Tag Archive for: Murder Takes the Cake


My writing process? Strangely enough, it’s not based on the written word.

I see and hear the scenes in my head. Then I type them into the computer.

Although I’ve been a voracious reader since grade school, I didn’t try to write fiction until about six or seven years ago. My first short story was written on a computer in my living room while I listened to CNN. I wrote it while drinking Pepsi One and eating Strawberry Twizzlers.

So my writing process?

Want to guess? In order to write I have to be sitting at my computer in my living room with CNN on the tv, a can of Pepsi One next to me, and okay, well – the Twizzlers are optional. I’m not completely nuts!

Seriously, I can’t write fiction using paper and pen. I’ve tried. A sentence or two is all I can squeeze out the old fashioned way.

I’m a fast typist and using a keyboard helps me get my thoughts down before they slither off. I’m composing this blog at my computer. I’ve changed the first line of this paragraph four times – trying to decide if “slither off” is the right phrase. (My co-author, Marian, wouldn’t care for me ending a sentence with the word “off,” but I’ll worry about that later.) As you can see, “slither off” won out over “escaped.”

Okay, so computer, Pepsi One, CNN, and Marian are needed in order for me to write – not necessarily in that order. I mentioned Marian before, right? She gets the credit, uh … blame for getting me into this fiction writing business. Not that I’ve actually met her in person – we are internet friends and writing partners. One day she typed, “We should write a book together.” I typed back, “We should think about it.”

I hesitated because I was afraid of failing. It’s easy to have the dream of writing a book – I’d guess most people have that dream at some point in their life. Having the dream is nice. It’s comfortable. It’s something to think about when your day job is less than fulfilling. But actually doing something about achieving that dream is scary. If you try and fail, then what? That dream is isn’t so golden any more.

But I’d been tempted, so after a few weeks of consideration, we started. We expanded a short story we’d written about a private detective and his Irish wolfhound partner. “Evelyn David” was born.

In order for me to write, I have to be in the “right” frame of mind (pun not intended but there it is), with the right tools handy (maybe the word “right” in this phrase is too much?), in order for me to find that fictional world in my head. And for me it’s all about characters.

I usually put two characters in a room, close my eyes and listen for a conversation to start. Two of my favorite characters from the Sullivan Investigations Mystery series are the twenty-something computer wiz JJ and the seventy-something, scooter riding Edgar. The only thing they have in common is their fondness for Mac Sullivan and a desire to become full-fledged detectives.

“How did you like my great nephew?”

“Is the no hair thing hereditary?”

“He’s a Marine.”


“He’s single.”

“Thanks for the warning. Mac is getting me a Taser for my birthday.”

The conversation stops. And I consider how I might use the dialogue. Or not. My writing always starts with dialogue, even if it’s inner dialogue. Then I go back and layer in background details and physical action. After I polish up the scene, I e-mail it to Marian.

I’ve tried to outline. I know how to draft an outline. Under great duress I can create an outline and I can write by it. But the process takes all the fun out of writing for me. The voices are muffled. The typing slows. Soon I’m thinking that mopping the kitchen might be a preferable activity.

If you’ve read Marian’s Monday blog, you’re probably wondering how in world we write anything together. She likes to know where we’re going before we get there. Preferably before we start. And I can’t tell her – at least not until we are about 20 pages into the first draft. Then all at once some real plot starts creeping into the scenes. Something clicks. There are choices to be made. Questions to be answered. Why does JJ dislike Edgar’s great nephew? And what’s his name anyway? [Note: find name that is different from any other characters – and for goodness sakes no more Irish names! Ask Marian.] Is the great nephew really a Marine? Is Edgar’s disappearance related to his relative’s visit? Do we want Edgar to have a major plot line in this book? Where did Carrie and Ray go? This was supposed to be their time to shine and they’re awol!

At that point in the process Marian and I start to figure out what the A and maybe B plot lines will be. We sift through the ideas – decide which ones make the most sense. We decide which characters we’re going to use in this particular book. A very loose outline is developed. We keep writing, alternating scenes, editing as we go. We watch for the C plot line to appear – a minor storyline that develops from an unexpected event or line of dialogue. Once it shows up, we deliberately expand on it and weave it throughout the book.

Sometimes after that initial twenty pages we have to start over – sometimes we just have to rewrite a few scenes. The opening scene always gets rewritten multiple times. But the main thing for me is to start. Not talk about starting, but start.

That’s my writing process.

aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David

On the Road

I’m on my Southern Book Tour. I’ve heard about the promotional travels that F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway would take. In those days, authors would move from city to city, stay at the poshest hotels, eat five-course meals, drink to the wee hours, all at the publisher’s expense, and then give thought-provoking readings of their newest works to rooms full of fans, rapt with wonder at the pearls being shared with them.

Today you’re at Motel Six with a free breakfast buffet of donuts and coffee, all on your own dime. Or more likely, you’re sitting at your desk in your pajamas and it’s a virtual book tour where you move from blog to blog.

There’s something reassuring to know that whether you’re on The New York Times best-seller list or still struggling to make a name for yourself, book tours are the great equalizer. Check out the fun web site, http://booktour.com/stories. Jack Getze, author of the Austin Carr mystery series, recalled a conversation he had with award-winning Robert Crais, creator of the Elvis Cole mysteries. Crais told how he recently arrived at a bookstore for a long-scheduled event, only to find the place empty and none of the sales staff aware of who he was. “When I found the manager, he offered me a job application.”

And yet, whether’s it a four-star hotel or the Holiday Inn, what makes these outings worth it are the mystery fans you meet along the way. That’s the big payoff. They love the genre and I often get fantastic suggestions for new writers to read. Of course, some of these meetings are the fodder for future book scenes. For example, I ask people in the audience to name their favorite authors. One woman detailed a lengthy list and then explained that that she used to read a certain famous writer, but had stopped because the newer books had “gotten too dark.” I agreed and laughed that I didn’t need to read books to get depressed. The woman nodded and added, “I’m on Prozac and I don’t want to do anything to counteract that!”

And then there are the mega-buck payoffs (and that’s a figure of speech rather than any actual dollars). One woman told the Southern half of Evelyn David that she had never read a book for fun until she picked up our first mystery, Murder Off the Books. Reading our sequel, Murder Takes the Cake, would then be her second book finished. The idea that we might be part of the reason someone becomes a reader — now that’s the stuff of book tours.

Here are the details of the rest of my travels. I’m bringing chocolate to all events!:

June 29, 7 pm
Middleburg Library
101 Reed Street
Middleburg, VA

June 30, Noon
Dorchester County Library
303 Gay Street
Cambridge, MD

July 1, Noon
Mystery Loves Company Bookstore
202 S. Morris Street
Oxford, MD

July 1, 7 pm
Delmar Public Library
101 N. Bi-State Boulevard
Delmar, DE

Hope to see you on the road!

Evelyn David

Have Your Cake & Eat It Too!

As Murder Takes the Cake is making its way onto library shelves across the U.S. we’d like to celebrate with a SPECIAL DRAWING JUST FOR LIBRARIANS.

Sign up for our newsletter at our website. The sign up block is on the right column, just scroll down a few inches. Indicate on the sign up form that you are a librarian or work/volunteer in a library. You’ll be automatically entered into the June, July, and August 2009 drawing for an autographed copy of Murder Takes the Cake and a Smith Island Cake.

If you are already an Evelyn David Newsletter subscriber and need to update your subscription to indicate that you are a librarian, just follow the same procedure.

3 months – 3 drawings. Sign up today and have 3 chances to win!

Good luck!

And for all the rest of us who are not lucky enough to work in a library? Check back, we’ve got another great contest coming this summer!

Evelyn David

Great Beach Reads

Book #1 – Sullivan Investigations Mystery Series
Murder Off the Books Trade Paperback
Murder Off the Books Kindle
Book #2 – Sullivan Investigations Mystery Series
Murder Takes the Cake Trade Paperback
Murder Takes the Cake Kindle

Barnes & Noble
Murder Off the Books Trade Paperback
Murder Takes the Cake Trade Paperback

One of Those “What’s On My Mind?” Blogs

What’s on my mind?

Murder Takes the Cake Promotion – A New PowerPoint Presentation on Coal Mining for My Boss – My Office Relocation – Forced Medical Treatments – Dancing With the Stars Winner – Too Much Jay Leno – State Legislators & the Strange Things They Choose to Care About – Nancy Pelosi’s Inability to Prove a Negative – Book Companies Going Out of Business – The Legend of Bigfoot – The Fine Print on the New Credit Card Bills in Congress – Last Chance Harvey

Any wonder why I have a headache?

Last Chance Harvey – I purchased the dvd of Last Chance Harvey and loved it. I watched it late the other night while recovering from food poisoning (I think it was the mushrooms that did me in). Dustin Hoffman is wonderful, if still very short in stature. Emma Thompson was wonderful – never realized how tall she is until she stood next to Dustin. Last Chance Harvey is an adult movie (not because of sex or violence but because of the lack of same.) It’s a simple movie about middle-aged adults dealing with loneliness and starting over with new relationships. It’s quiet and powerful, yet understated. Real acting goes on in this movie! No special effects. No need for stunt doubles.

Pending Credit Card Reform – All the things in the new Credit Card Consumer Bill of Rights, or whatever it’s called this week, sound great. There are just two problems –the Coburn gun legislation amendment that is tacked on to it and the fact that Congress wants to delay the credit card reforms from taking effect for nine months or so. They are basically telling the credit card companies to jack up their interest rates now, because in nine months they’ll only be able to raise them for just “cause.” Hey, I bet they don’t delay the implementation of the gun legislation part of it.

Bigfoot – Trying to convince the northern half of Evelyn David of the merits of “Bigfoot” as a secondary character in our next book. I put my chances at about 50/50.

Bookstore Companies/Suppliers – Tried to buy paperback books in my local (two blocks from my house) Drug Warehouse store. They used to have a good supply and variety of the latest. Now nothing. I asked what the deal was. Manager said their book supplier went out of business. Another sad sign of the times.

Nancy Pelosi – In a way I feel sorry for her, although she’s a big girl and experienced enough at the way Washington politics work to have avoided this trap. She may or may not have attended a briefing where she may or may not have been told about water boarding in the past or in the future. And she may or may not have understood what she was being told, if she was told. Not that she could have done anything with the information at the time – she was sworn to secrecy. She wasn’t being consulted, she was being informed by the CIA what the Bush Administration (torture or non-torture) had already approved and/or maybe already implemented. So how did Nancy Pelosi become the skunk at the D.C. picnic? Or maybe that smell wafting out of the beltway is of fish – a very large red herring.

State Legislatures – Oklahoma, not to be outdone by other states that’ve spent massive amounts of time and money on trying to mix government and religion, has approved a Ten Commandments monument for the state capital grounds. Meanwhile state agencies are going to take at least a 7 percent budget cut. It should be noted that taxpayers aren’t paying for the monument; we’ll just be on the hook for the legal fees from the litigation that is sure to come.

Too Much Jay Leno – Why would NBC shoot itself in the foot by putting The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on at 9 pm Central each weeknight, instead of dramas or comedies? Okay, sure, production costs are cheaper, but what happens when no one tunes in and they can’t give away ad slots? The Peacock really is an endangered species.

Dancing with the Stars – Great show, but it’s troubling that the best dancer rarely wins.

Forced Medical Treatments – I’m on the fence with this one. Should a thirteen year old be forced to endure chemo? Do the parents not get to decide? What do you think?

My Office Relocation – On May 29, my office (my day job) is moving to a newly renovated building. See photo below. Think it will be done in time?

The PowerPoint Presentation for My Boss – I’m working on it! I’m working on it!

Murder Takes the Cake Promotion – My co-author and I are working on something special for librarians. Check out our new website and stay tuned.

Evelyn David

The Writer’s Journey

The writer’s journey is a long one. Full of fast starts and lots of waiting. Marked by great excitement, mixed with terrible lows, each author finds her own way. Or finds another career. Invariably the hardest part is not the writing.

The time between finishing a book and seeing it published can usually be measured in years, not months. Echelon Press Publishing LLC is one of the few publishers that can make that turn around a little quicker – still the wait is long for the authors.

The co-authors, writing as Evelyn David, are now officially starting the promotion tour for a book we finished last summer. Lots of water has passed under the bridge since then. We’ll let you in on a secret – we have to reread our own book before we stand up before a crowd and talk about it in detail. Oh, we remember the plot and the characters, but all the scenes? No. Why? Because many scenes were deleted before we turned in the final version. But in our memories, there is no difference between the words we wrote and the finished product.

To be fair, with Murder Takes the Cake we have fewer scenes littering the cutting room floor. Understanding how hard it was to edit the first book, we were more disciplined about our plotting in the second book. We write much “tighter” now.

Just as an author’s writing changes with time and experience, the writing changes the author. You learn to see the world around you in terms of events that can be mined for plots and people who’d make great characters. You listen for a phrase that can be recycled for one of your series characters. The “world is a stage” and believe me, the author sitting at the table next to you is taking notes.

The Writer’s Journey Journal is a new collection of writers’ essays on, as editor Tony Burton calls, “… the craft and business of writing fiction.” Published by Wolfmont Press, The Writer’s Journey Journal is also a journal. Pages are left for you to write about your own journey. Evelyn David, along with the following authors, contributed to the book: Carolyn Hart, Bill Crider, Radine Trees Nehring, John M. Floyd, Austin S. Camacho, Robert W. Walker, L. Diane Wolfe, Beth Groundwater, Carola Dunn, Dorothy Francis, Chris Roerden, and Tony Burton.

The Writer’s Journey Journal is available at Wolfmont Press’s website

Evelyn David

New Book Mania

Murder Takes the Cake, the second book in the Sullivan Investigations Mystery series by Evelyn David, has an offical publish date of May, 2009. That’s tomorrow!

Actually it feels like Murder Takes the Cake has already been out for six months – that’s how long we’ve been promoting it. Longer still if you consider we had the concept and title picked out two years ago.

We’ve designed and ordered bookmarks promoting the new book, the series, and The Stiletto Gang. We’ve sent charity promotion baskets featuring our series to Bouchercon 2008, Mayhem in the Midlands, Murder 203, Malice, etc.

We’ve sent out emails and flyers to readers and WorldCat-listed libraries who purchased the first book, Murder Off the Books. We’ve blogged, twittered, myspaced, and facebooked about the book. We’ve called into radio station programs featuring books about animals.

We did a sneak peek sale at the Love Is Murder Convention in February. We’ve sold a few advance, autographed copies through our website – http://www.evelyndavid.com and Amazon has been taking pre-orders. But this weekend at Malice, Murder Takes the Cake will be officially launched.

Now the real work begins.

We have to approach bookstores, libraries, clubs, civic organizations, basically anyone who would like a speaker or workshop for their organization and in turn, will give us an opportunity to promo our books. We’re busy booking events from now until 2010. If you’d like Evelyn David to speak to your group, email us at evelyn@evelyndavid.com

You can see some of our scheduled events listed on the lower right side of this blog. For a full listing check out our website at http://www.evelyndavid.com

My co-author and I love speaking to library groups – nothing like talking to a group of people who love everything about books. We have a listing of all the libraries we’ve visited on our Library Hall of Fame section of our website.

On the Saturday before Mother’s Day, I’m trying something different. I’ll have a small table at Reasor’s Grocery Store in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. From 9 am – 2 pm, I’ll be competing with the “food sample lady” and the “special on aisle 5” for shoppers’ attention. Hey, maybe I could join forces with the “food sample lady!” No, scratch that – I don’t want barbeque stains on my book pages. On the other hand someone might think red stains on a murder mystery was a plus. I’ll have to think about it.

Wish us luck! The new book mania begins.

Evelyn David

As Bees in Honey Drown

On Saturday, the family traveled in a driving rainstorm to Philadelphia to see As Bees in Honey Drown. Our daughter was the director. Proud Mama that I am, give me a moment to kvell. The play was marvelous; the casting sublime; the costumes, set design, music, in fact, all the artistic decisions were creative, brilliant, and so clever that Steven Spielberg might want to put my daughter on speed dial. In other words, the afternoon was a clear the bases hit.

Beyond all questions of maternal pride, the play was also thought-provoking. It asked: what would you do for fame and fortune? How much of yourself would you sell in exchange for at least fifteen minutes, if not more, of fame? The protagonist is a newly-published author. Hmmm, that sounds familiar. His book has gotten good reviews – but the financial payoff has been minimal. Hmmmm, also sounds familiar. (Brief BSP interruption – have you seen the review of Murder Takes the Cake in the Midwest Book Review????!!!!)

Okay, back to the discussion.

We first meet Evan Wyler (a pen name – hmmm), at a photo shoot where he is directed to take off his shirt – so he’ll appear “hot.” Hmmm, okay, not so familiar. I think it’s safe to say that neither half of Evelyn David has been asked to look “hot” for a promo shot…but you get the idea. Evan wants to wear a v-neck sweater leaning on a pile of books by Proust; the photographer knows that sex sells.

The plot, alternately serious and hilarious, follows Evan’s adventures and misadventures as big bucks are dangled in front of him at the cost of his sense of self and personal ethics. He whines that despite spending nine years writing his well-received novel, he still scrambles to pay the rent each month. Offered the opportunity to write a movie of Alexa Vere de Vere’s life for $1,000 a week, he’s eager to sign on despite the fact that he knows immediately that at least part of the tale she is spinning is an outrageous lie. Hollywood beckons.

So would I sell out for fame and fortune? Um, yes, faster than a New York minute.

No, no – I didn’t mean that. Sure the money was momentarily blinding; the photo spread I envisioned in People Magazine was tempting (tops on, of course). But I’d like to think I recognize what’s important in life and the inevitable cost when you trade ethics for dollars or power or even that photo shoot in People.

There’s always a fine line between promotion and selling-out. For that matter, there’s a fine line between promotion and boring people to death as you try to publicize your book. But as both halves of Evelyn David gear up for marketing Murder Takes the Cake, we’ll keep As Bees in Honey Drown in mind (and our tops on!).

Evelyn David

Library Love

As my co-author and I are gearing up to promote the May publication of Murder Takes the Cake, we’re discussing our favorite way to reach mystery readers and sell books – events at public libraries.

When you give a presentation in a library, your audience is filled with people who love books, love talking about books, and want nothing more than to hear what you have to say. Some even have dreams of writing their own books. Your family may have grown weary of hearing about your writing, but go to a library and you have a room full of fresh ears.

On more than one occasion, I’ve found that a one hour event has turned into two as audience members ask questions about the books and the road to publication. That’s the best part – the questions. You never know what someone is going to ask. During my first library presentation I got a question from an elderly woman. She declared that she’d buy my book if I could assure her that no animals or people got killed in it. I told her no animals were killed but that it was a murder mystery …. The audience laughed, even the questioner.

This year “Evelyn David” will be offering “talks” on crafting mysteries, developing characters, and writing a series. We have presentations suitable for all ages and a few just for teens. We try to provide handouts – bookmarks, lists of “how-to-write” books, and a list of links to on-line writers’ groups. The door prize drawing is always a hit.

If an author is scheduled to speak at a library in your home town, go and check it out. You’ll have fun, find something interesting to read, and lend some much needed support to your local library system.

And if you’re a librarian in Oklahoma or New York (or a surrounding state) and would like a guest speaker, send us an email at evelyn@evelyndavid.com If you’ll check at our website in our “Libraries Hall of Fame,” you can see which libraries we’ve visited in the last two years. We’re setting our speaking schedule for the summer and fall of 2009 now and we’d love to add you to that list!

Evelyn David

The First Review

It’s an in-between moment that’s hard to describe. It’s the time after you know a review of your new book is there for all the world to see and before you actually click the link or turn to the magazine page to read it. You hold your breath, torn between wanting to know what it says and wanting to avoid it at all costs. (I mean, after all, what writer worth their salt doesn’t believe they’re a fraud and that at any moment, someone is bound to discover it?)

The first review of Murder Takes the Cake was posted on line last Friday night. You can read it here at armchairinterviews.com. I got the email about it from the editor and then braced myself to look at the review. My pulse raced and my fingers fumbled on the keyboard as I clicked on the site and searched for the title of the book.

The actual review can be exhilarating or crushing. Logically, you know that no review can give you confidence if you don’t believe in your writing. But your heart yearns for other people’s approval of the fictional world you’ve created. You want the readers – and reviewers are readers, whether we want to believe that or not – to love your characters, understand your plot, and when they get to the words, “The End,” rush out to buy your next book.

Sometimes, even with a good review, the author spends way too much time searching for subtext and parsing words. A single word, the slightest turn of phrase, anything that could be construed in a negative way, will stand out like a neon light. And no matter how many flattering descriptions surround the one little criticism, that line will be the one the author can quote verbatim years later.

The worst review is not necessarily the one from someone who didn’t like your book. It’s the one where the reviewer not only didn’t like your book and said so, but he/she didn’t get the characters’ names correct. You’re left with the suspicion that the reviewer never read your book. And there is nothing you can do about it!

Or how about the review where the careless reviewer missed several vital clues and then claimed in print, or worse on-line for everyone to see forever, that the murderer’s identity “came out of the blue.” As the author there is nothing you want more than to post a scathing rebuttal, but you can’t. It just isn’t done. You have to let it go.

If I could ask only one thing from readers, it’s to not take a single negative review too seriously, especially if it isn’t representative of the other reviews of the same book.

And for authors, I’d advise the same. Not everyone will like your book – but that doesn’t mean you haven’t written a good book. Not every review will be good – learn from them if you can, if not clean the smelly goop from your shoes and move on. And for heavens sake, when the review is positive, enjoy it without “wallowing it around” and searching out potential bad spots.

So what about the review I mentioned in the beginning of this blog? It’s fantastic! “Evelyn David” is ecstatic.

I think I’m ecstatic. Probably.

I need to read it again, just to be sure.

And yes, despite the advice I just gave everyone, I’ll reread the review over and over until the next review is posted.

But I won’t focus on individual words.

I won’t.


Evelyn David