Crime Writing and the Grandmaster

Going to go a little inside baseball on this topic, but when something wakes me up in the middle of the night, I know it’s something I need to write about. And since I have no facility at all for the short forms of Twitter and other social media, the blog gets lucky. Maybe.

In November, the Mystery Writers of America (MWA) announced it was awarding its Grandmaster Award, one of its more prestigious honors, to Linda Fairstein, who used to work in the Manhattan district attorney’s office. As head of the Sex Crimes Unit there, Fairstein led the case of five black teenagers accused of raping a white woman in Central Park in 1989. In fact, Fairstein was accused of helping to secure false confessions that suppported the prosecution’s case. The Central Park Five served years in prison before their convictions were vacated by DNA evidence and the confession of the actual rapist.

After the announcement, crime writer Attica Locke, whose Bluebird, Bluebird won the 2018 Edgar award for Best Novel (an award also administered by the MWA), tweeted the following:

As a member and 2018 Edgar winner, I am begging you to reconsider having Linda Fairstein serve as a Grand Master in next year’s awards ceremony. She is almost singlehandedly responsible for the wrongful incarceration of the Central Park Five.

See the full tweet thread here.

Two days later, Mystery Writers of America withdrew the award, saying that it had been unaware of Fairstein’s role in the Central Park Five case. End of story? Not hardly.

In a somewhat delayed reaction to the controversy, several well-known members of the crime writing community took the MWA to task for its reaction. Otto Penzler, owner of the Mysterious Bookshop in New York City, called the retraction “cowardly and reprehensible” and withdrew his invitation to a party at the bookshop for the incoming MWA board, saying they were no longer welcome there. See his full letter here.

Sounds like a reaction worthy of our petulant President? Penzler’s staff at the bookstore repudiated his ranting letter thus:

Nelson deMille, a long-time writer of thrillers, weighed in as well. His main argument seems to be (I haven’t seen his entire letter) that the MWA board should have known Fairstein was involved with the case since it was so widely reported and that the whole thing was, essentially, a case of political correctness run amok.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of hearing people blame political correctness for their personal inability to recognize that there are more skin colors in the world than one, more genders than two, and so on and so on. Mr. deMille also encouraged members to boycott the annual Edgar Awards, an interesting suggestion for someone who makes such a point of his long support for the organization.

Barbara Peters, who owns a well-regarded crime fiction bookstore in Arizona and a crime fiction press, resigned from MWA, criticizing Attica Locke for using her Edgar award as a “bully pulpit” to raise the questions about Fairstein. This conveniently ignores that Penzler, who controls the publication of numerous crime fiction anthologies, and Peters herself, as a book publisher and owner of an important venue for writers selling books, are also leveraging their own powers, considerably weightier than that of a single, albeit well-awarded, writer. Peters used terms like “cyberbullying” and “caving to the mob” to describe what happened, as if she were not also trying to use her status in the crime fiction world as a lever.

First of all, let it be said that I am male, white AF, and old enough to: well, you get the idea. I am also thoroughly disgusted by the reactions of these insiders. Their arguments against the MWA decision (not, tellingly, arguments in favor of Fairstein’s award) amount to something like: “you kids just don’t play the game right.”

Well, old-timers, I’m here to tell you the game has changed. In case you haven’t been watching, the world has changed around you. The high school in my small city in Maine hosts a thousand students who represent 43 countries and speak 36 languages. I see them on the streets when I go out to lunch and I love the colors of their voices, the musicality of their presence in my days, so different than when I went to high school.

But I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and not try and claim that your reaction is racially-tinged. It most certainly is privilege-tinged. All three of you have been operating in the center of this tiny inbred world of ours for so long that you’ve forgotten to look outside your own windows. You don’t see that some of our best writing is coming from places you don’t even know exist, people your blinders don’t let you see. I’d list some for you but I’d leave out too many deserving ones and I don’t want to betray the extent of my own ignorance. But at least I’m aware that I’m ignorant.

I’m sure you can point to writers you’ve championed who weren’t white or male, but the point is not checking boxes. The point is opening the doors of this MWA tent to everyone who wants to come in, not just everyone you approve of or recognize. And this means developing some sensitivity to the concerns of people who are not Just Like You.

The fact is your reactions bespeak a certain fading remnant of how publishing works—New York-centric, for a start, and much more interested in a writer’s ability to market him- or herself than in how well they tell a story or reflect our culture. (I would wager it’s easier for a black Nigerian to get published in this country than a black American.) One of the odd facts about this hoo-haw is that Linda Fairstein may write best-sellers, but her books are mediocre purveyors of character and story. I can name you ten crime writers in a ten-mile radius of my house who write better stories and, without straining, I could also list a dozen writers more deserving of a Grandmaster award.

But I’m not here to lament the weirdness of the publishing world. As our most recently rehabilitated political personality used to say: “wouldn’t be prudent.” The attitude of people on the inside of the crime writing world who don’t understand the insult of awarding an honor to someone whose work insulted those outside the in-group is absolutely typical of this country and this time. Look at our elected officials, local, state, and national, and tell me there isn’t a ton of education that needs to be done in terms of what the faces of our world look like. I would invite Mr. Penzler, Mr. deMille, and Ms. Peters to step a long ways outside the small circles they’ve drawn around themselves and open their eyes. And prepare themselves for the change that is already here.

Further reading:

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Let Me Share Some Bad Advice

Kate Flora: As we enter another writing year, and may be making New Year’s photo-89resolutions which include finally writing that book you’ve always dreamed of writing, I am here to help you along on your journey, by sharing pieces of advice I’ve gotten over the years which have proved singularly unhelpful. I share them as a warning against the world of writing advice with this caveat: Some of them may work for you.




  1. If something you’ve written in your work-in-progress makes you cry when you pen dripping inkreread it, excise it, cut it, leave it out. This is something I totally disagree with. I have some bits in books I’ve written over the years that still make me cry when I reread them. It just may be that there’s nothing wrong with powerful emotion in our books. If you have a section you’re worried about because someone has given you the advice above, try it out on a few beta readers and see if they think it should be cut.
  2. If you don’t know how to write, it’s necessary to take several writing classes and read lots of writing books. I think here the answer is: not quite. I love teaching, and yes, it helps to learn some craft and spend time in classes where you can get feedback from instructors and other students. But there is a downside–the risk that you will fill your head so full of advice about what the rules are (rules that often vary from one instructor to another) that you lose any ability to be spontaneous. There’s also the risk that you won’t be discovering yourself as writer. You won’t be developing a practice to get your writing done. You may be so wedded to prompts and assignments that you aren’t listening to your own imagination, exploring your own individual creativity, or learning what parts of the writing craft actually enchant you.
  3. Don’t write a word until you’ve written an outline. Not necessarily. If you’re a magnifying glassperson who can’t tackle a project without an outline or some signposts to guide you along the way, then yes, do an outline. It doesn’t have to be the kind we learned in 6th grade. But may writers aren’t plotters but pantsers, and love the excitement of discovery that comes with waiting to find out what happens next. See advice in 2, above. You have to actually write for a while to discover what kind of a writer you are.
  4. You should pick a writer whose style you admire, and learn to initiate that. See my comments above. Learning to distinguish the elements of particular styles can give you tools in your writer’s tool box to choose from, but slavish imitation, sometimes unaware imitation, will come between you and the writer you’re meant to be.
  5. Don’t worry if you don’t have an idea today, write only when the spirit movesScreen Shot 2019-01-02 at 4.20.51 PM you, the muse appears, you’re inspired by a great idea. Nope. Despite the fact that we’re surrounded by those people who say, “I always wanted to write, but I tried it once and it was hard,” the truth is that writing is hard, but writers go to their desks and write on the days when their heads ache, when they’d rather rub themselves with sandpaper, when it seems like everything they write is gravel. Writing is a job–often a great job, but still a job, and so we go to work. This means you will be there, at your desk, fingers curled over the keys, at the magic moment when the fluttery little muse deigns to visit and whisper words in your ear. When you suddenly get into a flow so exhilarating you can hardly catch your breath. But we earn those moments by spending time with gravel.
  6. Read all the bestsellers in the genre you plan to write in, and then write a book like that. It’s sure to sell. Alas, although it’s true that agents and editors always think they want a book just like the last bestseller, only different, by the time you’ve spent a year writing that book, there will be a new new thing and your book will be yesterday’s news. You’re much better off writing the story that enchants you, that matters to you, that you can immerse yourself in. There’s no guarantee you’ll sell that one, either, but at least the journey will have been a good one.

I could go one and on, but that’s enough for today. Don’t be discouraged. Writing is hard, sometimes brutally hard. It’s also magical, and so addictive that even when the books don’t sell, or don’t sell well, we don’t give up. And my one piece of advice, learned the hard way through ten years in the unpublished writer’s corner: Be stubborn. Be your own best cheerleader. While it’s true that rarely will someone knock on your door and demand the chance to publish your novel, only you get to decide that you’re a writer.


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Taking Stock

Happy New Year, everyone. Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here, starting 2019 the way I always do, by going back over the records I’ve kept during the previous year. Yesterday, I set up a tray table in the living room and watched the Rose Parade while tallying business income and expenses for 2018. I also recorded a few additional totals, such as how many books I read—one hundred and forty-one. Some were for research, but the majority were for pleasure.

Why do I do this, other than the fact that I’ll eventually need most of those numbers in order to file my income tax? The short answer is that it gives me a sense of how much (or how little) I’ve accomplished and what my goals ought to be for the coming year.

Sadly, it also told me that I earned less than I once did, although still considerably more than I made when I first committed to being a full-time writer. Could I live on my income from writing alone? Maybe, but not very well. I’m above the official poverty level, but not by a whole lot. In case you’re wondering, that’s $12,140 for an individual and $16, 460 for a two person household. I’ve been writing since 1976, with the occasional part-time job in the lean years. For most of those . . . well, let’s just say it’s a good thing I had (and still have) a spouse with health insurance.

The more pertinent question every year is whether or not I was able to pay all my writing expenses from my writing income. The answer to that one for 2018, thank goodness, was yes. That hasn’t always been the case, either.

I’ve never added up the total number of hours it took me to write a specific book, although I do daily tallies in my Brownline Planner. For the majority of fifty-nine traditionally published books, however, I think I can safely say that if I were to divide the total advance and royalties earned to date by the total time spent on research, writing, and promoting a given book, I wouldn’t come close to having earned the minimum wage.

Sitting down once a year to evaluate statistics keeps me grounded. I suppose if I weren’t an optimist at heart, I might be discouraged by my failure in 2018 to A) earn a lot of money, B) make a bestseller list, or C) win an award. The thing is, I can’t not write. The ideas keep coming. Characters demand their voices. Plot twists beg to be explored. What I take away from this annual exercise is that I’m still hanging in there as a working midlist author. As long as people keep reading my books, I’ll keep writing them. And, at tax time, there’s a bonus. As long as I show even a miniscule profit, I can claim almost any book or DVD I buy as “research” and deduct it as a business expense. That always makes me happy.

Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett is the author of nearly sixty traditionally published books written under several names. 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. Currently she writes the contemporary Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries (Overkilt) and the “Deadly Edits” series (Crime & Punctuation) as Kaitlyn and the historical Mistress Jaffrey Mysteries (Murder in a Cornish Alehouse) as Kathy. The latter series is a spin-off from her earlier “Face Down” mysteries and is set in Elizabethan England. Her most recent collection of short stories is Different Times, Different Crimes. Her websites are and and she maintains a website about women who lived in England between 1485 and 1603 at

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Dear Readers! We Have a Thank You and a Gift …

Dear Maine Crime Writers’ readers,

At the start of 2019, we’d like to thank you for your for your engagement and feedback and love of mysteries, thrillers, and crime fiction.

Thank you!

So, From Maine Crime Writers to YOU … please accept a free Kindle copy (or perhaps an actual, physical book) of one of our mysteries.

We’ve made it easy. Just read the various author invitations, choose one, and click on the email link you find in the invitation. (Of course our books will go out to early responders as we still have to keep the lights on and buy pet food, so don’t delay! Chose your favorite writer or get to know another author. (Supplies are limited.)

Email your name with a subject line of “mcw gift.” That’s it! We’ll have your Kindle mystery sent to you.

(If you’d rather gift the Kindle mystery to friend or family, send your name and that special person’s name, email, and maybe a brief message we can pass along. Like this: “Liz, think you will enjoy this mystery! Your mom.”)

We so appreciate your enthusiasm for our stories of mayhem, tangled relationships, revenge, criminal behavior, and Maine settings we love to color with more trouble than they deserve.

Thank You!


Author Sandra Neily: I am so grateful for readers who’ve loved this mystery and its mix of illegal wolves, a wayward retriever, a middle-aged female narrator unafraid of Maine’s deep north woods and lots of unpredictable wildlife. Named a 2018 Maine Literary Award finalist and reviewed as “… a beautiful book that brilliantly captures the battle to conserve Maine’s mythical woods… ,” Deadly Trespass, can now be yours. With a subject line of “mcw gift,” please email your name (or your name, recipient’s name & email) to


Author Lea Wait: For anyone who hasn’t checked out my Shadows Antique Print series, this is the time to read the first in the series, Shadows at the Fair, for free! It introduces antique print dealer and community college professor Maggie Summer, who is attending a weekend antiques fair in New York State. A little like Agatha Christie’s house parties in the country, there is a murder …. and then another murder .. and both must be solved before all the dealers pack up and leave late afternoon Sunday. Send your email address to me at, and I’ll get the e-book out to you! After all — everyone needs something new to read in the New Year! Happy 2019! Sorry – no requests after January 1. Author Susan Vaughan: I’m so grateful to my readers who’ve made ALWAYS A SUSPECT the bestseller of all my romantic suspense novels. Here’s a short blurb. Persecuted widow Claire Saint-Ange thinks the P.I. she hired is her defender, here to clear her name and protect her from anonymous threats, but instead he was sent to this coastal Maine town to uncover her darkest secrets—and maybe put her behind bars. Federal agent Michael Quinn thinks she’s a criminal, but her gentle soul and passion make him long to believe in her innocence. If you would like a free Kindle copy, email your name with a subject line of “mcw gift” to by Jan. 5, and I’ll draw 2 names.

Author Maureen Milliken: The best thing about being a writer? People reading your books, of course. I’m also committed to portraying the great state of Maine, as well as the life of a journalist, in a way that those who are familiar will say “Right!” and those who aren’t will understand. My Bernie O’Dea mystery series takes place in Maine’s Franklin County, where protagonist Bernie O’Dea owns and operates a weekly newspaper. I’m offering a copy of my first book, COLD HARD NEWS, to those who may not be familiar with the series. I’m also offering a copy of the third in the series, BAD NEWS TRAVELS FAST, released in October, to those who may have read the first two, but haven’t read the third yet. Please email me at with “mcw gift and either CHN or BNTF” to receive a free Kindle copy of one or the other. Deadline on the offer is midnight Jan. 1 EST — once the clock chimes Jan. 2 in Maine, no more free books! Thanks for reading!

Author Barbara Ross: Until midnight January 1, 2019 only.  I have a brand new book out and it’s time to celebrate! Send me an email at barbaraross at maineclambakemysteries dot com with “mcw gift” in the subject line and I’ll send you a kindle copy of Steamed Open, the latest Maine Clambake Mystery. (I’m traveling, so you won’t get it until evening.)

“Honestly this is the best culinary cozy series on the market today,” Criminal Element

It’s summertime in Busman’s Harbor, Maine, and the clamming is easy—or it was until a mysterious new neighbor blocks access to the beach, cutting off the Snowden Family Clambake’s supply. Julia Snowden is just one of many townspeople angered by Bartholomew Frick’s decision. But which one of them was angry enough to kill?

Author Brenda Buchanan: If you haven’t met Joe Gale yet, here’s an opportunity dig in to my Maine mystery series featuring a contemporary newspaper reporter with old-school style.

I’ve published three Joe Gale books: Quick Pivot (a body found during the 2014 renovation of a historic mill re-opens a cold case that stunned Riverside, Maine in 1968), Cover Story (a dead-of-winter murder trial way down east puts Joe in the crosshairs when his stories don’t match the pre-trial narrative) and Truth Beat (the suspicious death of a priest who stood up for victims of the sexual abuse scandal rocks a community and its leaders.)

Before midnight on January 1, 2019, please email your name and the title of your choice with a subject line of “I want to meet Joe Gale” to  If you read ebooks on a format other than Kindle, please let me know.

Author Richard Cass: Read the first in the Elder Darrow jazz mystery series, In Solo Time, which won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction in 2018. The first three readers to send me email at with the subject line: Elder Darrow receive a free Kindle version of In Solo Time.

Note: All copies claimed! Thanks for playing . . .

If you’ve already read In Solo Time, the next two books in the series are Solo Act (Finalist for the 2017 Maine Literary Award in Crime Fiction) and Burton’s Solo. Thanks!

I wish all readers of this blog a happy and healthy 2019.


Author Kate Flora: I would love to introduce a new reader to my Joe Burgess police procedural series, a gritty series set in Portland, Maine featuring a trio of Portland police detectives. Two lucky readers will receive kindle copies of Playing God, the debut book in the series. And since we’re having so much fun gifting our books to our faithful readers, and since I’m crazy about the cover of this book, someone who asks nicely will receive a physical copy of Careful What You Wish For, my new crime story collection. (Send your requests to: Until midnight January 1, 2019 only.) Happy New Year and Happy Reading!



EDFF6297-AFFD-44FF-903F-25D3FA75D810Author Joseph Souza: How about this. I’ll give two lucky readers a signed paperback of my upcoming psychologixal thriller, PRAY FOR THE GIRL (Kensington)  It’s set in Maine and stars chef and veteran, Lucy Abbott It doesn’t come out until April, and only two readers will get this advance copy. I guarantee you’ll be shocked at the stunning twists in this novel. Lucy returns to Fawn Grove, Maine after cooking in Manhattan for fifteen years, only to discover that an immigrant Afghani girl has been stoned to death. Lucy, who knows something about hiding secrets, must confront a truth more brutal than she ever imagined, in the last place she expected. To be considered to win a paperback email me at and provide me your physical mailing address. The winners will be randomly chosen from the readers entering. Have a healthy and Happy New Year. Until midnight January 6th only.

D4B804D1-7420-46B1-A4D9-CBED22A7E19EAuthor Bruce Robert Coffin: Wishing all of you a safe and happy 2019. In celebration of the new year I will be gifting three of our lucky followers with a free Kindle copy of Among the Shadows, the debut novel in my bestselling Detective Byron Mystery Series. If you like to be considered, email me at: on January 1st, 2019. Please include your name and email address in the body of the email along with “mcw gift” in the subject line. Three winners will randomly be chosen from all eligible entries. Good luck and thank you for following us at Maine Crime Writers!


Author Vaughn C. Hardacker. To all a prosperous 2019 filled with reading your favorite Maine Crime Writers. In keeping with the rest of us, I will gift 2 Kindle copies of my first Ed Traynor novel, Black Orchid. The second in the series, My Brother’s Keeper, will be released on July 2, 2019 and is available now for pre-order. To be considered email me at The winners will be randomly chosen from the readers entering. Have a healthy, safe, and Happy New Year! (Until midnight January 1, 2019 only.)


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Happy New Year! Goals and Resolutions

Lea Wait here. As the years roll by I suspect we all have our lists of things we’d like to do. Our “bucket lists,” as the movie called them. The most organized of us have even written them down. (“Spend New Year’s Eve in Paris.” check. “Finish reading War and Peace.” check.) I’ll admit … I’m one of those people who make resolutions (I call them goals) at the beginning of each year. In my most organized years I even broke them down by quarters, and by months.

Was I able to cross off those goals? Usually – some of them. And reading them over during the year did help me focus on what was really important.

When my children were still children, one of our family jokes were my repeated bits of wisdom. One of those they particularly hated was “keep your options open.” I basically meant … even if you hate your job/guy/class/place/boss … don’t diss it (or them). You never know when for some reason having made a graceful exit will help you out. I also meant “don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.” Maybe you really WILL hate fried octopus. But if you haven’t tasted it … how will you really know? Be brave.

OK. I still believe those things. (Within reason on the “try everything” list. My kids got me on that one a couple of times. No, I didn’t mean try every drug on the street or surf Big Sur the first time you’re on a surf board.)

But I digress.

Back to those years rolling by. At this point in my life I know there are some things I have never done – and don’t need to do. No, I’m not including major career choices (although I’ll never be a surgeon or maestro or ballerina, true). But there are some things I’m very happy to announce will never be on my list of “have dones.”  Some I’ve contemplated in the past, some I never have. But – at this point – realism has set in. There are too many other things I want to do, and too little time remaining, to worry about these.

For example: here are things I’ve never done, never will do – and don’t care.

– sky dived  or parachute jumped or bungee jumped. (There’s a theme here.)

– attended a bull-fight.

– gotten a tattoo.

– done jello shots.

– owned a motorcycle.

– driven a shift car.  Successfully.  (OK – should have learned; tried once. I’m not worrying about it anymore.)

– learned plumbing or wiring or roofing, even for my own abode. (Paint, wallpaper, building a bookcase – those are more my speed.)

– been a waitress or flight attendant or joined the military. (admittedly, age is an issue for 2 of these occupations, and knowing how many things I drop in my own kitchen – at this point the world is safer with my finding jobs other than waitressing should I seek out paid employment)

– mud-wrestled.

– sexted anyone.

– pierced anything on my body other than my ears.

– eaten anything that is still alive.

– run in a marathon. (I fantasize sometimes, and have decided this is one fantasy that even Walt Disney couldn’t make happen.)

– hunted either birds or animals. (Or people, for that matter. Law enforcement, public or private, I’ll do vicariously, thank you very much, through my books.)

– earned a pilot’s license. (A fantasy of youth.)

– skied water or down-hill.  And at this point I guess I should add cross-country.

– ridden on a roller coaster.

–  bred parakeets.  (Another dream of childhood.)

–  cultivated a large enough garden to “live off the land.”

–  read every book in the library. (My goal in second grade. Some days I wonder whether I’ll even read my way through every book in my to-be-read bookcases.)

I could keep going, but, instead, I’ll throw the question out to you.  What have you never done … and never will do?

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Weekend Update: December 29-30, 2018

Next week at Maine Crime Writers, there will be posts by Lea Wait (Monday), A Special New Year’s Post (Tuesday) Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett (Wednesday) Kate Flora (Thursday), and Dick Cass (Friday).

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

On Saturday, January 5, 2019 Brenda Buchanan will be in Washington, D.C. for a reading and panel discussion about LGBT crime fiction with John Copenhaver and Cheryl Head, moderated by Sisters In Crime President Sherry Harris. The event begins at 6 p.m. at East City Books, 645 Pennsylvania Avenue SE. It would be wonderful to see some readers of this blog who live in or around D.C. or have reason to be there next weekend.


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. Contact Kate Flora

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Here’s to 2019

Dorothy Cannell: I had a wonderful Christmas and do not intend to dim the glow with Screen Shot 2018-12-27 at 4.47.37 PMNew Year resolutions.  Self-improvement is not tantalizing.  It’s a slog that shouldn’t be turned into a holiday event, one that doesn’t even get the benefit of a Hallmark card.  Still, I do like to make lists.  So I’ll produce one of do’s and ‘don’ts for female fictional beings in mystery novels.  In particular for those poor dears that the vicious author has destined to be put in danger and expected to get out of it with only a mild concussion and an alluring bandage.  This is a cut throat business.  And you’ve become the prey of a nasty minded person who for some reason has taken against you in a big way.  Really, it’s just too sad!  The attractive male detective can’t be relied upon to believe your harrowing tale of the faceless stalker.  He’s abstracted by his poetry writing, his passion for Bach, his failed attempts to reconcile with his ex-wife, and his resentment of being shuffled off to a small town.

  1. Don’t trust anyone, including the detective.Your curiously strong likeness to the ex-wife may have unleashed a torment that has led to his wishing he’d entered a monastery. Thus his nightly wanderings in a dark robe with the cowl drawn around his face.
  2. Realize that if you are to have a love interest it won’t be with someone named Cecil or Claude, those are invariably dull, portly and balding types with stuffy jobs. So don’t waste too much dialogue time with them beyond the possible slipped clue moments. It isn’t fair, but that’s the way it is.  You may end up clasped in the arms of a Bill or Mike, though more likely it will be an Aiden or Jonathan.  But never a Cecil or a Claude.
  3. Acknowledge that your employer, the wealthy tycoon, is not the darkly brooding type because he has chronic indigestion.Consider the possibility that he came by his millions after the demise of his partner in a boating accident – on a very calm lake. Then find a reason to believe him innocent of having arranged the death.
  4. At some point after you’ve had a few near misses with The Grim Reaper you need to start pondering what there is about you that has so severely ticked someone off. What do you know, or not know, about him or her that that could make murder a handy way out. Or maybe there’s something you don’t know about yourself.  Perhaps you’re the real heir to the tycoon’s millions.  Wouldn’t that be nice, if you could live to splash out?
  5. If you agree to meet someone in response to a muffled voice phone call on the promise you won’t tell anyone where you are going, you’ll need your reasoning to be credible. You thought you recognized the voice, believed it was a cry for help from someone you cared about. You’ll also have to admit you acted stupidly, otherwise the reader may hope the author does let you get murdered.
  6. Accept the possibility that you could be for the chopper. Unless you’re on the page first person you never can tell. Of course if you have an undercover police officer delving into the tycoon’s past and present, you could be in line for a promotion – to series main character.

That’s it for from me for 2018.

Happy reading,


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