…tired, happy and ready to write.

For more information contact the fee is a reasonable $200. and includes two banquets.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Writing on Deadline

By June Shaw

I've never had to write a book with a deadline from a publisher, I recently realized and wish I'd had that experience.

Many writers today put out two or three or even more books a year. How can they? I can't imagine doing that--but then, I don't write quickly.I could. I have the time now--something I thought I never would say--but somehow I don't get the words down too much faster than when I was teaching.

Okay, that's not true. I write more now that I am retired and my five children have grown and left home. Thank goodness, they're not far away.

It's just that I'm not certain what I'll be writing now that I ended one mystery series and wrote standalones in other genres and now I'll write to contract with a different series and publisher. And this one has given me deadlines to meet. They like the first book and the brief synopses I came up with for the next two.

I told the editor I didn't write fast and suggested when I could probably have the next ones done. To have more time to advertise, they suggested alternate dates. I agreed. Now I'm concerned. But I guess instead of keeping my fingers crossed that I'll get book two finished in time, I should get those fingers hitting on keys.

Okay, I'm doing that now. I'll let you know how well it goes.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Tired of Writing a Mystery Series?

by Jean Henry Mead

Some serial mystery authors have grown tired of writing about the same characters. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle grew bored with Sherlock Holmes and killed him off although he later resurrected the infamous sleuth. Agatha Christie also grew to hate her arrogant little detective Hercule Poirot and wanted to end his career as well as his life. My own Logan and Cafferty mystery/suspense series became tiresome after I had finished novel six, Murder at the Mansion. However, after starting a standalone suspense novel, I began dreaming about my senior sleuths, Dana Logan and sidekick Sarah Cafferty. In my dreams, both women seemed to plead with me to continue the series.

I have to admit that, after six months of not tuning into their conversations and adventures, I missed them. They had become old friends. In fact, they were patterned after my best friend and I while we were still both young, single and adventurous. My sixtyish amateur sleuths have gotten themselves into some unusual predicaments but have managed somehow to survive.

I eventually decided to write a serious seventh novel but my sleuths refused to fit completely into serious mode. Dana’s friend  Sarah has an innate sense of humor that can’t be tamped down, and Dana usually goes along with her antics, no matter how much I try to discourage them. However, the novels’ subjects are serious:  drugs, terrorism, adultery, anarchy, romance, theft, gray wolves, RV park intrigue, a tornado, flood, and, of course, murder. But Sarah always seems to make light of or exaggerate the problems which present themselves.

Emotions are the most important elements in novel plots, so I’m grateful to have a quirky character like Sarah to make the novels come alive. No cardboard characters for me.

My current work in progress, Logan and Cafferty #7, is titled Mystery of the Black Cross and features Sarah’s laser-burned face and the murders of two women in the cosmetic surgeon’s office. I researched the novel by suffering through a similar burn myself. I then came across an anarchist’s group dating back to the twelfth century. The research has been fascinating. I tied the two subjects together by having the killer paint a black cross on the house the two women share. A deadly warning or a prank? I’m afraid you’ll have to wait to find out.  : )

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Are Critique Groups Worth the Bother?

by Jackie King

The short answer is, "Yes." Finding a Critique group that is a perfect fit is more complicated.

Locating the right critique group can be a bit like dating. I can be time-consuming, frightening and emotionally painful. You may have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince. But if you’re persistent, the results can be a wonderful enrichment to your life. Only you can decide if it’s worth the investment of your time.

A good critique group is a valuable tool to any writer, but if you’re a beginning writer finding the right one can be a harder challenge. This process may take courage and determination. Many of the best groups are by invitation only. Some of these groups include multi-published authors who may seem intimidating to a tyro. But as writer Jodi Thomas often says with a laugh, “I was a 15-year-overnight success.” That’s true of more published authors than not.

To get started, begin hanging out where the writers of your genre are: their author pages on Facebook, writer groups, and writer conferences. Most writers are wonderfully friendly and helpful people. The money I spent attending writer’s conferences has put me in contact with many authors.

Remember, you can always start a group of your own. Take a writing class at your local community college and invite the students you meet. Look for an online group. I just Googled “Critique groups for Tulsa writers,” and found several opportunities. Two were local writer’s groups and one was an online writing group. This is the way you start.

Years earlier I was invited to join a group that has changed a great deal over the years, and because the participants were kind hearted, I’ve stayed. There are now only two founding members remaining in this group, but this group has morphed into the gem of all critique groups. I trust these writers to tell me the truth and to tell it gently enough that I won’t want to go home and throw my computer out the window.

If you’re starting you own group, set up guidelines to begin with and stick with them. One of the rules in our group is that we must always be kind as well as honest. Some groups have a rule that you must either bring something to read for critique or a writing information handout for each member.

These things are learned by trial and error. Don’t be discouraged if meetings for your first group begin to fizzle after a few months. Keep encouraging each other, and above all else, keep writing.