Confessions of a Contest Judge

Recently, I judged entries in several writing contests. In my pre-pub days I entered several contests, and though I never won, I learned a great deal from the judges and their comments. With my own experiences in mind, I do my best to make constructive comments. Pre-pub writers are often hungry for feedback (as I was) so I give as much as I can. I assume if you’ve entered a contest you want to learn. So, no sugar coating, sugar. You’re going to get an honest assessment. Critiques can sting, but the goal is to make the book better. And even I’m not gushing over your work, I will always find something positive to say. It takes guts to put your ideas on a page and share them, and I resp

DARPA? ... What?

DARPA - have you heard of it? It stands for: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. If you haven't heard of them, you might have heard some of the inventions that DARPA research helped bring to reality: the Internet Windows and the World Wide Web Video conferencing Google maps GPS Stealth aircraft Your tax dollars, ladies and gentleman, hard at work. Here are 10 incredible, mind boggling research projects they're working on right now! Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) - that is bullets that can change directions! Flying trucks Transformer program flying cars Legged Squad Support System (LS3) - a four legged robot meant to go where the soldiers go and carry their burdens. Z-ma

How My Writing Changed My Views

I enjoy setting my mysteries in the Roaring Twenties, because no other decade offers more chaos and crime than the 1920s. This was the era when Prohibition turned ordinary citizens into criminals and brought about organized crime, skyrocketing violence, and the corruption of police departments, courts, and government throughout America. A perfect backdrop for a murder mystery! I can’t help packing my stories with details that bring the Twenties to life and highlight the progress society has made in the hundred years since. And no one is more surprised than I to find my own views about certain current controversies changing because of my immersion in this era. For example, a deeper understand

The Lure of Foreign Locations for the Mystery Genre

Some of my favorite authors of mystery/romance/suspense/thriller/crime novels write about and/or live in foreign countries. Give me a novel, especially a series, located in the English or Scottish countryside, Quebec, Australia, or Sweden and I’ll read everything the authors have ever written. Why? I just do. Maybe I find the quaintness and slower action of a mystery that takes place in a small hamlet in the countryside a nice balance to the fast-paced urban mystery set in a metropolis of concrete and steel. Maybe it’s because I love picturesque places with a history; after all, isn’t that why people travel. Maybe it’s because I personally favor living in smaller, established communities whe

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Sisters in Crime Central Virginia 

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