At a social event in the distant past when it was possible to attend such things as social events, the woman I was conversing with over our plates of snacks asked excitedly when my next book would be released. I thanked her and told her I had just completed the first draft (of Hidden Obsession), and I wasn’t sure how long revisions would take.

Her expression went blank, the clam-dip laden cracker halfway to her mouth. “But,” she said, when she recovered, “if it’s finished, doesn’t it just go to press?” In a magical world, my first, rough draft might be perfect and ready for publishing, but I didn’t say that. I thanked her for thinking my first draft of a new story was publishable. Calling it a first draft implies there’s more to do, I said. I picture the writers out there now nodding sagely, maybe layered on a sigh, because they know what’s next.

I have just now finished the first, rough draft of my next book, to be titled Genuine Fake, which will be in my Devlin Security Force series. Keep in mind I write romantic suspense, which is suspense/mystery interwoven with a central romance. Here’s a sketch of the plot. Gemma is a painter and the granddaughter of a famous deceased artist (think Andrew Wyeth stature). Attempts on her life are tied to recent forgeries of her grandfather’s works. Boyd, an operative for Devlin Security, must keep her safe until his company and FBI Art Crime stop the bad guys.

Writers employ varied methods to create that draft. I’m generally what is called a plotter. I do character sketches and devise major points in the plot ahead of writing scenes and chapters. I’m sure approaches to revising are as diverse as approaches to writing. I can describe only what I do.

Ring of Truth, book 2 in the Devlin Security series

My next job is to use the notes I’ve made as I go through each scene. Have I adhered to the framework of  the three-act structure? Have I included enough details and sensory impressions to make scenes come alive? Am I increasing tension from chapter to chapter? Are my characters behaving in consistent manners? And so on. I see if I’ve ended paragraphs with a punch and scenes with questions or other hooks that keep readers going. I edit for word usage and clarity, grammar and punctuation. Oh, and the typos, because they do happen.

Cleopatra’s Necklace, book 3 in the Devlin Security series

When I wrote for a publisher, at this point I sent the story to my editor, who sent back a list of further revisions. That completed, the publisher would then take care of the rest. I am now publishing independently, so the rest is up to me. The next step is writing the back cover copy, that is, the brief description of what the book is about. This must lure readers to buy the book. It must be long enough but not too long and include conflicts in both the suspense plot and the romance. This is the most challenging aspect of preparation, and the one I dislike the most.

Formatting for digital version of On Deadly Ground, book 1 in the Devlin Security series

I do not hire an editor as some indie authors do. So at this point, I add front matter—title, copyright info, list of my other books. You can see the front matter for On Deadly Ground in this image. Then back matter—a letter to the reader, a brief bio, and possibly an excerpt from another book. I also copy all the pages into a template for a print book. You may think this is tedious, but I find it a soothing way to decompress from the actual writing.

As an indie author, I pay for formatting and cover art. My digital formatter works her magic so it has clickable links and fits Amazon’s guidelines. Next, I send a request to my cover artist, with cover ideas and character descriptions. Sometimes it takes a few first drafts of those before I’m satisfied. As yet, I have no concrete ideas for the cover for Genuine Fake. But it must fit with the general look of the other Devlin Security Force books.

Once the cover and formatting are completed, I set up social media announcements, send a newsletter, and book ads for the book’s launch. Finally I upload both digital and print versions to my account at Amazon and go through their process. Finally, I click “Publish” and cross my fingers.

Wish me luck with Genuine Fake!

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For Sale: Screenplay, Never Made

I’m a novelist and I just finished writing a screenplay. Why, you may ask, would I do something as silly as that? I’ve never written one and have no experience selling one. If you’re a writer like me, restless and always tossing around new ideas in your head, then you know that the monkey chatter in a writer’s brain never stops. So after finishing my most recent novel, I sat down at my desk and wrote.

And boy, did I learn a lot in the process. Writing a novel and writing a screenplay are two altogether different beasts. I’d never undertaken the task of writing a screenplay, and hadn’t realized the level of difficulty. The challenges it presents are far different than writing a novel. For one thing, brevity is key. In some ways it’s more like writing poetry, but always with an eye toward the visual. You can’t write a sentence like, “Jimmy frowns, thinking about his nagging mother,” because the audience will never know why he’s frowning. Furthermore, the writer must understand how to properly format the screenplay. It’s almost like writing code.

You might ask if I turned one of my novels into a screenplay? I did not. I’ve had this movie idea bubbling in my head for the last year now and it came to me in a series of visuals. Good. Now I had the first step down: the concept. Now I had to figure out everything else involved in the process.

I didn’t have the time to teach myself the basics until I finished my novel-in-progress. So I took my time and finished my novel, sent it into my agent, and waited for his response (he loved it). Then I took a week off and thought about my story. Once I was ready, I delved into it. I have to admit, it seemed daunting in many respects. And yet in one other way, I went into it blissfully ignorant of the difficulties and obvious pitfalls. Not to mention, the odds of seeing your screenplay make it to the big screen are extremely low. But if you don’t at least try, you’ll never know.

In my spare time I read a lot of screenplays that had similar themes to mine. I learned through trial and error, and also from some friends who know the genre much better than I do. My son is a film major at the U and he read it and gave me some great suggestions. As did Jule Selbo, a Maine crime novelist (her novel, TEN DAYS by Pandamoon Publishing, comes out this summer ). She taught screenplay writing in college and worked for many years in Hollywood. Her feedback over coffee was invaluable and I can’t thank her enough.

Like publishing, when writing a screenplay you have to consider what kind of story you are telling. What’s fresh and new? What will appeal to a wide audience? I thought my idea was cutting edge and had many of those elements, while at the same time using the traditional story arc. I processed all the feedback and then went back and rewrote and changed many scenes where necessary. I needed more scene headings for exterior and interior locations. White space was good. Too much narrative bad. Show don’t tell. The description had to be just enough to give direction but not too much that it was excessive and extraneous. My characters needed ages. And I quickly learned that it’s not the screenwriter’s job to provide camera shots and soundtracks. Yes, I made both mistakes.

After rewriting and rewriting, I think I ended up with a pretty good script on my hands. Sure, it still needs more work. And I have a few more ideas that I’ll try to squeeze into the story. Most Hollywood scripts are around 110 pages, and I’m just under that mark. So any changes that I make will need to be brief and relevant to the story.

So what is my screenplay about. It’s called THE VAULT and it’s a thriller with some dark comedy thrown in. I have some ideas about who might play who, but that’s not for me to decide, although if you’re free Denzel Washington, I got a killer part for you. I have a meeting with an L.A. agent at the end of the month and we’ll see what she says about my logline and synopsis. It might not amount to anything, but as they say in Hollywood: at least I got a meeting. I’m proud of what I wrote and will continue to market it where and when possible. But for now it’s onto the next novel.

Then maybe the next movie idea.

I really enjoyed writing my screenplay. It stimulated different parts of my brain and really helped me in thinking about how to tell a story. I have other ideas I’d love to pursue at some point in the future. Of course I still love the breadth and scope of writing novels. That’s my first priority. In my opinion, there’s nothing as comforting and satisfying as a good book. Don’t think I could ever give that up. But now that I better understand the nuts and bolts of writing a screenplay, and all the rules that go with it, I can’t wait to give it another shot.

Maybe I’ll stalk Quentin Tarantino out in L.A., corner him in an elevator, and hand him my screenplay. You never know, he might actually like it.

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Weekend Update: April 10-11, 2021

Next week at Maine Crime Writers there will be posts by Joe Souza (Monday), Susan Vaughan (Tuesday), William Andrews (Thursday) and Kate Flora (Friday).

In the news department, here’s what’s happening with some of us who blog regularly at Maine Crime Writers:




An invitation to readers of this blog: Do you have news relating to Maine, Crime, or Writing? We’d love to hear from you. Just comment below to share.

And a reminder: If your library, school, or organization is looking for a speaker, we are often available to talk about the writing process, research, where we get our ideas, and other mysteries of the business. We also do programs on Zoom. Contact Kate Flora

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Never Assume Something Is wasted

John Clark on a manic writing binge. Remember the heated pool from my Places of Power post? Something else kicked the creativity from my mornings in hot water into overdrive. I’m not making any attempt to sell you something, but read on.

A month ago, I responded to a post on the Maine Library listserv asking whether anyone had experience hiring someone for contract cataloging. Since this is a part of library work I very much enjoy (after declaring on the final day of my cataloging class at the University of South Carolina that ‘Hell would freeze over before I used that skill), I replied and said I was interested. A couple weeks later, I went to do an interview in Boothbay Harbor. It went well, and I was hired to create bibliographic records for obscure items.

Having once been the director there, I’m fond of and familiar with the town, so I decided it was a splurge day at Enchantments, one of the neatest stores on the planet. After selecting a number of new bumper stickers, my favorite being “Prays well with Others,” I decided to check out the candle display. I still have my Prosperity candle I bought there close to twenty years ago.

This time, I looked over the entire selection. While several were enticing, the one I bought is called Creativity. It’s eight inches tall and close to three in diameter, with iris, rose and cinnamon as the essential oils. Call me crazy, but ever since I brought it home and set it beside my computer, I’ve written between 1,000-2,000 words a day. Even better, I’m awash with new ideas, a particularly nice side effect, given the number of themed anthology contests for short stories.

The novella, destined to be the last piece in Hardscrabble Kids is now at 45,000 words and I’m only halfway through the plot. Instead of it becoming the finishing piece, I took Subah Rioux, one of the six characters I wrote about in a blog last year, and wrote her story. Then a conversation about how so many people were overdoing caffeine I heard in the locker room at the Alfond Center became a flash fiction piece submitted to another anthology competition. When MWPA announced their flash contest in the latest newsletter, I tucked the prompt in the back of my head and went swimming. Three hours later, my entry was done and submitted.

In addition to working on Don’t say It, the book in progress, I’m writing stories to enter in the Sex and Violins and Asinine Assassins anthology contests.

As to the title of this blog entry, I’ve been careful to save anything I’ve begun as a document, just in case I might have better insight into it later. The candle has given me hope that many of them are worthy of resurrection and rehabilitation. Interesting character names are also saved in a text file, because you never know who’s likely to save the day. People like Annise Thesia and her cousin Lida Kane who live in the sleepy town of Slumber Point on a Maine river, have joined Clard Briggs, Bug Wiesendorf, Gnard Siskibunti, and the universally disliked Gudi Tuchuz are sitting around an imaginary table in my imagination, awaiting their stories to be created.

Case in point, Marcy-Jo Parmenter, the sixteen year old protagonist in Don’t Say It was a twelve year old boy lacking a big toe thanks to his OCD when I first got the idea for the story three years ago. Much of the rest of the original story idea remains, but it’s working so much better with Marcy-Jo.

Given that I have four YA urban fantasy novels partially written, I’m in hopes some candle magic will help them along as well.

In addition, there’s the fun of new ideas appearing in my head all the time. Below are a few examples.

1-Sarah Palin’s revelation that she has COVID took me back to something from the campaign, but it’s now as follows; “I looked up as a pig wearing lipstick and a FitBit sauntered by me, smiling mysteriously.”

2-from a faculty Christmas party at Husson years ago. “I was about to dip a piece of angel food cake in the chocolate fountain when it winked at me (the fountain, not the cake)”

3-My granddaughter Piper was looking out the back window just after sunset a year ago last December and said; “I am the daughter who loves winter, dark winter.” (is this a great opening line for a story, or what?)

In addition to thoughts, there’s gold in conversations overheard as well as interesting people you see. As a writer, I have the fun of looking at a person and imagining them in a story. And now back to my book.

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The Author’s Companion

I think most people would agree that writing is a solitary endeavor. I personally need a quiet room, no music, no distractions. The coffee shop and laptop situation is not for me; I’d be too busy people-watching to be productive, not to mention eating all the scones. So I sit at a rolltop desk with a pretty big desktop screen and little tchotchkes that mean something to me—a fingerpainting by my youngest granddaughter, a tiny china pig in sunglasses making a sandcastle, favorite family photographs. I keep a scented candle from Southern Elegance burning most of the day and pretend I am southern and elegant.

Occasionally I dust the keyboard, remove the crumbs, and tidy up the papers I set aside “for later.” Later really never comes, and after a few weeks they get tossed out without much serious examination. About four or five times a year, I throw everything that’s on the desk to the floor (except for the computer) in a vain attempt at reorganization.

I find notes I wrote to myself pertaining to the work in progress that I cannot understand since my handwriting, once so exemplary, is now practically indecipherable. I was able to read HUMOR FUN !!! because I printed those reminders, but “Charles reinheaiy—damn dos” took me quite a while to figure out. It turns out it says “Charles overhearing—damn dog,” but I honestly have no recollection what Charles was supposed to overhear, or why I’ve damned the poor dog.

Speaking of which, I constantly see other writers’ pets on social media obstructing their owners’ work. Cats are notorious for lying on top of desks and giving the stink-eye. Think you’re going to type today? Think again. Dogs look up imploringly from under the desk hoping for some of those keyboard crumbs or a pat or a kind word.

My dog Fitz lies wherever I want to put my feet, which proves somewhat useful in the winter for keeping them warm. It is remarkable though that a fat dog can sandwich himself into a small space and be completely oblivious to his exasperating effect. There is a dog bed in the room. Heck, there’s a human bed in the room, but he much prefers to literally get under-or-overfoot.

Fitz came to us twice-rescued and thrice-named by the age of 8-ish months. He was originally owned by someone who called him Festus. He must not have met their expectations, and they got rid of him. A young couple adopted him from a shelter and renamed him Fisher, which, we all have to admit, is an improvement from Festus. But when their mold-infested trailer was condemned, they couldn’t take any animals to their new place.

This is where we stepped in. A plea on Craigslist before they put him back in the shelter drew us to that mold-infested trailer. A skinny, black and white dog that was reputedly part border collie barked and shed all the way home. Since one of our granddogs was already named Fischer (different spelling, but I’m afraid dogs will never win any spelling bees), we changed Fisher to Fitz, assuming he’d just think we had a speech impediment. And he’s been barking and shedding and getting fatter ever since.

A dog named Fitz appears in The Lady Adelaide Mysteries, and he’s not much better-behaved. He’s based on my childhood dog, a wire-haired fox terrier named Tippy, who would spin in circles until he keeled over. But real Fitz is weaseling his way into my new book. I just have to figure out what to name him. It won’t be Festus.

Do you have a companion too? What’s on your desk?

Fitz in Position

Maggie Robinson is a former teacher, library clerk, and mother of four who woke up in the middle of the night, absolutely compelled to create the perfect man and use as many adjectives and adverbs as possible doing so. A transplanted New Yorker, she lives with her not-quite perfect husband in Maine, where the cold winters are ideal for staying inside and writing historical mysteries and romances. Her books have been translated into French, German, Portuguese, Turkish, Russian, Japanese, Thai, Dutch and Italian. Maggie is a member of Sisters in Crime and Maine Romance Writers.

Posted in Maggie's Posts | 7 Comments

Writing After The Pandemic

I’ve been thinking lately about a literature class I took in high school that focused on the work of some of the most well-known writers of the early twentieth century. While the old-school denizens of the English Department marched us through Herman Melville and Stephen Crane, an inspired, just-out-of-grad-school teacher introduced us to William Faulkner, Langston Hughes and Virginia Woolf.

Langston Hughes

The course featured both novels and short fiction. Many of the stories reflected the enormous cultural shift that occurred between WWI and WWII, driven in large part by the industrialization of America.

The young protagonists in Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel and Sinclair Lewis’s Babbit examined life in suddenly stifling small towns. Their characters felt change pulsing beneath the surface of their day to day lives and often yearned for the fast pace and promised anonymity of the big city.

The class left me with an enduring interest in literature of that era, and happily my town’s library had a great collection I explored over the next couple of years.  Like so many young people I was fascinated by the writers who came to be known as the Lost Generation lived as expats in Paris in the 1920s, drinking together, critiquing each other’s work and engaging in frequent ego-driven spats.

Gertrude Stein played with style and wrote of forbidden love affairs. Ernest Hemingway created a series of disillusioned men trying in vain to achieve an unattainable masculine ideal. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novels featured money-obsessed characters chasing their alienation at decadent parties. All of these writers survived two major traumatic events that took place at the same time—World War I and the 1918 flu pandemic.

With a few exceptions (particularly Katherine Anne Porter’s Pale Horse, Pale Rider, and Willa Cather’s One of Ours), fiction writers of that era contemplated the effects of the war and the pandemic, not the horrifying events themselves.

A full century down the road, I’ll be fascinated to see how writers in general, and crime writers in particular, respond not only to the current pandemic that has killed 2.8 million people around the world and 555,000 in the US, but of the many other challenges we currently face as a nation and a world. Structural racism. Climate change. Economic inequality. The alarming number of elected officials willing to toss democracy aside if it threatens their power.

Page for page, word for word, dollar for dollar, I believe contemporary crime writers already shine when it comes to weaving the issues of the day into novels that both entertain and enlighten. If history is any guide, watch for that trend to accelerate as we move out of the darkness of the recent past to whatever comes next.  As with those who wrote a century ago, most of our stories won’t be on the nose about the coronavirus. But they’ll reflect how a worldwide pandemic has changed us, and forced to the surface issues long in need of examination.

Brenda Buchanan is a lawyer and the author of the Joe Gale Mystery Series, featuring a diehard Maine newspaper reporter who covers the crime and courts beat. Three books—QUICK PIVOT, COVER STORY and TRUTH BEAT—are available everywhere e-books are sold.  These days Brenda’s hard at work on new projects.

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Crime Writers in Maine Libraries

Today we’re celebrating National Library Week by sharing some of our photos, and adventures, of events in Maine libraries. As our librarians know, libraries are writers’ favorite places, and we’ve been lucky enough to be invited to many of them to speak to readers about our writing, our process, and where we get our ideas. In the past few years, we’ve enjoyed presenting an audience participation event called “Making a Mystery” where a panel of writers from different corners of the mystery field use audience suggestions for character’s names, occupations, motives, weapons, and location of the crime to compose a mystery on the fly.

If we haven’t been to your library yet, why not? We can zoom. And hopefully, by summer, we’ll be able to meet again in person.

Happy National Library Week!

John Clark, Vaughn Hardacker, Maureen MIlliken and Brenda Buchanan talk mysteries, Maine and other stuff at the Thompson Library in Dover-Foxcroft July 14. (Diane Kenty picture)

Celebrating Carol Briggs retirement at the Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick



Dick Cass

Kate Flora, Barbara Ross and Brenda Buchanan did a joint panel at Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick in June, 2015.

Maureen Milliken at Guilford Library author fair in 2016


Brenda Buchanan, Kate Flora, Gerry Boyle and Lynne Raimondo, caught in the glow of late afternoon sunlight during a panel discussion during a Murder by the Book conference at the Jesup Memorial Library in Bar Harbor. Yes, those are bloody handprints on the window. The Jesup folks really get into the spirit of the event.

Maureen Milliken, my first talk in my hometown Belgrade Public Library in 2016.

Brenda Buchanan reading at the Popham Beach Library 2017

Dick and Ann Cass warm up the crowd before an August 2019 event at the Rangeley Public Library.

Murder by the Book, Jesup Library in Bar Harbor, 2016

Porter Memorial Library in Machias

Maine’s libraries are stunning spaces. It’s a pleasure to visit them and explore their nooks and crannies.

Here are photos of a few of those that have hosted Maine Crime Writers in recent years.

The wonderful Jesup Memorial Library in Bar Harbor, which each fall hosts a weekend-long crime writers conference called Murder By The Book.

The stacks at Winter Harbor’s magnificent library, a former Unitarian chapel.

The new library on Swan’s Island, which replaced a library that burned to the ground in the summer of 2008 after being hit by a bolt of lightning.

The historic Walker Memorial Library in Westbrook.

Brooklin’s stately Friend Memorial Library.

El;well Hall houses a library managed as a labor of love by committed volunteers on Great Diamond Island.

Most every Library has an associated group of volunteers, usually called the Friends of the Library.  They organize events, do outreach, sponsor additional programming for children and elders and raise money to supplement municipal appropriations.  Readers interested in getting involved in a community activity will look far to find a more welcoming group.

Maggie Robinson, Wanda Ann Thomas, and Michelle Libby at the Windham Public Library

Posted in Group Post, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Weekend Update: April 3-4, 2021

Next week at Maine Crime Writers there will be posts by Brenda Buchanan (Tuesday), Maggie Robinson (Thursday) and John Clark (Friday). On Monday we’ll have a group post on Crime Writers in Maine Libraries.

In the news department, here’s what’s happening with some of us who blog regularly at Maine Crime Writers:

Kate Flora: I’m happy to share the cover from Joe Burgess series, Book 7, A World of Deceitwhich debuts on April 20th:

For those of you who find it fun, we’ll be having another Where Would You Put the Body contest in May, so it’s time to dig out your cameras and start studying the landscape for interesting places. The results are always good fun.

Maine Crime Wave is a conference celebrating crime and mystery novels in Maine.

The 2021 Maine Crime Wave will be a half-day of panels, a keynote talk, a contest, and much more on Saturday, June 5 on Zoom. More details to come. Please stay tuned.

When held in person, the Maine Crime Wave offers craft workshops and panels with award-winning authors, a CrimeFlash contest, CrimePitch to top agents, 2 Minutes in the Slammer, and much more! The 2020 Maine Crime Wave was cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis, though we did hold Maine Crime Online, a free reading, Q&A, book-buying extravaganza, and celebration of the winners of the Two Minutes in Quarantine flash fiction contest.

Next week in National Library Week, and we begin the week with a post of Maine Crime Writers in Maine Libraries. Check it out on Monday.



An invitation to readers of this blog: Do you have news relating to Maine, Crime, or Writing? We’d love to hear from you. Just comment below to share.

And a reminder: If your library, school, or organization is looking for a speaker, we are often available to talk about the writing process, research, where we get our ideas, and other mysteries of the business. We also do programs on Zoom. Contact Kate Flora

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So What is the Book About?

Kate Flora: Something I have learned from more than thirty years at the keyboard is that my writing process is always evolving. It is also different for every book. When I wrote my first book—A Matter of the Will—which is one of those books that will always live in the drawer, I wrote the pieces that I knew. I wrote random chapters, then made an outline and wrote the pieces that connected them. Then I made a second outline of what still needed to be written to make those pieces into a book.

There are always those debates among writers about whether they are plotters, those who outline the book in advance, or pantsers, those who just start writing and fly by the seat of their pants. After my first misadventure with organizing a book, I became what I’ve always called “a cooker.” I get an idea, or a couple of ideas about the story, a character, an event, a question, and then I carry that around in my head for months, asking and answering questions about the story until I’m ready to write.

Usually, before I write the words “Chapter One” and begin, I will know many elements of the story. I will know who was killed, why they were killed, and how they were killed. I will know some of the clues I’ll leave at the crime scene that will lead to the answer. I will know who the killer is and who else wanted the victim dead. I will know something about the final scenes in which the detective, amateur or professional, solves the crime.

But sometimes this process doesn’t work. For my two ventures into true crime, the questions were different. I had to decided where the narrator would stand, what the voice of the story would be, and how to organize the vast amount of material I’d learned through research in a way that would result in a compelling story. When I collaborated with Roger Guay on his memoir, A Good Man with a Dog, I was working from hours and hours of interviews I’d done and transcribed, much of it random answers to question I asked as we drove the dirt roads in his old patrol area. My challenge was to find a way to organize all of his stories in a way that would tell a bigger story, the story of a life, of a career and a calling. In the process, I discovered that what had initially appeared to be a series of anecdotes about a warden’s dual jobs as protector of wildlife, and as a resource for finding lost people was a deeper story about the demands that career makes on those who choose it.

Recently, as I’ve branched out from series mysteries where I know my characters well, to stories with unknown characters, my approach to the stories has been very focused on learning who the books are about. As I’m writing, I constantly discovering things about my new characters and learning who they are and why they want me to tell their stories. So far, it’s a fascinating adventure as they reveal themselves to me.

My one venture in writing romance began with a single scene that suddenly appeared to me. A woman on the run from something, strung out and exhausted from driving, goes into a coffee shop early in the morning. She’s broke, so she orders coffee, thinking at least the cream and sugar will help. She goes to the ladies room and when she comes out, a strange man is sitting at her table. As she sits down, he says, “Smile, and pretend your glad to see me.” I had to know who she was and what she was running from. I had to know who he was and why he wanted her to pretend they knew each other. From that, I wove a story that eventually became Wedding Bell Ruse.

I spent much of 2019 and early 2020 delving into another character who suddenly appeared in my imagination and demanded my attention. This time, a cop named O’Leary sat down on a bar stool beside me and started to talk. His story was dark. He was damaged. And after we’d spent the better part of a year together, he’d become a book called The Darker the Night and caught a particularly vicious serial killer.

Now it is early April, 2021. Another damaged character has presented herself, occupied my mind for most of what I call “covid captivity” and Detective Samantha Warren has joined the cast of characters in my head in a book called Not What It Seems. As with Callie, in Wedding Bell Ruse and Rick O’Leary in The Darker the Night, I’ve spent many months learning who Sam Warren is and why she wants me to tell her story.

And somehow, the necessary words were found

In March, I decided to go light, have fun, and write a romance involving a kindergarten teacher, Sarah Jane (Sarey) Sullivan and her dog, Jocko. A hundred pages in, it looks like my characters are going to kidnap this book and turn it into something else. What else? What is the book about? Embarrassing to say, since I’m the author, but the answer is: I don’t know yet. I’m waiting for the characters and story to tell me.

The bottom line? What I’ve learned from all these books and short stories is to be flexible. To listen to the characters, let the story flow, and go with it, even if it’s different from your usual process. Even if it feels strange. Even if its in an area where you’ve never written before. Writing is never going to be something we master, that we’ve got knocked. It’s a trajectory that we’re on, and we’re always learning. Or it’s a wheel, and each time we go around the wheel, we go deeper, we learn more, we become better, we face new challenges, but it’s always a process.

So if you ask me, regarding my current WIP, what it’s about? I don’t know yet, but I’m enjoying the journey that will tell me.

p.s. My new Joe Burgess debuts on April 20th. Here’s the cover:



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Cover Reveal

So here we are on April Fool’s Day, but I’m not kidding at all. Honest.

I’ve posted about my plans for a collection of essays before, (here and here). A big thank you goes out to everyone who took the time to comment and offer suggestions.

Since I was still pretty much stuck at home until we got our second Covid vaccination, I got right to work on that project. In addition to selecting the blogs to use and turning them into “essays” (mostly just tweaking here and there), there was a lot of proofreading to be done. Every time I’d think I’d caught all the typos and repetitious words, another would pop up. I won’t be so egotistical as to claim I found them all even now.


The fun part came in working with my cover designer and incorporating photographs I took into what you see here. Despite the title of the book, I didn’t want to give the impression that this was going to be a “dark” read, so you’ll notice, in particular, the man in the barrel and the cats.

Cover and manuscript ready, I headed over to Draft2Digital.com, the outfit I used for my other independently published titles, to start the process of launching an e-book edition of I Kill People for a Living into the world.

Here’s the official description of the book:

In this unique compilation of 115 essays written between 2011 and 2021, Kathy Lynn Emerson, author of over sixty traditionally-published books in a variety of genres and under several names, writes about everything from how to conquer the sagging middle of a work-in-progress to the adoption of  her current cat-in-residence. Other topics highlight eccentricities—her own, a few from her family tree, and those to be found in the rural Western Maine mountains where she lives. Best known for her cozy mysteries, written as Kaitlyn Dunnett, and for historical mysteries written under her own name, Kathy Lynn Emerson has also been published in non-fiction, including the award-winning How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries.

There will be a print-on-demand edition eventually, but those take longer. In fact, the POD edition of my YA novel, Someday (mentioned in the last group blog) has been delayed because of computer communication problems between Draft2Digital and the printer/distributor. All I can tell you is that they’re working on it. Patience is not one of my virtues, but I hope the wait will be worth it.

In the meantime, as of yesterday, I Kill People for a Living is available as an e-book at all the usual online booksellers. Here’s a link that should work: https://books2read.com/u/47NlRj. The ISBN is 978-1-393-33251-0 and it’s priced at $5.99, which I hope folks will find reasonable. There was a slight delay with Amazon because the original (free) blogs here at Maine Crime Writers were still accessible. I had to delete them from “Kaitlyn’s Posts” before the Kindle edition could be published.

One more thing before you go. If you do buy the book, an online review would be much appreciated. More reviews equate to higher placement on searches. Every little bit helps!

Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett has had sixty-three books traditionally published and has self published several children’s books and two works of nonfiction. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. Her next publication (as Kaitlyn) is the fourth book in the contemporary “Deadly Edits” series (Murder, She Edited), in stores in August 2021. As Kathy, her most recent book is a standalone historical mystery, The Finder of Lost Things. She maintains websites at www.KaitlynDunnett.com and www.KathyLynnEmerson.com. A third, at A Who’s Who of Tudor Women, is the gateway to over 2300 mini-biographies of sixteenth-century Englishwomen, now available in e-book format.

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