So You Want to Write a Book – Part 4 Ready for Take Off!

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” 

~ Toni Morrison

Welcome back to So You Want to Write a Book!

Remember that notebook? It’s time to pull it out and review our progress. We’ve spent the past few months talking about prep work: defining the type of book, getting to know your genre, and creative brainstorming about your books. Now, it’s time to start moving forward with the actual writing.

We like to think about writing a book as a journey and step four is where you take off into the unknown. Sound scary? It’s not really. Your bags (okay, actually your notebook and your brain) are packed with all kinds of helpful information and you are ready!

But before you take off it’s important to know how you’re going to travel. Have you heard of plotters and pantsers? How about plansters? Basically, most writers fall into one of these three categories. There are the pantsers who write “by the seat of their pants” and plan very little. Then there are the plotters who plan their book before they write it. And finally, there are the plansters who are a combination of the other two and do a little of both. So which are you? It’s simple to determine. Consider the three options and determine your comfort level with each and bingo! That’s you. (At least for this project anyway. The more you write the more you’ll begin forming your own individual writing style.)


If you’re a pantser, this is it. Go! Get writing. You may have to occasionally pull out that notebook to remind you of where you’re going but just keep moving forward. Write, write, write.


Plotters, you’ve got a little more prep before you take off. There are several plotting methods, and we won’t detail them all but here’s our top 7. Find the one that you think will work for you and try it out. Make adjustments to the method as you like. This step is simply getting down the story route from beginning to end.

  1. Synopsis Approach – An overview of the story from beginning to end with the hook, inciting incident, plot points, and resolution.
  2. Detailed Outline – Used to create an outline of major plot points, summary of each chapter, and a detailed scene list.
  3. Snowflake Method – Developed by author and physicist, Randy Ingermanson, where you start small, then build your story.
  4. Story Grid – Created by editor Shawn Coyne using problem-solving methodology and most useful on 2nd drafts but can be used for an initial work plan.
  5. Three-Act Structure – Tried and true this method can be more or less detailed depending on your writing style and it works great for most genre fiction.
  6. The Hero’s Journey or Heroine’s Journey – In his book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell broke down the 17 steps of the hero’s journey. We’ve also recently read Gail Carriger’s The Heroine’s Journey and would recommend taking a look at it.
  7. Writing from the Middle or sometimes referred to as In Medias Res – James Scott Bell, an award winning and best-selling author explains it well in his book, Write Your Novel from the Middle.


If you’re a combination of the two, meaning you like to plan a little and then write forward. There may be some of our favorite methods that seemed appealing to you. Try them out, use what works, and maybe even do a mash-up of the parts that inspire you.


If you’re writing non-fiction, we didn’t forget about you! Here are a couple of methods that you might find helpful.

  1. Mind mapping Author Rick Lauber shares outlining tips on the Writer’s Digest website.
  2. Scribe Book Outline walks you through the same process they use with their authors on how to outline a book.

The main thing is –  it’s time to get moving!

Next month, we’ll talk about bumps in the road and how to deal with them. Until then, happy writing!

sparkle and abbey

Sparkle Abbey is actually two people, Mary Lee Ashford and Anita Carter, who write the national best-selling Pampered Pets cozy mystery series. They are friends as well as neighbors so they often get together and plot ways to commit murder. (But don’t tell the other neighbors.)

They love to hear from readers and can be found on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest, their favorite social media sites. Also, if you want to make sure you get updates, sign up for their newsletter via the website

Clicking Our Heels – A Day at the Movies

Clicking Our Heels – A Day at the Movies

The past few weeks have been so hot that people have been looking for air-conditioned places to hang out – like movie theaters. In our personal lives, we each have favorite movies and television shows with varied reasons we like them. As authors, we think about movie, television, and other visual media from the perspective of how it impacts our writing. Here’s what members of the gang think:

T.K. ThorneAs Good as It Gets with (Jack Nicholas and Helen Hunt). The characters and dialogue are so amazing, that I hunted down the script and studied it. I hope it impacted my writing!

Kathryn Lane –  Gone With the Wind – I’m a hopeless romantic! In my writing, I want readers to feel they are in that location with my protagonist – a concept surely influenced by television!

Meri Allen/Shari Randall – It’s too hard to pick one! I’m in love with the classics, everything from The Thin Man to Singin’ in the Rain. Movies and television have definitely impacted my writing. Any art that a writer comes into contact with becomes (consciously or unconsciously) part of their tool kit. I feel I’ve been influenced by everything from Murder, She Wrote to Fargo.

Donnell Bell – I love Overboard, the Goldie Hawn. Kurt Russell version. Dave, an American President (guess I’m a dreamer that politics can have a happy ending.) I saw there’s a sequel to Top Gun coming out where Tom Cruise plays the Tom Skerrit flight training character, and Val Kilmer who played Iceman recommends Cruise character for the flight trainer. I would definitely go see that. I loved Hidden Figures, In The Heat of the Night in honor of Sydney Poitier’s passing. Clearly, I haven’t seen a new release in so long!

Debra H. Goldstein – My favorite movies is Giant. Besides having Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, and a cast of well-seasoned and then newbies who now are well-known, the way social issues are interwoven with the landscape and language makes me watch it anytime I find it on TV.

Lynn McPherson – I love Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Knives Out. My favorite thing about each of these films is the characters. They are a big reminder for me that great characters are essential for great books!

Debra Sennefelder – Tough question. I really don’t have a favorite movie. Movies/televisions shows can spark an idea for a plotline, location or character. Inspiration is everywhere.

Dru Ann LoveGone With The Wind.

Lois Winston – It’s too hard to choose one, so I’m going to break the rules: The Greatest ShowmanLaLa LandCasablanca, and Shakespeare in Love (not necessarily in that order.)

Linda Rodriguez – It could be one of many, but at this moment, I would say my favorite movie is The Only Good Indian, with the fabulous Wes Studi. It’s a well-researched historical movie, set at the horrible residential boarding school, which became the university at which my son teaches.

Saralyn Richard – I’m a movie buff with many favorites, but since I can only name one, I’ll say, Casablanca. That movie has it all–great dialogue, superb acting, brisk pacing, and the right amount of ambiguity to keep audiences intrigued and enchanted. Casablanca and other movies deeply impact my writing process. When I write, my characters take their places on the screen of my mind, and begin acting. All I have to do is type the cinematic scenes playing out before me.

The Cow Jumped Over the Moon by Lynn Chandler Willis

Back when my now-adult daughter was in kindergarten, I excitedly attended her first parent-teacher conference, anxious to hear the teacher’s impression of how hard I’d worked––um, I mean, how hard my daughter had worked at kindergarten preparation. She could spell, write, and read her first and last name, address, phone number, mom’s name, where her mom worked, etc…She knew her colors and shapes. She recognized the alphabet letters and numbers to 1000. Out of sequence. Okay, I might have exaggerated the numbers a little bit. I was not expecting her teacher to tell me my daughter was having trouble recognizing her farm animal sounds.

I smiled politely and said in my pearl-wearing, sweet tea drinking best southern drawl, “Oh my goodness! Well, we’ll work on that tonight.”

I left that elementary school seething. How dare that teacher say my child couldn’t recognize an oink from a moo and the animal it went with. My child. She knew her farm animal sounds as well as she knew her numbers. We had a See-N-Say at home.

A few days later, I was driving home from somewhere with my daughter strapped into her booster in the back seat. We passed a couple of farms along the way and I spotted some horses grazing in a pasture. I seized the teaching moment, or at least the moment to prove the teacher wrong, and said, “Look, Nina––what does the horsey say?”

My daughter happily waved to the horses and said a big ‘ol “Mooooo.”

Flash forward a few years and my now married daughter had her own baby. I had offered to babysit one day while Nina had to work and she was going to drop him off at my house on her way. All is fine until about 5:30 in the morning and I get that phone call no parent wants to get at that hour. I spring up in bed and grab the phone and Nina’s on the other line, crying, screaming, nearly hysterical and she shouts, “Mom, I had a wreck!”

My heart racing, I jump out of bed and quickly get dressed with the phone in the crook of shoulder and neck. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” she cries.

“What about the baby?”

“He’s fine, too.” More sniffles and gasps for breath, then, “We’re both ok but I think the cow’s dead.”

It took me a minute. I bit my tongue. I would not ask her if she was sure it was a cow.

I asked her where she was and told her that her brother and I would be there in a minute. We got to her about the same time the Highway Patrol did. In her defense, she was not speeding. It was still dark outside, rainy and cold and she was on a curvy, rural road and we don’t have street lights on rural roads around here. It turns out that one of the local farmer’s fence had fallen into disrepair and the bovine trekked across the street to greener pastures.

Except it wasn’t just one cow. It was a HERD of cows. A herd. A follow-the-leader line of cows crossing the road on a rainy, dark morning.

After she gave her report to the trooper, she turned to me, still crying, and said, “It was awful, momma. Cows were flying through the air like bowling pins.”

The trooper walked away at that point. I suspect he might have been laughing.

The Unpackables

By Barbara J Eikmeier

I was prepping a sheet pan for a dinner of oven roasted veggies when I ran out of non-stick spray. Shaking the container I didn’t hear or feel even a drop sloshing around in the can. In 38 years of marriage, I’ve rarely emptied a can of Pam. It isn’t that I don’t use it often, and it isn’t that the spray nozzle is notorious for breaking before it’s empty, although that has happened. It’s more about the amount in the can. It’s too much to use up in 2 years.

As a military family we moved often. When the crew came to pack our household goods and load the moving truck, they’d give us a list of things they wouldn’t pack. In the end there was a small cluster of bottles and cans left on the kitchen counter: Pam, vegetable oil, and Worcestershire sauce. Sometimes there was an opened bottle of tequila or whiskey among the unpackables. Hair spray and shaving cream were left in the bathroom. Charcoal lighter and briquettes were left on the patio. Sometimes we’d use the briquettes and throw some hot dogs on the grill to feed the movers. When they were gone, often after sunset, we would toast farewell to our former home with a margarita, or when lacking margarita mix, a shot of tequila, or when lacking a glass, we’d just pass the bottle. If our neighbors weren’t also moving (with their own box of unpackables to deal with) we would gift the last of our liquids to them. It is possible that the same bottle of Worcestershire sauce has been passed from house to house in the same neighborhood for many years. Maybe I should write a story from the Worcestershire bottle’s point of view! It could be my version of the Traveling Pants story!

In 2008 my husband retired from the Army. We haven’t moved since and recently celebrated 14 years in the same house where last winter I actually emptied a bottle of Worcestershire sauce – until then I didn’t know that it gets kind of icky near the bottom of the bottle. There were other unexpected things I learned when I stopped moving: Such as the need to wash curtains and clean the carpet every now and then.  And after a lifetime of absentee ballots I’ve been delighted to learn that the volunteers at my local polling station know me by name.

In a writing workshop an instructor taught a technique of zooming in on a small detail, then zooming back out to see what you can write about the detail.

While changing from a nomadic lifestyle to living in one place my perspective continues shifting – even 14 years later! As I’m zooming in, then zooming back out I notice small things in my environment – like the magnolia tree doesn’t bloom at the exact same time every year, and perennial flowers take years to get perfect – military wives prefer annuals because we don’t stay in one place long enough to see perennials mature. And an empty can of Pam doesn’t make any noise when you shake it.

In my writing I’m continuously working on character and point of view. Zooming in helps. If your character is moving, what’s left on their counter? What do the unpackables reveal about your character?

Barbara J. Eikmeier is a quilter, writer, student of quilt history, and lover of small-town America. Raised on a dairy farm in California, she enjoys placing her characters in rural communities.

Live Theater

   When I was a little girl, my mother made sure I was exposed to books, music, movies, and live theater. She explained these were important ways to learn about and experience culture. The lessons “took,” and my support for the arts cemented. My entire life I’ve been an avid consumer and patron of the arts. (In fact, one of my job titles for several years was Fine Arts Department Chair at Thornton Township High School.)
   Arguably, the least accessible of these forms of art is live theater, yet it is the most potent. I’m exhilarated every time the curtain rises, and I’m right there in the same room with the entertainers. Whether the show is a concert, a play, a comedy act, a dance troupe, acrobatics, or a visit with a celebrity, I’m enthralled by the talent and energy emanating from the stage.
   For me, the arts are what make civilization civilized. They spin the threads that connect people of all races, creeds, and nationalities, so much so that throughout history, tyrants have sought to subvert the arts. One need only look to a society’s artistic expressions to understand its heart.

   I’m proud to be a patron and supporter of The Grand 1894 Opera House in Galveston, Texas, my hometown. The Grand is one of America’s historic theaters. The building itself is a treasure. The art deco touches make the view from the stage, according to performer Michael Buble, “a veritable birthday cake.”
   The Grand’s new season opens on September 17 with Three Dog Night. The rest of the season is stellar, as well, with shows as diverse as Fiddler on the Roof, the music of Sam Cooke, Seong-Ji Cho pianist, and Jose Feliciano.
   I’ve served as program chair, executive board secretary, and president-elect of The Grand, and I’m excited to take the reins of the presidency next month. I’ll continue to work hard to keep our theater the vibrant hub of culture it is in our city, and to keep the arts alive in all communities across the globe. I hope you’ll do the same, and if you’re headed my way, let me know. I’ll send you information about The Grand!


Saralyn Richard is the author of five books, including Naughty Nana, Murder in the One Percent, A Palette for Love and Murder, A Murder of Principal, and Bad Blood Sisters. She loves connecting with readers and invites you to subscribe to her monthly newsletter via the website:

Saul Golubcow, author of the Frank Wolf and Joel Gordon Mysteries

by Paula Gail Benson

I began reading Saul Golubcow’s stories in the issues of Black Cat Weekly Mystery Magazine. His protagonist, Frank Wolf, survived the Holocaust with his daughter and resettled from Vienna, Austria, to New York City. In his earlier life, Frank was a scholar, but proof of his academic background was destroyed by Nazis. Unable to pursue a career as a professor, Frank became a security guard for a library. Then, eventually, he set up an office as a private detective.

Meanwhile, Frank’s daughter marries and has a son, Joel. When Frank’s daughter is widowed, Frank steps in to help raise Joel, who makes them both proud by attending law school in the 1970s.

So far, there are three Frank Wolf mysteries, now collected in The Cost of Living and Other Stories.

I enjoyed these stories so much that I wrote Saul a fan letter. He graciously responded and agreed to answer questions for posts here and on Writers Who Kill. Today, he tells us about his background and previous experience with writing. Next Monday, we’ll talk about his stories.


I can’t say I’m an up and coming young writer but rather a “been there” baby boomer ready to write. As a member of what is called the “Second Generation” child of Holocaust survivors, I was born in a Displaced Persons camp in Germany after the World War II and came to the United States when I was two. I don’t remember how I learned English, but I am told my first English words were “push me” when sitting on a swing at my cousin’s house in Brooklyn. But even though we did not speak English in our house when I was growing up on a poultry farm in South Jersey, I somehow at a very young age came to love the English language, its nuances, choreography, possibilities for expression and meaning (perhaps much like a musician who is drawn to sounds and rhythms). I was that one kid in sixth grade who loved sentence diagramming.

I cannot remember a time I wasn’t reading, and so I believe expression through language became a part of me waiting for the right time for it to come out. I dabbled in high school writing immature fiction and newspaper articles. In college at Rutgers, I wrote short stories for the literary magazine, and my writing was noticed by an English Department professor who was the editor of a prestigious literary journal (I won’t drop names). He encouraged me to tend bar in New York after graduation as a way of nurturing my writing. But I am not temperamentally a Hemingway, or Kerouac, or Mailer type of person. I might properly be called “the writer as a homebody.” For instance, I am now married 50 years and still love my wife. So I used the Vietnam War and draft as an excuse why I couldn’t follow his advice and, instead, went into VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America, the stateside Peace Corp) and served in the South Bronx (an experience as good as bar tending).

I then worked for a weekly newspaper before heading off to graduate school at SUNY-Stony Brook earning a doctorate in English Literature (I got to read voraciously with a payoff). I wrote my dissertation on “Baseball as Metaphor in American Fiction.” As I indicate in the “Acknowledgments” section of my book, “in graduate school, I had started to scope out stories about Jewish Holocaust survivors in the United States. I had wanted to offer my perspective on these extraordinary people who came with their shattered lives to this wonderful country and, somehow, emphasized living and the future despite the death and destruction they had experienced.” One such character was to be Frank Wolf, loosely based on the personality of my father-in-law. I put these notes away in a desk drawer thinking I would soon come back to them. It took 50 years, as life including raising two wonderful children happened. I taught university level English for three years before leaving teaching and entering the business world (mortgage also happened). During those decades I wrote “thought” pieces on various American and Jewish cultural issues that appeared in different local outlets.

After receiving my doctorate, I taught English courses in Western Pennsylvania at a Penn State University campus and at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. My wife Hedy was also an academic, and when she was offered a position at the University of Maryland teaching school psychology, we couldn’t turn down such an opportunity, so we moved. But at that time in the late 1970s, we were in the midst of hard economic times (stagflation) with few jobs opening in English. So I left academia to work (ala Wallace Stevens) in an insurance company as a project director (two children and a mortgage driven also). But I did enjoy my work and also did pro bono teaching of my beloved English grammar to customer service representatives whose enthusiasm and thirst for growth was wonderful. From time to time, I tried to write fiction, but I think the exigencies of work and home life did not allow me to create new worlds (and perhaps I still had more growing to do). So I wrote non-fiction opinion pieces which were much easier to construct. But when I retired, the opportunity to create opened to me, and I said, “It’s time.”

When I retired six years ago, my writings increased dramatically. But I wasn’t satisfied as regularly I would pass by that desk with the aging notes inside. Finally a few years ago, I opened the drawer, retrieved the notes, and felt I was ready to fulfill my younger days’ mission. I’m not sure having tended bar would have hastened the fictional output, but my own version of “bar tending,” living my life and growing up and becoming older made me more ready. So I started writing stories about Holocaust survivors in the United States, and when I published a short story with Frank Wolf as Holocaust survivor turned private detective, I wanted (and encouraged by readers) to keep writing about him.

Please join us next Monday when I ask Saul about his fiction. If you haven’t already discovered him, I’m sure you’ll want to add him to your “to be read” list!


New Website and New Book – Five Belles Too Many

New Website and New Book – Five Belles Too Many by Debra H. Goldstein

Wow! It doesn’t seem possible. After months of planning and Bethany’s expert manipulations behind the scenes, The Stiletto Gang has a new website home. I’m thrilled. Not only was Blogger (this one is Word Press based) becoming, at times, difficult to manage, it wasn’t being easily found in searches by you, our readers, our friends.

We hope you will find navigation of this site simple and will take the time to check out some of the new features we offer including pages about each author and the writer’s books. Poke around a bit. Check out the daily blog. Leave comments. Let us know what you think about our posts and the new website. Did you realize so many authors are members of the Stiletto Gang?

As an incentive to leave your thoughts on this blog post, I’m giving away a print copy of Four Cuts Too Many to one lucky poster (randomly selected – but U.S. only).

While you are reading this post, I’ll be doing something I haven’t done in quite some time — I’ll be at a writer’s conference, Sleuthfest. Sleuthfest, which is held in Florida, is one of my favorite conferences. It’s small, informative, and fun. Besides being on three panels while I am there, I’ll be promoting my new Sarah Blair book, Five Belles Too Many, which came out this past week. This time, Sarah is chaperoning Mother Maybelle, who is a finalist in a reality show contest to win the perfect Southern wedding. Not only are there conflicts between the contestants, but when the producer is found dead, with Sarah’s greatest nemesis, Jane, leaning over the body, Sarah is faced with a dilemma. Help clear Jane’s name or take a chance that another crew or cast member is permanently eliminated? Here are the buy links for Five Belles Too Many (plus don’t forget your favorite indie bookstore either has it or can get it for you).



Weekend with Friends by Dru Ann Love

by Dru Ann Love

Every year me and two of my friends plan a weekend getaway. We’ve been to Boston, Denver, Savannah, and most recently Memphis and Tennessee. Whatever is our destination, I always look to see if I have any author friends in the area and plan a lunch. I like to introduce them to the authors and the books they write. In most cases, they do tend to make a purchase or two.

This past weekend, we did the touristy things, Graceland, the National Civil Rights Museum, and the Peabody Hotel to see the ducks march to the fountain in Memphis and Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Johnny Cash Museum, and the Musicians Hall of fame. But the most entertaining activity was meeting the authors and one of them was Lois Winston. We picked the Margaritaville restaurant for lunch, but who knew they had live music that just never stopped. It was hard hearing conversations if you weren’t nearby. It was great seeing Lois and my other friends.

When you travel, do you seek out friends to visit?

Anastasia is Back, and This Time the Crime is Real!


By Lois Winston

Most mystery writers and readers are fascinated by true crimes. Even if our reading doesn’t branch out beyond cozy mysteries, many of us watch everything from Murder, She Wrote reruns to each iteration of the Law & Order franchise. Some of us have even become hooked on true crime podcasts. 


Me? I’m a news junkie. All my books have been inspired in some way by actual events, or human-interest stories. Inspired is the key word, though. For instance, in A Stitch to Die for, the fifth book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series, I wove in a thread about Munchausen by Proxy Disorder after reading about several high-profile cases.


However, I’ve never incorporated an actual crime into one of my plots—until now. For Guilty as Framed, the eleventh book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series, I’ve centered the plot around a yet unsolved crime that took place in 1990. 


For years I’ve been fascinated with the burglary at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. It’s still considered the largest art heist in history, and to this day, not only haven’t the perpetrators been caught, but none of the artworks have ever been recovered. Worst of all, many of the suspects have since died.


But how do you incorporate a true crime cold case into a cozy mystery, especially when that crime might one day be solved, no matter how the likelihood diminishes with each passing year? I certainly couldn’t have my sleuth find the paintings or unmask the actual perpetrators. I don’t write alternate-reality fiction. In addition, the crime was committed in Boston, and my amateur sleuth resides in New Jersey. Besides, Anastasia is in her mid-forties. She would have been an adolescent at the time of the theft.


This was the puzzle I set for myself. Like my sleuth, I can be extremely stubborn when I set my mind to something. I may fail at a task, but I rarely give up and walk away. It helps that I’m a pantser and not a plotter. So I started out by reading everything I could get my hands on about the theft, watched a few documentaries, then just started writing, allowing my brain free rein. After writing myself into a few corners, backtracking, and beginning again…and again…and again, I came up with a story that uses various events from the actual crime, making them plausible within the pages of my story. Of course, I had to take authorial liberties along the way, but hey, I’m writing fiction. I can do that. 


I invented several characters for the purpose of advancing my plot. I’ve also changed the names of suspects and their relatives, whether they’re still alive or not, to protect the innocent, the not-so-innocent, and yours truly. But in the end, I stayed true to the major events of the crime but found a way to involve my sleuth.


It’s just too bad that Anastasia couldn’t solve the mystery of what happened to all those missing artworks. There’s still a huge reward outstanding for any information leading to their recovery, and anyone who knows anything about Anastasia knows she could really use the money.


Guilty as Framed

An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 11


When an elderly man shows up at the home of reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack, she’s drawn into the unsolved mystery of the greatest art heist in history. 


Boston mob boss Cormac Murphy has recently been released from prison. He doesn’t believe Anastasia’s assertion that the man he’s looking for doesn’t live at her address and attempts to muscle his way into her home. His efforts are thwarted by Anastasia’s fiancé Zack Barnes. 


A week later, a stolen SUV containing a dead body appears in Anastasia’s driveway. Anastasia believes Murphy is sending her a message. It’s only the first in a series of alarming incidents, including a mugging, a break-in, another murder, and the discovery of a cache of jewelry and an etching from the largest museum burglary in history.


But will Anastasia solve the mystery behind these shocking events before she falls victim to a couple of desperate thugs who will stop at nothing to get what they want?


Guilty as Framed is currently available for pre-order and will be released September 6th. Find links here.



USA Today and Amazon bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. Learn more about Lois and her books at her website where you can also sign up for her newsletter and follow her on various social media sites.

Celebrating the Third Virtual Mystery in the Midlands with a Matching Game

by Paula
Gail Benson

to attend a writing conference? Here’s one that costs only $8!

Saturday, July 16, from 10:30 am to 3:15 pm ET, the Southeast Chapter of
Mystery Writers of America and the Palmetto Chapter of Sisters in Crime, are
proud to present their third virtual Mystery in the Midlands.

Our wonderful
participants include keynote David Heska Wanbli Weiden, who will be interviewed by Hank
Phillippi Ryan. In addition, three panels will be moderated by Dana Kaye. The
panelists are Alan Orloff, Shawn Reilly Simmons, and Joseph S. Walker, talking
about short stories; Daryl Wood Gerber, Raquel V. Reyes, and Abby L. Vandiver,
talking about cozies; and Hallie Ephron, John Hart, and Hank Phillippi Ryan,
talking about settings and suspense.

We would love for you to join us. You can register

If you can’t attend the broadcast, by registering, you can watch the recording.

At $8, it’s a bargain!

Following is a little game to match our
participants with fun facts about them. See how much you know about our
distinguished authors and check your results with the answers at the end.

Hope to
see you on Saturday, July 16! Don’t forget to register:


Hallie Ephron

Daryl Wood Gerber

John Hart

Alan Orloff

Raquel V. Reyes

6. Hank Phillippi Ryan

Shawn Reilly Simmons

Abby L. Vandiver

Joseph S. Walker

David Heska Wanbli Weiden



A. Has been to baseball games in 21 different
major league parks

Edited Midnight Hour anthology

C. Cheese-phobic

Considered being a professional violinist

Has 2 rescue Bichon Frise dogs

Grew up among writers, but only reluctantly became one after age 40

In addition to a writing passion, loves riding a tractor

H. Successfully sued the CIA for information on a
sunken Russian submarine

Worked as a parrot wrangler at a pet store

Has made over 30 fairy gardens


1. F

2. J

3. G

4. C

5. I

6. H

7. D

8. B

9. A

10. E