Tag Archive for: Plotting

Plotting Party

 by Bethany Maines

Last weekend, I reached peak pandemic and hosted a gathering in my carport. It was a writer’s gathering, aka a Plotting Party, so there was a lot of sitting and staring at our notebooks. And also snacking and freezing. But, as with other joint writing gatherings I’ve hosted, we did use each other to work through problems in our outlines. No one asks more “but why?” questions than a writer except a four-year-old trying to stall bedtime. But why do you want a ball in your story?  But why is she in Ireland?  But why did the killer drain all the blood? Each story has it’s own answer and it’s fun to hear the reasoning that went into each one. 
Of course, being the writer in the hot seat isn’t quite as much fun, but it does serve an important purpose. Searching out the answers to those questions forces me to examine the clues in the story I’m writing as well as my intention for writing the character or story that particular way. When another writer points out that my characters motivations seem implausible I’m forced to confront why I want that scene or why I want the character to behave that way.  Being faced with well-intentioned friends who simply want to understand my story is the equivalent of Law & Order level third-degree. Pretty soon I’m caving and confessing that I just like something and I’ve been ignoring my characters motivations all along. 
But the added benefit of a plotting party is that I have additional minds to help me brainstorm. And with brainstorming comes encouragement and a cheering section that is irreplaceable. The pandemic has put a lot of things on hold, but creativity and friendship clearly haven’t been one of them. I see more outdoor plotting parties in the future, particularly as the weather gets warmer and I wish all of you a carport full of friends of your very own.

Bethany Maines is the award-winning author of the Carrie Mae Mysteries, San Juan Islands Mysteries, Shark Santoyo Crime Series, and numerous
short stories. When she’s not traveling to exotic lands, or kicking some
serious butt with her black belt in karate, she can be found chasing her
daughter or glued to the computer working on her next novel.
You can also catch up with her on Twitter, FacebookInstagram, and BookBub.

The Shape of Tales

by Bethany Maines

Last year two other authors and banded together to invent GalacticDreams—a shared sci-fi universe for novellas based on fairy tales. As I
mentioned in a blog at the time I was shocked to go through the fairy tales and
realize how full horrible things they really were. The shock only deepened when
I learned that these were the sanitized versions. Apparently, the Grimm
brothers put out a first edition and found out that they were a little too gory
and horrible for even their 1800’s audiences. So they switched some of the
baddies to step-parents (instead of full parents) and pulled out some of the
most egregious elements and put out a new edition that is more similar to the
stories we’re familiar with today. However, as the shock of cannibalism,
incest, and limb removal wore off, I began to notice another strange thing
about the stories: they don’t make sense.
The story I’m using this year for my sci-fi novel The
Seventh Swan is based on the story of the Six Swans. The story involves at
least 2 witches, 2 kings, and 3 queens and not one of them has a name.  But you won’t need to worry about which is
which because they never interact. The witch at the start of the story
disappears after she’s set events in motion. Ditto to the evil queen witch
step-mother.  The doting father of the
swan brother and heroine puts them in a tower to protect them from the evil
queen witch step-mother, but when his daughter says “Dad your wife turned my
brothers into swans.” He’s all “Nah, she wouldn’t do that.”  And the story is called the Six Swans, so
clearly it must be about the brothers, right? 
No.  They show up once and
disappear again until the end.  And then
the heroine, now sworn to silence to save her brothers (and how did they know
that was what had to happen to save them?) gets married has not one, but three
children, and her mother-in-law steals them and accuses her of eating them. Because…
that was so common that people would buy that story? Eventually, (after the
third baby) the husband’s like “I guess she’s a cannibal” and he decides to
burn her at the stake. But fortunately the six years of silence is up and she
saves the brothers and avoids the stake.
None of that makes sense. However, the story still makes sense. 
A girl must save her brothers from an evil curse by suffering in silence
and setting herself to a menial task. 
The flow of the story works, but the actual events and characters are
insane.  And in fairy tale after fairy
tale the same holds true.  Characters pop
up and then disappear. Characters contradict their own statements.  Random events occur. But they all move the
story toward the mandated happy ending.  Fairy
tales are not a lesson in how to write beautiful descriptions or develop fully
fleshed out characters, but they have been an amazing lesson in how stories
function and how much a reader will forgive to get to the happy ending.

Buy now on Amazon – $4.99 – Look for Volume 2 in February 2019!
Welcome to the universe of Galactic Dreams, where fairy tales are reimagined for a new age—the future. In each Galactic Dreams novella you’ll find an old tale reborn with a mixture of romance, technology, aliens and adventure. But beware, a perilous quest awaits behind every star and getting home again will depend on a good spaceship, true love, and maybe just a hint of magic. The Galactic Dreams Volume One boxed set features three novellas inspired by Mulan, Thumbelina, and Sleeping Beauty, from authors Bethany Maines, Karen Harris Tully, and J.M. Phillippe.

Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mystery Series, San
Juan Islands Mysteries
, Shark Santoyo
Crime Series
, and numerous short stories. When she’s not traveling to
exotic lands, or kicking some serious butt with her fourth degree black belt in
karate, she can be found chasing her daughter or glued to the computer working
on her next novel. You can also catch up with her on YouTube,
Twitter and Facebook.

Retreating In Order to Move Forward

by Sparkle Abbey

To retreat is an act or a process of withdrawing. At least according to our handy Merriam Webster Dictionary app.  However, it has also come to mean a place you go to get away from it all. A place to relax, reflection and recharge.

This past weekend we participated in a different kind of retreat. This was plotting retreat with three other writers – the members of our critique group. We try to do this at least twice a year. It’s especially helpful at the start of a new project.

We started with a great dinner and discussion Friday night and then Saturday morning after breakfast we were ready to go. Each writer gets a two-hour time slot where we all focus on their story. Although we call this a plotting retreat, it’s up to the individual writer how their two-hour session is used. It may be actual plotting, or help with a story problem, or perhaps just brainstorming. There’s a wonderful synergy that happens when we put our five heads together.  It’s intense, it’s productive, and it’s also great fun.

There are several tools that we’ve found work well for us – a big whiteboard, flip charts, markers, reference books, and, of course, plenty of chocolate!

We been doing this for several years and at this past weekend’s retreat we worked on the plot for the 10th book in our Pampered Pets mystery series. We think you’ll enjoy what we’ve cooked up this time!

What about you? Have you ever attended any kind of retreat?

Sparkle Abbey is the pseudonym of two mystery authors (Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter). They are friends and neighbors as well as co-writers of the Pampered Pets Mystery Series. The pen name was created by combining the names of their rescue pets–Sparkle (Mary Lee’s cat) and Abbey (Anita’s dog). If you want to make sure you’re up on all the Sparkle Abbey news, stop by their website and sign up for updates at sparkleabbey.com.

By the way, beginning today the 5th book in Sparkle Abbey’s mystery series, FIFTY SHADES OF GREYHOUND is on sale for only $1.99 for a limited time in all ebook formats.

Plotting vs. Pantsing

by Linda Rodriguez
In the mystery-writing community,
people tend to divide themselves into plotters or pantsers. This
seems to me to set up a false dichotomy where real authors either
write out rigid, detailed outlines of their entire books before they
begin their first draft or they start with nothing but perhaps an
image or a line and then wing their way through the entire book. I
know this divide isn’t true, and if you look, you can find plenty of
interviews with and articles by established mystery writers saying
this isn’t true, but still, this either-or myth seems to fill the air
and create problems, especially for fairly new writers.

I’d like to suggest that there are
myriad ways to write a mystery or thriller that partake to varying
degrees of both methods and yet are neither. Probably the initial
freeing knowledge in this arena that I encountered was from
best-selling and award-winning Elizabeth George. George has also
written a great book on writing the novel, especially the mystery, Write Away:
One Writer’s Approach to Fiction and the Writing Life
, in which she discusses the way
she writes her own highly successful mysteries. She plots out in
broad general terms what will happen over the first 50 pages, goes
into more detail about what will happen in each scene right before
she writes it, and then she changes that rough 50-page outline to
adhere to what she actually wrote in those first 50 or so pages,
plots out in general terms the next 50 pages, and proceeds this way
through the first draft of the entire book. At the end, her outline
shows the basic structure of what she’s actually written, providing a
tool she can use in revision.

George’s practical method was very
close to what I was actually doing. I felt like a failure because I
couldn’t stick to a pre-determined outline of a whole book, nor could
I just wing it without finding I’d often left out the drama my book
needed. But, hey, if Elizabeth George did it, too, maybe I wasn’t
such a failure.

The truth of the matter is that any way
you can get a good book written is the right way for that book. Some
people love those detailed outlines—I’ve heard some authors claim
their original outlines are longer than the books themselves. Some
people can fly across the page on a wing and a prayer with no
preparation, never knowing where they’re going until they reach the
end, without later having to throw away huge chunks of draft and
spend ages on major revisions to try to inject some action and drama
into their manuscripts. As far as I can tell, however, both extremes
are fairly rare. Usually, in talking with writers, I find they use
some mixture of the two methods. Perhaps they think a great deal and
even make notes about the world of the book, the dramatic situation,
and the characters—notes they may later refer to or not, as the
case may be—and then they just start writing, having gassed up the
story machine in their unconscious with their earlier thinking, and
just keep going until the end. Perhaps they wing it until they get
into trouble and then they work on figuring out what happens next
before winging it again for a while, cycling in and out of that
process throughout the book. This is a strategy I have also used
before and may well use again.

We find what works for us for this
particular book—and the thing is, that tends to change with certain
books—and that becomes our method, until it no longer works for the
book we’re on now. So I urge all of you to eschew the seeming
requirement for rigid extremes. Try some of these hybrid methods and
see if any one of them will work well for you with the book you’re
writing now, keeping in mind that it’s not the only one and you can
change to another of them when it no longer helps. You might make up
a hybrid method that I haven’t mentioned that will work well for your
book, or you might find another that I haven’t mentioned in an
interview with a writer you admire. Use what works for you at the
stage you’re at right now.

New novelists, especially, can find it
difficult to successfully juggle all the plates of character,
conflict, action, motivation, background and setting, dialogue, scene
structure, plot points, emotional turning points, plot complications,
subplots, and a million more from the beginning. Thinking ahead and
planning for effective use of some of these aspects of the novel is a
completely successful way to work, even if you want to wing the rest
of it.

These are my two cents on the whole
plotter vs pantser thing. How do you work?

Linda Rodriguez’s Plotting the
Character-Driven Novel,
based on her popular workshop, and The
World Is One Place: Native American Poets Visit the Middle East
an anthology she co-edited, are her newest books. Every Family
, her fourth mystery novel featuring Cherokee campus police
chief, Skeet Bannion, will appear in autumn, 2017. Her three earlier
Skeet novels—Every Hidden Fear, Every Broken Trust,
and Every Last Secret—and
her books of poetry—Skin Hunger
and Heart’s Migration—have
received critical recognition and awards, such as St. Martin’s
Press/Malice Domestic Best First Novel, International
Latino Book Award, Latina Book Club Best Book of 2014, Midwest Voices
& Visions, Elvira Cordero Cisneros Award, Thorpe Menn Award, and
Ragdale and Macondo fellowships.
Her short story, “The Good
Neighbor,” published in the anthology, Kansas City Noir, has
been optioned for film.
Rodriguez is past chair of the AWP
Indigenous Writer’s Caucus, past president of Border Crimes chapter
of Sisters in Crime, founding board member of Latino Writers
Collective and The Writers Place, and a member of International
Thriller Writers, Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers and
Storytellers, and Kansas City Cherokee Community. Visit her at

Lourey/Baker Double Booked Tour

by  Shannon Baker and Jess Lourey

Today our guest bloggers are the amazing Shannon Baker and Jess Lourey. We’re so glad you’ve stopped by! Take it away ladies!

A big hello to the Stiletto Gang from me (Shannon Baker) and Jess Lourey. Thanks to Sparkle Abbey for inviting us to chat today. We’ve been zooming around the Internets on this crazy, month-long prelaunch blog tour and we’re tuckered out. Or, at least, I am, Jess is much younger so can probably still dance all night. I’m not nearly as pooped, though, as if I’d had to go it alone. Take my word for it, traveling with a friend is so much better. As our host(s), Sparkle Abbey, well know.

Shannon Baker

Shannon: I’m all giddy with excitement to tell you about my new Kate Fox mystery series. The first book, due out September 6th but available for preorder, is Stripped Bare. Set in the Nebraska Sandhills, it’s been called Longmire meets The Good Wife.

Jess: I’m thrilled to talk about Salem’s Cipher, my political suspense novel which is not coincidentally also releasing on September 6th and also available for preorder. Salem’s Cipher features Salem Wiley, an agoraphobic cryptanalyst who must crack codes Emily Dickinson hid 100 years earlier in order to save the first viable female presidential candidate from assassination. USA Today bestselling author Alyson Gaylin kindly calls it “a bona fide page turner.”

Shannon: Together, Jess and I have published 19 books so supposedly, we know something about writing novels. However, I’m plotting another book in the Kate Fox series and would love some expert advice. So today, we’re going to talk about plot and see if Jess can get me out of my mess.

I’ve always been a plotter, as opposed to a pantser (magicians who start on the novel highway and only see as far as their headlights but drive the whole trip that way—to paraphrase E.L. Doctorow) I know Jess is a plotter, too. 

I used to use an Excel spreadsheet and plotted every scene, along with detailed notes. I found I usually jumped away from the outline but having it made me less psychotic. Slightly less. 

In the past I’ve used all kinds of models, from Laura Baker’s Discovering Story Magic, to Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat, and most recently, Larry Brooks, Story Engineering.
But I really admire writers who stay more flexible and I felt like the Universe was trying to tell me to trust myself more. So with my last book, I started with way less planned out. 

As it happened, I got bogged down, wound around, tangled up, and right before I got to the climactic segment, I realized I’d skipped a whole book. So I quit right where I was and now, am backtracking to the lost book.
And I’m taking more time to plot.

Jess: Shannon, I feel your pain. Or at least I see it. I don’t feel it because I’m too chicken to go without a plot, though I know I’d be happier if I was more laidback across ever area of my life. I think about writing novels much like I thought about coloring back in kindergarten, though. I liked to outline the coloring book picture with a dark line of crayon first, and then fill in the middle with a lighter version of the same shade.

Jess Lourey

Similarly, I like to trace the shape of a book before I write it, creating an overarching rhythm by not getting into the details. I usually write a one sentence summary of each scene (and my novels average around 70 scenes), one sentence per note card, and then I lay them all out in a room to make sure they’re all necessary and all in the right order. Once I determine they are, I start writing, leaving room for surprise and rearrangement. You can do something similar to my notecard plotting exercise using Scrivener, which I like, but which I don’t entirely trust in a “I’m going to save my money in a mattress” kind of way.

So Shannon, with the book that you pantsed before realizing you’d skipped a book—was that experience worthwhile for you? Is it helping you to write the book you are writing now, or does it feel like wasted time?

Shannon: I think all writing helps. I believe the more words a person writes, the better she gets. So, no, I don’t think it was wasted. And I will probably use much of it later on. At least I know where I don’t want to go.

In my new series, Kate has several issues going on. She’s got to figure out a whole new life, after she’d thought she had it all planned out. She’s got a beloved niece on the run and is trying to figure out why. And, of course, in every book there is a crime to solve. It’s fun trying to puzzle out where she’s going next and what she needs to do, but keeping all the subplots and threads weaving together can be a challenge. 

Jess, Salem has personal issues, historic, cryptologic and crime going on. That makes for a complicated story. Did your notecard method help you to keep it all running smooth? 

Jess: Yep. Not only that, it kept me sane. In Salem’s Cipher, Salem Wiley, the protagonist, has to crack codes left by Emily Dickinson to find out why powerful women throughout history have been systematically killed. It’s the only way to save her mother as well as the first viable female presidential candidate the U.S. has ever seen. I had the race-against-time plot to crack the codes, the go-back-in-time plot to set up the codes as well as to develop characters, and the across-time plot to set up relationships real time in the book. That’s why I took my notecard game to a new level with this book and color- and shape-coded the cards. Colors signaled whose point of view the scene was being told from, and shape (no corners cut, one corner cut, or two corners cut) indicated which plot thread I was handling. Laying them all out on the floor was a quick and easy way to make sure nothing was getting bunched up or neglected. I have so much admiration for a writer who can weave all those threads with no map!

A little about our books:

Salem’s Cipher: Salem Wiley is a genius cryptanalyst, courted by the world’s top security agencies ever since her quantum computing breakthrough. She’s also an agoraphobe shackled to a narrow routine since her father’s suicide. When her intelligence work unexpectedly exposes a sinister plot to assassinate the country’s first viable female presidential candidate, Salem finds herself both target and detective in a modern day witch hunt. Drawn into a labyrinth of messages encrypted by Emily Dickinson and codes tucked inside the Beale Cipher a hundred years earlier, Salem begins to uncover the truth: an ancient and ruthless group is hell-bent on ruling the world, and only a select group of women stands in its way.

Stripped Bare: Just when everything seems about perfect, someone leaves the barn door open and all hell breaks loose. At least, that’s what it feels like for Kate Fox. Born and raised in the Nebraska Sandhills, smack in the middle of eight interfering siblings, related to everyone in the county by one degree of separation or less, Kate’s managed to create a her perfect life.

A shattering phone calls hits Kate like a January blizzard. A local rancher is murdered and her husband, the sheriff, is shot. When her husband is suspected of the murder, Kate vows to find the killer.

Jess and I are both giving away a copy of our new books, Salem’s Cipher and Stripped Bare. For a chance to win, share one of your plot tricks or leave a comment. 

Not only that:

If you order Salem’s Cipher before September 6, 2016, you are invited to forward your receipt to salemscipher@gmail.com to receive a Salem short story and to be automatically entered in a drawing to win a 50-book gift basket mailed to the winner’s home!

If you order Stripped Bare before September 6, 2016, you are invited to forward your receipt to katefoxstrippedbare@gmail.com to receive a Kate Fox short story and be entered for a book gift basket mailed to your home. 

Join us tomorrow as the Lourey/Baker Double Booked tour trips over to Mysteriastas, where we’re going to talk about recipes. (really) 

The Bag of Tricks

By Bethany Maines
On my last blog I discussed how I
keep the fictional worlds of my books organized (answer: spreadsheets and
lists!), but recently I gave a talk on writing to a local high-school and they
wanted to know the more nitty-gritty details. Since they are at the start of
their writer journey they have yet to discover that many of the struggles of
writing are shared by all writers. 
What’s that? You have two great scenes, but you’re not sure how to
connect them?  You have half a novel
written, but you don’t know who the bad guy is yet? You really need the hot guy
to land in the heroine’s life, but you don’t know how he gets there?  These are all questions with many possible
answers, and like common core math, many possible ways of getting to the answer.
I thought Kimberly Jayne’s recent
post about Mindful Daydreaming was a great way to answer many writing
questions.  And yesterday’s post from Sally
Berneathy’s post about “pantsing” vs. plotting a novel showed how she dives and
discovers her book as she goes along.  I
have discovered that being a plotter is usually a faster more efficient way for
me to write.  When I have all the answers
before I start writing, I can write even when I’m not feeling very creative or
if I only have five minutes.  But
recently, I found myself stuck on the outline. 
I stared.  I hammered.  I picked. 
I ignored it.  Nothing
happened.  And at some point I decided to
start writing because you know what happens when you don’t write? Nothing.  So I wrote all the way to where I had
outlined and I was just as stuck as I was on the outline.  I was back to being a high-schooler – how do
I connect those two scenes? How do I get the hero from point A to point B? Dear
God, what happens nexxxxxxxt????
Which is when I decided to take my
own advice.  I grabbed a notebook and a
pen. Changing the medium can sometimes change my perspective.  I wrote a synopsis of the story from the
villain’s point of view.  I wrote a
synopsis from the love interests view point. I drew little diagrams about how the
storylines connect. I wrote a few paragraphs about the villain’s history and
motivation, really diving into what he thinks about the events of the story.  It’s an old saying that each of us is the
hero in our own story, and that goes for villains too (see the great post from
Jennae Phillippe about A Villain’s Voice). 
How does a villain think that his actions are justified? As I answered
that question, I discovered more and more about how my story moved
forward.  Which is when I put down the
pen and typed up my scrawling notes. 
Organizing a novel isn’t just
about filing systems; it’s about herding all your characters and ideas into a
coherent plot and making sure that everyone gets to the end (or the right end
if they happen to be the designated dead body) in a satisfying manner.  But sometimes a writer needs to reach into
her bag of tricks and try more than one technique to get the job done.  As I told my room full of high-schoolers, when
in doubt…  try, try something else.
Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie
Mae Mysteries
, Tales from the City of
and An Unseen Current.
You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video
or catch up with her on
 Twitter and Facebook.

Winging It

by J.M. Phillippe

Earlier this month, fellow Stiletto Gang author Bethany Maines posted a great blog about how she organizes her novels using spreadsheets and graphs — all online! I was super impressed. And then intimidated. Because my organization of a novel looks a lot more like this:

Images of writing notebooks
Sometimes I can’t even read my own writing.

 I don’t even remember to put all my notes about the same story in the same notebook.

I do start out trying to be super organized. I spend a lot of time procrastinating…er…pre-writing by creating elaborate systems and files that some part of me knows I will never maintain. I understand that that the more up-front work I do, the less back-end work I’ll have to do. And yet, inevitably, at some point during a writing project I find myself digging through various notebooks and poorly named Word files, trying to find that one piece of information I need to complete whatever section I’m working on. I have to scan first drafts specifically for continuity errors (like the spelling of a name), and if it wasn’t for eagle-eyed readers and editors, I’d miss small changes I made in even basic descriptions (did that room have a brown leather chair or a burgundy leather chair?).

Vader is not impressed with me.

I also only ever make it half-way through a novel outline before the drafting process takes over, and characters and plots move in totally different directions. It’s a little bit because I find outlines kind of boring, and a little bit more that if I get too detailed and figure out how it will all end, I lose interest. Generally, I never start with more than a vague sense of where I want to end up, and I find drafting it out so much more satisfying. And yet I know that an outline would probably make the entire process a lot less messy — and faster — if maybe not as spontaneous.

Of course, come revision time, I then I have to backtrack and do all the work that I maybe shoulda coulda woulda done in the pre-writing process. I create a reverse outline of my chapters and sections. I make a style sheet and finally decide on a single spelling of a name (the search and replace feature in Word is very much my friend). Changes are always intentionally planned. I invest heavily in the revision process, and the story can change dramatically from draft to draft.

In many ways, starting off by winging it and then going back and organizing what I’ve written lets me discover the story in two different ways — as I write it, and after I go back and read what I’ve written. That process of discovery keeps me interested in the story, even if it is very labor intensive.

Still, I can’t help but look at the ways other writers organize themselves and wistfully daydream about my own set of spread sheets and graphs. Sometimes though, I’d settle for remembering exactly where I put that really great breakdown of the third act I thought of while on the bus two months ago. All I have to do is figure out what notebook I had with me that day…

J.M. Phillippe is the author of Perfect Likeness. She has lived in the deserts of California, the
suburbs of Seattle, and the mad rush of New York City.  She worked as a freelance journalist before
earning a masters’ in social work.  She
works as a family therapist in Brooklyn, New York and spends her free-time
decorating her tiny apartment to her cat Oscar Wilde’s liking, drinking cider
at her favorite British-style pub, and training to be the next Karate Kid, one
wax-on at a time.

Plotting in Your Sleep

The great American author, Edna St. Vincent Millay, once wrote that she couldn’t get the woman onto the porch. What she meant, of course, was that she couldn’t figure out an organically sound reason for the character to do as the plot demanded.

I struggle with this situation all the time. Plotting a mystery is, for me, a combination of architecture and sleight of hand. I lay the foundation, plan the structure, and use language to entice my readers to pay attention to something over here while something else is happening over there, unnoticed. In order for this complex process to flow seamlessly, I need to create characters whose actions mesh with the plot’s development.

It’s hard. If I have a boorish man, for instance, who blusters and creates awkward moments, certainly my readers will focus on him. But if, later, the plot demands that the character finesse something, I’m sunk. A boorish man who blusters would never finesse anything. Reconciling these two needs—a solid, architecturally sound plot and actions driven not by the plot’s needs but by the characters’ personalities is, for me, the most challenging part of writing.

How do I do it? I don’t know. I don’t know why, when I’m mentally outlining the plot, I know that a certain female character is well-dressed and socially savvy. The fact that she is, however, becomes important later in the plot—she hosts a ladies’ luncheon. It’s a good thing she’s that sort of woman because I needed her to host that event—but I didn’t know that the luncheon would occur when I started to write the book—at least not consciously.

I’ve concluded that much of the intricacy of plotting occurs on some unconscious level. For instance, I know that when I need to resolve something, I get the problem clear in my head just before I go to sleep, and when I awaken—I have the answer. Sleeping on it, for me, actually works when I need to figure out how to get the woman onto the porch.

Maybe it’s that my cats sleep on my pillow—sometimes on my head. Here’s Angela, my love bunny, at the foot of the bed.

Jane Cleland

Jane K. Cleland writes the multiple-award nominated and Independent Mystery Booksellers Association best-selling Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery series, set on the rugged New Hampshire coast, [St. Martin’s Minotaur], an Antiques Roadshow for mystery fans. Killer Keepsakes is the fourth in the series. Ms. Cleland chairs the Wolfe Pack’s literary awards and is on the board of the Mystery Writers of America/New York Chapter. “Josie” stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. Her apartment (along with her husband and cats) was featured in a recent New York Times Habitat article. www.janecleland.net