How Do I Choose a Great Title?

Tell me, please! I, Donis, have just finished the first draft of a new manuscript, and I am having some trouble coming up with a great title. When my friends and family hear that a new book is underway, one of the first questions I get is, “What’s the title?” Most of the time I […] Read More →

Back to Writing Again

I was tempted to give this blog post some titles I am not entitled to use. Getting my groove back? Much as I love music and admire musicians, I am not one. Getting back in the zone? Still less am I an athlete. I was at the light-in-the-tunnel stage of the first draft of the […] Read More →

A Writer’s Most Important Book

I’ve had the great joy in recent years of twice teaching an intense college level course on mystery writing. On the third day of class I gave my students the only objective test in my course, one based on The Elements of Style, the classic, very brief manual also known as Strunk & White, after […] Read More →

Plot Construction Advice From Edyth Fermoy-Jones

I recently finished reading the country house murder mystery Thirteen Guests by J. Jefferson Farjeon, a British Library Crime Classic reprint published by Poisoned Pen Press, and was amused to see it included advice to writers on the same topic as mentioned in my blog last month, Plot Construction Advice From Dr Tom Greenslade Dr […] Read More →

From Hard-Boiled Detective Fiction to Film Noir

Earlier this month, the St Louis Jewish Film Festival asked me to introduce the screening of Fire Birds, an Israeli murder mystery set in Tel Aviv (with English subtitles). To prepare my introductory remarks, I watched the film. Somewhere toward the middle of the movie, I had my epiphany. “Thank you, Mr. Hammett,” I said. […] Read More →

Balancing Acts

Frederick Van Rensselaer Dey (pronounced “die”) was my great grandfather. He earned a law degree from Columbia University and practiced law for a time, but dropped all of that to write. Mysteries, in fact.   He was one of the authors of the Nick Carter detective dime novels. He claimed to have written a THOUSAND […] Read More →

Mary Lee the Shark Makes Her Mystery Debut

The fifth book in my Tai Randolph series, Reckoning and Ruin, takes place in Savannah, Georgia. Because Tai is an experienced and capable sailor, she is comfortable setting off on a fishing excursion to pry information out of a reluctant boat captain. I sent Trey, her partner in crime-solving, along with her because he prefers […] Read More →

Among Friends

Is there any place as welcoming as a library? Alert readers of this blog will recall that just after moving last year I wrote about the wonderful library system we have here in Pueblo, Colorado, with its flagship main building sitting majestically on a hill overlooking the town. A couple weeks ago I was honored […] Read More →

Less is More, Right?

Last week I fielded some interview questions, one of which was “What are you working on now?” That question threw me. Because it depended upon whether now meant today, this week, this month, this year, and whether working meant actively focusing on or keeping work in mind while looking for new insights and inspirations. Right […] Read More →

When Events Go Wrong

Last weekend I witnessed one of the most glorious examples of how to recover when an event goes astray. My granddaughter was married in Manteo North Carolina and the bride, groom, and the parents had worked hard to create a beautiful outdoor venue. Both grandmothers, the groom’s parents, and most of the groomsmen were bused […] Read More →