Monday, April 24, 2017

Guest Post: (SOME) OF MY WRITING SECRETS by Jan Christensen

For this last Monday in April, we have a special guest post from our former President, Jan Christensen. This is the first of what will be quite a number of informative posts from Jan about writing and tips she has come up with over the years.


(SOME) OF MY WRITING SECRETS by Jan Christensen


I write "by the seat of my pants." If I outline, which I dislike doing in the first place, I lose interest in writing the story--it's like reading a book for the second time immediately after you just read it for the first time.

Boring!

But I've found out after writing several novels and lots of short stories, that there are some tricks that can help me with both character AND plot.

So, what I do now is think of several characters and start writing. After a while, I probably know what they do for a living, what they look like and some tiny bit about their personalities.

But I need more. I need to know their secrets. The sooner I know their secrets, the more I can ratchet up the conflict and tension for them. Because of course, they don't want anyone else to know their secrets, so they'll often do things than are unreasonable to keep them.

Each character also needs to be motivated by something. And then I have the fun of putting obstacles in her way to creative tension and conflict there, too.

So, two important ways to help yourself have interesting characters your readers will care about is to give each one (even many of the minor characters) a secret or two, and something they want badly.  It could be that what they want badly is to hide their secret.

It's up to you when to divulge the secrets. Often it's best to wait a while to do that, but other times it's good for the reader to know almost right away because it explains why the character acts as she does. And it's always delicious, isn't it, to be in on other people's secrets?


Jan Christensen ©2017

Jan Christensen lives in Corpus Christi, Texas, and has had nine novels and over seventy short stories published. www.janchristensen.com

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The SMFS at Malice Domestic 29 (April 28-30, 2017)



Established in 1989, Malice Domestic™ is an annual fan convention in the metropolitan Washington D.C. area that celebrates the traditional mystery, best typified by the works of Agatha Christie, containing no explicit sex, excessive gore, or violence.

Malice Domestic 29 (April 28- 30) sees four SMFS members up for the Agatha Award for Best Short Story. Those member nominees are:

“The Best-Laid Plans” by Barb Goffman in Malice Domestic 11: Murder Most Conventional (Wildside Press)

“The Mayor and the Midwife” by Edith Maxwell in Blood on the Bayou: Bouchercon Anthology 2016 (Down & Out Books)

“The Last Blue Glass” by B.K. Stevens in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine

“Parallel Play” by Art Taylor in Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning (Wildside Press)

Additionally, member Pam De Voe's book, Trapped: A Mei-hua Adventure is a finalist in the Best Children/Young Adult category.

Member Jay Hartman, editor of our 2015 first SMFS-member anthology, Flash and Bang, has confirmed that bookseller Mystery Loves Company will have copies for sale at the convention. Members with stories in the anthology are strongly encouraged to go by and sign the sale copies as well as spread the word that the anthology is present for sale.

Member Terrie Farley Moran also has set up a get together during the convention for SMFS attendees and family/friends. The location this year is the Bar of the Daily Grill (a restaurant in the hotel) at 5:30 on Friday, April 28, 2017.

Gerald So Interviews 2017 Derringer Finalist Libby Cudmore

Gerald So Interviews 2017 Derringer Finalist Libby Cudmore

Saturday, April 1, 2017

2017 Derringer Finalists

As posted to the SMFS list by Derringer Coordinator Dan Persinger, these are the finalists for 2017. Eligible SMFS members vote April 1-29, 2017. Winners will be announced on May 1, 2017.


For Best Flash (up to 1,000 words)

"Aftermath" by Craig Faustus Buck (Flash Bang Mysteries, Spring 2016)

"The Phone Call" by Herschel Cozine (Flash Bang Mysteries, Summer 2016)

"A Just Reward" by O'Neil De Noux (Flash Bang Mysteries, Winter 2016)

"The Orphan" by Billy Kring (Shotgun Honey, March 18, 2016)

"An Ill Wind" by R.T. Lawton (Flash Bang Mysteries, Spring 2016)


For Best Short Story (1,001 to 4,000 words)

"Beks and the Second Note" by Bruce Arthurs  (Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, December 2016)

The Way They Do It in Boston by Linda Barnes (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, September/October 2016)

"YOLO" by Libby Cudmore (BEAT to a PULP, May 2016)

The Woman in the Briefcase by Joseph D'Agnese (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, March/April 2016)

The Lighthouse by Hilde Vandermeeren trans. from Flemish by Josh Pachter (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, March/April 2016)


For Best Long Story (4,001 to 8,000 words)

"Swan Song" by Hilary Davidson (Unloaded: Crime Writers Writing Without Guns ed. Eric Beetner, Down & Out Books, April 2016)

"Effect on Men" by O'Neil De Noux, (The Strand Magazine, Issue XLVIII, Feb-May 2016)

"The Cumberland Package" by Robert Mangeot (Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, May 2016)

"Murder Under the Baobab" by Meg Opperman (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, November 2016)
"Breadcrumbs" by Victoria Weisfeld (Betty Fedora Issue Three: Kickass Women In Crime Fiction, September 2016)


For Best Novelette (8,000 to 20,000 words)

"Coup de Grace" by Doug Allyn (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, September/October 2016)

"The Chemistry of Heroes" by Catherine Dilts (Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, May 2016)

"Inquiry and Assistance" by Terrie Farley Moran (Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, January/February 2016)

"The Educator" by Travis Richardson (44 Caliber Funk: Tales of Crime, Soul, and Payback ed. Gary Phillips and Robert J. Randisi, Moonstone, December 2016)
"The Last Blue Glass" by B.K. Stevens (Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, April 2016)