Monday, November 27, 2023

Blogs for Mystery Writers

By Elaine L. Orr

You could spend a day going from blog to blog about writing mysteries, learning about mysteries, or just plain reading them.

My favorite blog is Writers Who Kill, which has varied and thought-provoking posts from a group of mystery authors and occasional guest posts. Usually 15-20 posts per months. You might like a recent one on creating content for your blog.

If you want an overview of several sites, check out this article on the top six sites (updated in 2022). Detailed descriptions of sites such as The Mystery Writers Forum and several organizations for writers, such as Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

More for readers than authors is the Cozy Mystery List Blog. Excellent compilation of upcoming books in this popular genre. Superb index so you can scan years of books. 

If you're just getting into mysteries, go beyond current authors. Ah Sweet Mystery! covers the golden age of detectives. Think Agatha Christie, Alfred Hitchcock -- a great mix of authors and characters such as Lord Peter Wimsey, Miss Marple, Dr. Gideon Fell, Father Brown, Inspector Maigret, Edgar Allen Poe, Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Charlie Chan, Ellery Queen and Nero Wolfe!

This will get you started. I'll post more another time.

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To learn more about Elaine L. Orr, visit her website or sign up for her newsletter

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

How Life Experiences Affect Writing -- Even if You Don't Know it

By Elaine L. Orr

Characters in my books or stories periodically end up in a hospital emergency room, usually because of a diabolical act by another character. They don't stay long, but I'm often told how realistic my hospital scenes are. 

I should hope so. I can't count the number of orthopedic incidents (for want of a better term) I've been through. I could win any race on crutches. What it's given me is perspective. What's it like to ride on a gurney? You can count ceiling tiles or lights as you whiz by. When you're wheeled into an operating room, it's really cold.

Here's an exchange at the beginning of Vague Images, a Jolie Gentil book.

 IF IT HADN’T been for the deer that ran in front of my car I wouldn’t have hurt my foot jamming on the brakes. If I hadn’t hurt my foot I wouldn’t have gone to Ocean Alley’s hospital. If I hadn’t been in the hospital I wouldn’t have seen him. Not that I could follow him. I was on my butt in the emergency room.

Doctor Birdbaum raised his voice. “Jolie, you need to lie still while I wrap your ankle.”

“I need to…”

“You need to be still.” His voice was firm.

I stared at the fluorescent light above me and winced. “Ow. Does it have to be that tight?”

“Only if you want it to do any good.” Dr. Birdbaum is a short, round man who rarely exhibits any sense of humor. I didn’t think he was kidding now.

Riding a subway helps with scenes where people are squeezed together so tightly burping is not an option. If you've every rear-ended the car in front of you, you'll remember the feelings of guilt and the strong desire to yell at yourself for following too closely. You don't have to write a car accident scene, the sense of how-could-I-be-so-dumb can apply to many settings.

In talking about her character, Miss Marple, Agatha Christie said: "She's had a long life of experience in noticing evil, fancying evil, suspecting evil and going forth to do battle with evil. - Author: Agatha Christie

Dame Agatha added many experiences for Miss Marple, and she seized them all.

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To learn more about Elaine L. Orr, visit her website or sign up for her newsletter