For the Love of Genre

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The first Wednesday jostles itself front and center again, and that means it’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group day, when this amazing community of writers connect and reach out to support one another. We discuss struggles and triumphs and offer a words of encouragement to our fellow scriveners.

Captain Ninja’s February 7 question – What do you love about the genre you write in most often?

colonel mustardMy snap answer is, what’s NOT to love about mystery? But that’s a bit evasive, and in my twisted worlds (real and imaginary) when someone answers a question with a question, I am immediately suspicious that said answer-dodger is guilty of of nefarious doings.

Why won’t you answer the question? What are you hiding? Were you in the parlour with the candlestick?

No. I was definitely in the library with the revolver. And a glass of wine. [and everyone who knows me will swear to this on a Bible. Alibis are in place, people.]

Back to the question.

Mystery. The genre is so versatile. There’s something for everyone. Cozy, hard-boiled, soft-boiled, every possible career choice is portrayed as glamorous and exciting in the mystery world. Killers, thrillers, spillers. Historical mysteries, historical romance mysteries, regular romance mysteries. Funny, not funny, downright gory. Graphic torture scenes are disturbingly popular right now and I, for one, refuse to read one more book that includes detailed graphic violence against women, no matter how much the author insists that it is “necessary” to bring these crimes to light.

Oh wait. I’m supposed to talk about what I love about the genre, not meander off on a political rant about stories glorifying violence against women.

Ok, fine.

What I love. I love getting wrapped up a good puzzle. I love an intellectual challenge. I love a fast ride with compelling characters racing to make right out of wrong. I love learning something new. I love getting to know characters and following them on their journeys through a series.

Secret of the Old ClockBut mostly I love that a certain girl detective, while driving a blue roadster enroute to meet friends for luncheon, grabbed my imagination and planted a seed in my young mind. That seed sprouted into the ridiculous notion that girls like me could be independent and do amazing things at a time in space when the only career choices on my horizon were secretary and nurse. Perhaps only women of a certain age, when Nancy Drew was published pre-’70s, still remember this reality. Much progress has been made, but the journey is not complete.


Mystery has entertained, educated, and inspired me throughout my life. I hope my stories will do the same.


Many thanks to our awesome co-hosts for this posting of the IWSG:

Stephen Tremp
Pat Garcia
Angela Wooldridge
Victoria Marie Lees
Madeline Mora-Summonte

Posted in IWSG, Making Suspects Nervous, Write What You Know | 20 Comments

Virginia Woolf – A Birthday Homage

I have long admired the body of work produced by Virginia Woolf and find her personal life fascinating. And I must be backwards prescient, because I recently read in Writer’s Houses that Virginia wrote in green ink, a  practice I intend to acquire on April 1st (when I become the boss of me), before I knew this about her. [she did her editing in violet colored ink. I’ll have to give that some thought.]

Virginia Woolf and Lytton Strachey1

Lytton Strachey and Virginia Woolf
I chose this photograph, rather than one of the standard head shots of Virginia, because it shows her in motion, engaged, living, and OMG smoking a cigarette. Sitting with Virginia is Lytton Strachey, her great friend and confidante of her husband, Leonard. Lytton was part of the Bloomsbury Group [an English version of the Algonquin Round Table], an incestuous group of intellectuals, of which Virginia was a member.

I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse, perhaps, to be locked in.
Virginia Woolf

I first “met” Virginia Woolf in a college English Literature course featuring female authors in the burgeoning feminist heydays in the late 1970’s. Virginia held court in the excellent company of Edith Wharton, Anita Loos, Lillian Hellman, Sylvia Beach, Dorothy Parker, and Isak Dinesen [Karen Blixen]. Life was so shiny new and frantic. Unorthodox thoughts and ideas burst with promise, illumination, deception, and often disappointment.

A woman must have money and a room of her own
if she is to write fiction.
Virginia Woolf

Virginia did not trouble herself worrying about finding an agent or a  publisher. Quite ahead of their time, Virginia and Leonard set up Hogarth Press in 1917, publishing Virginia’s work, as well as others who would become notable 20th century authors, including T S Eliot, Katherine Mansfield, E M Forster, and Sigmund Freud. Indie authors everywhere are descendants of the Woolf’s ingenuity.

On the outskirts of every agony sits some observant fellow who points.
Virginia Woolf

Most of her life, Virginia struggled with mental illness and possibly an eating disorder. Various diary entries and letters reference a need to maintain a certain body weight, below which she heard voices and experienced hallucinations. A great intrigue is whether the acuity of her writing was because of, or in spite of, her illness.

My own brain is to me the most unaccountable of machinery – always buzzing, humming, soaring roaring diving, and then buried in mud.
And why? What’s this passion for?
Virginia Woolf

What, indeed? I ponder this very query about my own buzzing, humming mind.

Posted in Enjoying the Journey | 2 Comments

It’s a Miracle That I’m Not in Prison


THIS is a fabulous poster that will be framed and hung in a place of honor in my new writing room. It is a gift from my devious sister-in-crime, Anna Adams. For those of you not familiar with this painting, the title is ‘Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette’ by an obscure painter Dutch painter named Vincent Van Gogh. (possibly a self-portrait, but hard to tell without the flesh).

It will hang in my writing room. IF IT EVER GETS BUILT.

To wit: I have mentioned to Coe, off an on, for at least the last year, that I am taking the unused “formal” living room and turning it into a writing room. I have complained to Coe since Thanksgiving that our designer has not called me back to get said project started and I suspect he’s avoiding me. Says Coe, “Brian just lives across the street. Why don’t you hunt him down and kill him.” Coe is such a smart ass. If I kill Brian, I’ll never get my writing room done. Duh.

Finally, I actually booked AN APPOINTMENT with Brian for today. Oh joy! I tell Coe on Friday. “I’m seeing Brian on Monday!” Sunday, I am measuring, drawing TO SCALE floor plans, downloading photos, choosing flooring, choosing fabric, choosing paint. I am NOT wearing an invisible cape while busying myself with these tasks.

Today, I meet with Brian, portfolio of assembled plans in hand. Two hours later, we have hashed out everything and he knows exactly what I want. He has even suggested some really fabulous changes/additions/ideas that I have not thought of. He will draw up the plans and send to me for “red lines.” (that’s a professional term for “change shit I don’t like.”)

As I survey my new queendom in my overactive imagination, I am already curled up in the new window seat nestled between bookshelves, sipping wine, reading a good book. (while I’m taking a break from writing, having met my daily word quota, of course).

Back to reality at a late lunch. Coe is suddenly all, “you know, maybe it would be better if I moved into that room and you could have the den as your writing room.” Then he ticks off a list of reasons why this is so much better for him. Not on his list is how much closer to the front door he would be when the undertaker comes to take his bludgeoned body away. Oh wait, that one is better for me.

Did I mention “since last year”? “Since Thanksgiving”? “Last Friday”? “Sunday”?

The only reason Coe lives to eat his Breyer’s Natural Vanilla ice cream with Hershey’s Five Ingredient chocolate sauce is because Anna reminds me that if I kill him and get caught (HAH! Bloody unlikely) I won’t be able to go to Murder and Mayhem in March and Haunted Scotland in October.

So fine. I have lost two days of my life on a writing room that will never be. The alternate space is only marginally acceptable (because I’m going to pout about this for a while). It does, however, have a fireplace. And it’s more remote from the rest of the house. So when Anna comes for breakfast on Saturday, we’ll take new measurements and plot a new comfortably malevolent space.

And other miscellaneous malevolent stuff. Because I’m just flexible that way.

Posted in Criminal Intent, I Am Not Making This Up, Idle Threats, The Opposite of Making Progress | 4 Comments

If You Fail to Plan, You Are Planning to Fail

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The first posting of IWSG is upon us, and 2018 is shaping up to be a fabulous year! Benjamin Franklin’s sage words play right into the question Captain Ninja has posed for January: 

“What steps have you taken or plan to take to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?”

I love this question! As I have possibly mentioned before, I am the queen-clipart-word-small of the written goal plan. My father [gone now over 30 years] introduced me to the power of a written plan during some very challenging times in my teen years. I cultivated this habit and  credit the many successes I have achieved in life to my father’s wisdom and love. I have his original hardback copies of the Napoleon Hill and Dale Carnegie books in my library. And my favorite book on the subject is still Write it Down, Make it Happen, by Henriette Anne Klauser.

I am wrapping up a 2-year plan at the end of March, 2018, wherein I am transitioning to a full-time writing career. The first three months of this year will still be very busy writing-wise. My number one goal is to have an outline/synopsis finished [I am also the duchess of abandoned outlines and half-assed projects], ready to be expanded into a full length manuscript, beginning in April. To that end, I’m experimenting with the Snowflake Pro software. I’m finding it much, much easier to use than Scrivener’s.


I’ve made it clear to everyone that this transition is a career change and I will still be keeping regular working hours. I’m merely trading a business suit and power heels for yoga pants, comfy sweaters, and ballet flats! I’m drafting a new 3-year plan, which moves “writing” into the number 1 goal, replacing “transitioning to writing full-time” [mission {will be} accomplished!]

I expect some trial and error until I get into the rhythm of my new life. I’m looking forward to the wisdom, advice, and support of the IWSG community in this new phase of my writing career!

Many thanks to our awesome co-hosts for the January 3 posting:

Tyrean Martinson
Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor
Megan Morgan
Jennifer Lane
Rachna Chhabria

Posted in Enjoying the Journey, IWSG, Making Progress | 16 Comments

New Year’s Resolutions – a Pictorial

Writing the story

For 2018, I firmly resolve to:


Chapter 1

Quit my day job.



Read more books


ATFM judith

Kill more people (but only if they really need killing).


Fitbit not

Work out more.



Drink more wine.



Embrace the unusual.



Unleash the power.


Sparkling whine dog

Enjoy the journey.


Monkey typing

Finish my manuscript before he does.



Wishing you all the blessings of the new year!


Posted in Enjoying the Journey, Holiday Festivities, Idle Threats | Comments Off on New Year’s Resolutions – a Pictorial