The Race Card: The Place of Race in Mystery

I’m late to the show, but I just discovered Luther, starring Idris Elba. Netflix made it possible to binge-watch. I love a good police procedural, and this one was addictive. Luther has a moral code that due process doesn’t always fall in line with. He wants justice for the victims, at all cost. I couldn’t get enough of it. What did I love? Simple: the characters of Luther, Alice and Justin! (Don’t worry, no spoilers to follow). Set in London, its characters grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. Why was I so invested in the characters? I thirsted for more (and even now, I’m wishing for another episode). It is because they operated in the real world, and carried the baggage of what it meant to be r

Name That Character

How do writers name their characters? Is there a science behind it? No real science, but there’s plenty of advice online. Mystery author and writing guru Elizabeth Sims lists seven rules for picking names of fictional characters here. I agree with Ms. Sims on the importance of getting your era right. Check the Social Security Name Index before calling your World War II heroine Brittany. According to this resource the popular female name didn’t even exist until 1971. I was surprised to see that the name Clarence remains on the index. I’ve never personally met a Clarence and the name has certainly waned in popularity over the years. There was the character Clarence "Lumpy" Rutherford in the te

How Long Did it Take You to Write That???

This is a question authors hear at almost every book signing or speaking engagement they attend. “How long did it take you to write that?” Like most authors, I have trouble answering that one. Few authors write on a 9 to 5 schedule, 5 days a week, which is the standard American work week. Most authors have day jobs–they teach or work for a newspaper or manage an office or work in a hospital–so their writing occurs during lunch hour, in the evenings, or on weekends. I’ve never met a writer who tracked his or her hours! But the toughest issue is the definition of “writing.” Is going to the library for research considered “writing?” Is reading new publications by authors who write in the same g

Sisters in Crime/CV Went to Jail

Forensic science and details of how law enforcement operates play key roles in my police procedurals, and I’ve always believed that actually experiencing much of it, as I have at Writers Police Academy and elsewhere, has enhanced my writing. I find the same to be true of setting. It helps me tremendously to have walked around a city or to have visited the types of locales I’m planning to include in a story, even when I’m going to be making them up. Getting the setting right is very important. Whether I’m describing the inside of a courthouse, a squad car or a jail, I try to be as accurate as possible. Which is why I went to jail with fellow Sisters in Crime the other day. The visit was

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Sisters in Crime Central Virginia 

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I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. I’m a great place for you to tell a story and let your users know a little more about you.