Special guest, Judy Penz Sheluk

I am delighted to have Judy Penz Sheluk visiting with us today. If you were at Bouchercon 2017 in Toronto, you might have met her. And if you follow her on Facebook, you’ve seen her adorable Golden Retriever Gibbs (which endears her to me, since Jim Duncan’s faithful canine companion is a Golden named Rizzo).

Judy is here to talk about the second in the Glass Dolphin Mystery series, Hole in One. Take it away, Judy!

Getting Ready for Golf Season

michelle & judy
With friend, Michelle, at the Fairmont Southampton Golf Course in Bermuda.

If you live somewhere that golfing year round is possible, lucky you. Where I live (about 90 minutes northwest of Toronto, Canada), our season is relatively short—in fact I like to joke we have two seasons: Winter and July.

That’s a bit of an exaggeration, of course, but best-case scenario, we might get on the links by mid-late April, though if you’re a betting person (or like to golf without wearing dollar store gloves), May is far more likely. From that point on, I find myself craving the heat and humidity of July and August (temps in the 90s aren’t unusual) and not just because I should have been born on the equator: I firmly believe the hotter and stickier the weather, the further the ball travels. And trust me, my game needs all the help it can get.

It was while playing golf one summer day at Silver Lakes Golf & Country Club (http://www.silverlakesgolf.com/) in Holland Landing, Ontario, that I thought of the premise for my latest book, A Hole in One. Readers of The Hanged Man’s Noose, the first book in my Glass Dolphin Mystery series, may know that my fictional town of Lount’s Landing is loosely based on Holland Landing, where I lived for many years.

Hole 3
Hole 3: The third hole at Silver Lakes, and the early inspiration for A HOLE IN ONE.

Anyway, I digress…there I was on the third hole, a par three surrounded by trees, sand traps and a big old pond, when I hit my tee shot straight into the woods. When I went to hunt for it, using my putter while trying to avoid poison ivy, I thought, “What if I found a corpse here?” Here’s a teaser from the book:

Arabella Carpenter let the others go first. All three managed to clear the pond with their tee shot and land on the green, but not one was anywhere close to getting a hole in one. Arabella breathed a sigh of relief—since they were sponsoring the contest, their foursome might not be eligible to win, but it still freaked her out to think someone else might. She went through her mental prep, took her swing, and watched as her ball went directly into the woods.

“Hey, you made it over the water,” Hudson said, hopping into his cart. “For someone just starting out, that’s not a bad shot.”

Arabella caught Emily’s look and smiled. He really was a nice guy. “Thanks, Hudson. Whether I can find my ball is an entirely different story. Why don’t I look for it while you guys putt in? I’m sure one of you will be able to make the shot.”

They crossed the pond on a wooden bridge just wide enough for their golf carts, parked on the path next to the hole, and grabbed their putters. Luke, Hudson, and Emily went to the green and began debating which ball to hit. Arabella trundled over to the woods, feeling stupid and hoping like hell it wasn’t infested with poison ivy. The woods were thicker than she’d expected. She walked in a couple of feet, using her putter to push the branches aside.

That’s when she started to scream.

If I’ve gotten your attention, you can find A Hole in One at all the usual suspects in trade paperback and all eBook formats. I’ve even included some links to make it easy for you! And if you want to find out more about my books, and me, check out my website, http://www.judypenzsheluk.com.

9781941295731-cov.inddPurchase Links

Amazon: http://authl.it/9f0

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-hole-in-one-judy-penz-sheluk/1127967500?ean=2940158640827

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/a-hole-in-one-3

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Judy_Penz_Sheluk_A_Hole_in_One?id=IERMDwAAQBAJ

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/a-hole-in-one/id1350574649?mt=11

Barking Rain Press: https://barkingrainpress.org/a-hole-in-one/ – 1473022241950-de2dbbf6-9e98

About the book:

Hoping to promote the Glass Dolphin antiques shop, co-owners Arabella Carpenter and Emily Garland agree to sponsor a hole in one contest at a charity golf tournament. The publicity turns out to be anything but positive, however, when Arabella’s errant tee shot lands in the woods next to a corpse.

They soon learn that the victim is closely related to Arabella’s ex-husband, who had been acting as the Course Marshal. With means, opportunity and more than enough motive, he soon becomes the police department’s prime suspect, leaving Arabella and Emily determined to clear his name–even if they’re not entirely convinced of his innocence.

Dogged by incriminating online posts from an anonymous blogger, they track down leads from Emily’s ex-fiance (and the woman he left Emily for), an Elvis impersonator, and a retired antiques mall vendor with a secret of her own.

All trails lead to a mysterious cult that may have something to do with the murder. Can Arabella and Emily identify the killer before the murderer comes after them?


Judy Penz Sheluk’s debut mystery novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose, was published in July 2015, and in audiobook in November 2017. Skeletons in the Attic, the first book in her Marketville Mystery Series, was first published in August 2016, and will be re-released in trade paperback and all e-book formats in December 2017. The audiobook version was released in November 2017.

Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she serves on the Board of Directors representing Toronto/Southern Ontario.

Find Judy on her website/blog at http://www.judypenzsheluk.com, where she interviews other authors, shares “New Release Mondays” and blogs about her writing journey.


Seven Sinister Sisters

Seven Sinister Sisters headshot collage

Today, Mysteristas is hosting the Seven Sinister Sisters blog tour. We’re seven mystery authors, all members of Sisters in Crime, who have new books out this spring. We’re bopping around cyberspace answering one question whenever we land.

Today’s question … Do you put real people/places in your mysteries? Why or why not?

Cathy Perkins takes umbrage with the premise of the question. “You mean characters aren’t real?”

Of course they are, Cathy.

“Whew. Because I know many talented, hard-working women Holly’s age and a few with her off-beat sense of humor, but she’s a character who evolved as the story came together. I knew she’d be curious and tenacious, as well as want to do the right thing for her murdered friend. JC is a mashup of guys I’ve met over the years. While he’s good at his job (and the sexual chemistry between Holly and JC was so fun to write), I wanted him to be very human, with his own baggage to carry. Clearly, Holly and JC still have obstacles to overcome, which show up in IN IT FOR THE MONEY. The minor characters are often drawn from real life. Dickerman, aka The Shrimp, is based on a patrol officer I had to deal with in a volunteer position – and his name is from a person who annoyed me for years. Word of warning – authors do stuff like that.”

“Authors also donate naming rights to charity auctions and create a fictional character with the name of a living person, like I do,” says Edith Maxwell. “In my contemporary mysteries, I don’t include real people. I need my characters to serve and guide the story, and if I had a real person in there, they might not be willing to do what the character needs to do. But in my Quaker Midwife Mysteries, set in 1888, I include John Greenleaf Whittier as a character. He lived down the street from my midwife and helped design the Friends Meetinghouse where she worships (and where I do on Sunday mornings). Because the series is set in the past, I feel safe including him.”

Shawn McGuire agrees. “I think whether we realize it or not, real people influence our characters, but I don’t put actual people on my pages. I think doing so can be a very touchy thing and potentially open an author up to trouble. Picking and choosing quirky characteristics makes for great characters, though. Regarding places, I borrow things from places I’ve been for my settings. For example, Mackinaw Island, Michigan is responsible for the fact that cars are not allowed in Whispering Pines, the village in my current series. I’m having great fun creating a place where I’d love to live.

“I like the quirky characteristics, too,” Patricia Hale says. “I don’t put real people in, although I do draw on the characteristics of people I know when creating a character. For example, Britt Callahan, the female half of my PI team, smokes Honey Berry cigars. A friend of mine mentioned that her husband hates this vice of hers and she has to hide in the garage. I thought it was an interesting quirk. I do put real places in my books because I enjoy reading a story set in a town/state I’m familiar with. I can visualize exactly where a scene is taking place. I like that. I hope my readers do too.”

Becky Clark begins with a real person’s photo. “I may start with a character who looks like a celebrity or someone I know, but by the time they go through my grinder, they’re completely different. Settings are trickier. I want authenticity, but I don’t want anybody mad at me for killing a character in their establishment. In FICTION CAN BE MURDER I use names of streets and landmarks in the Denver area, which you might recognize if you’ve been here, and that’s always fun. But specific locations I fictionalize so I can have the doors in the right place or so the victim can get murdered. I don’t want people fact-checking or being pulled out of the story over stuff that doesn’t matter.”

“As soon as I started fleshing out the first of my Sally Solari mysteries, I knew the town of Santa Cruz would play a starring role,” says Leslie Karst. “Its old-time Italian fishermen and restaurant owners, now having to come to terms with the newly-arrived techies and hipsters and their passion for the modern food movement, make for a colorful cast of characters. And with the stunning beauty of the town’s coastline, redwood forests, and famous roller coaster as a backdrop, it was a no-brainer that I had to use the real Santa Cruz in my books.”

Sue Star’s Nell Letterly mysteries take place in her hometown of Boulder, Colorado. “It’s a real place, and the joke in Colorado is that it’s the “Republic of Boulder,” referring to its … er, shall we say its special uniqueness? I can’t resist poking gentle fun at Boulder and its plans to save the world. But at the same time, I don’t want to offend anyone. That’s why I make up specific sites within the larger confines of a real place. In MURDER BY MOOSE, the Colorado mountains are very real, but the dude ranch setting is entirely fictional.

Would you be interested in having a character in a book named after you? Would you want to be the killer, the victim, or the sleuth? Do you like reading mysteries set someplace you’ve been before? Does it bug you when the author alters it to suit their needs? Or would you rather read about fictional places or places you’ve never been? 

* * *

To celebrate our new releases, the Seven Sinister Sisters are having a giveaway! Seven lucky winners will receive an ebook from one of us. One GRAND PRIZE winner will receive a signed copy from each of us! Enter to win by leaving a comment below. Our tour runs from January 6th to April 30th and we’re answering a different question at each blog. Leave a comment at each blog for more entries! We’ll draw the winner from all the combined comments at the end of our tour. If the grand prize winner is out of the United States, we’ll send an Amazon gift card for the equivalent amount.

Watch our Facebook page for the next stop on the tour.

* * *

For more info on the Seven Sinister Sisters …

Patricia Hale

Edith Maxwell

Leslie Karst

Cathy Perkins

Shawn McGuire

Sue Star

Becky Clark


Tour graphic Seven Sinister Sisters

It’s all in the details, by Kait Carson

I’ve been reading a lot of books lately with an eye to scene and setting. As a writer, that’s a hard balance to achieve, as a reader, well, badly done details can create sonic booms as the book hits the wall.

Christopher Booker, yes, the Booker of the Booker Prize, opined there were only seven basic plots and from these plots, all stories are written. I suggest the list narrows if you’re a genre writer. So, how do you set your take apart from others? Easy, and hard, it’s in the details.

Keys waterI write two series, one set in the Florida Keys, and the other in Miami. Tropical South Florida. Cool…but how do I differentiate my murder mysteries from any of zillion others set in Kansas or Katmandu, or even from each other? Details! All murder mysteries have a villain, a victim, and a sleuth. Mine operate in steamy subtropical of Florida. I have to bring the reader into the setting, but not beat them over the head with the heat!

I like to do it by making setting a character on its own. The Florida Keys, known for reefs Hurricane Dennisand wrecks, conch, and tropical fish. Days of endless sun and unforgiving storms, Hemmingway, fishing and Jimmy Buffet. Miami, once known for cocaine cowboys and Miami Vice, now known for Latin American investors, a burgeoning economy, drugs (some things never change), the Cuban influence, and a place where you can reinvent yourself. These elements set my stories apart from other mysteries and from each other. The question and the problem become how to convey each setting naturally.

The writer doesn’t want to start every scene with a weather report, or a restatement of the obvious, so how to texture a story to bring the reader into the setting and scene without stating the obvious? Detail! Hayden may finish off a meal with Key Lime Pie, orkey lime pie order yellowtail snapper for her main course. She dives for Florida lobster, a/k/a crawfish, and she complains about the tourists and shares her view of how to spot them (shorts and socks with sandals in the middle of a Keys winter). The diamond reflection of the sun on the water tells the reader that Hayden is in a dive boat. The wrecks and the reefs add authenticity to her story.

Azucar cafeCatherine is in a more difficult situation. Miami has become a metropolitan city. It’s as close to New York as it is to the South. How then do details work in her story? She orders café con leche, or a cafecito from a storefront window. Her dinner of choice might include ropa veija and her friends are an international mix of Cuban, American, and Haitian. Like all Floridians, Catherine complains about the traffic and the drivers. Her city is a mix of extremely wealthy and poor. Very little middle class. She pays tribute to the farms in the Redlands and the homes on Star Island. Catherine is cosmopolitan, with a little bit of country.

In writing, and in life, it’s all in the details.LIfeguard station

Readers what are your favorite details and how do they set the scene?

Writers, how do you infuse details into your stories?

Keys Water by stingrea1; Key Lime Pie by rj_sinder; Hurricane Dennis by 12019; Lifeguard station by Zopalic courtesy of Pixabay

Cafe Azucar by Infrogmation of New Orleans courtesy of Creative Commons


Write. Read. Revise. Repeat.

Although sadly ignored, I have another blog out there, and the tagline is “Write. Read. Revise. Repeat.” The simplicity of the words combined with the staccato beats of the periods speaks to me, although I couldn’t tell you why. Perhaps the key is that these words are so simple, so direct when used this way, that its impossible to misunderstand what I have to do.

Yesterday was a read day. A dear friend and member of my writers’ group has begun splitting her time between New England and Florida. She was in town for a few weeks, and I was thrilled to see her in person last week during our critique session (we’ve been calling her so she can still join us, but it’s not really the same). This week we met for some writing time, just the two of us.

As much as writing is a solitary exercise, there’s something special about sharing that solitary exercise with a kindred spirit. I’m doing the writing on my own, and yet sharing my space with someone doing the same thing. I’ve found that joint writing time keeps me focused, as I don’t stray onto the internet, and I’m away from home so I’m not tempted to do those pesky chores instead of wrestle my plot into submission.

For me, the writing process includes the “read” and “revise” parts, so when I say we had a writing session, it can include those other activities. Today’s reading exercise provided a much needed confidence boost. While I try to plow forward and not let myself become sidelined by wordsmithing rather than finishing the story, sometimes I get distracted or stumped, and lose confidence in the tale I’m spinning. When I go back to the beginning and read what I’ve written, I can find myself pleasantly surprised, or at least reminded that yes, there’s a good story developing!

Of course, within the first twelve pages I captured at least fifteen notes: plot holes, missing details, or areas where I need to expand when I get to that revise state. For instance, I never explain or describe what the main character is wearing in the first chapter, nor do I capture the time of year. (Oops.) Is an armed alarm shown by a green light or a red? But, the reading step is most often energizing for me. I get excited about the story all over again, even when noting things that need to improve.

Sometimes, those notes turn into exciting side-topics to research, too. Today, I realized that I have a safe house with no discernible floor plan, and what I’ve described doesn’t make sense. While the actual floor plan won’t be in the book, as the writer, I need to be able visualize this space, well and clearly.  Some rainy day I’ll be working with Mr. Google, finding just the right former gate/carriage house-turned-guest cottage for this story, and I’ll save the floor plans to my Pinterest site.  (If you happen to live in one of these, let me know.)

I’m back to writing now. The good news is, I’ve fallen in love with this story all over again, and I can’t wait to write what happens next.  Hopefully, someday, y’all will get to pick up your own copy of this story in a local bookstore to read!

Interview: Suzanne Adair

Please welcome Suzanne Adair, author of the Michael Stoddard American Revolution mysteries!

180212KillerDebtDraftCoverMysteristasWhat made you interested in writing this particular story? Tell us a bit about your new book. What inspired you to write it?

Killer Debt is the fourth book of the Michael Stoddard American Revolution mysteries, with a projected six books total in the series. The setting is North Carolina, in the year 1781. Redcoats successfully occupied the town of Wilmington, North Carolina from January through November 1781. Nowhere in my American history classes was this victory for the Crown forces mentioned. Neither did North Carolina receive much attention when it came to the Revolutionary War—yet the occupation of Wilmington enabled the British to commandeer much of North Carolina and stall the war for almost a year. I wanted to explore this fascinating fact in fiction, in a series. Hence the Michael Stoddard American Revolution mysteries.

In addition, a number of historical events in North Carolina prior to and during the war had captured my attention while I was researching, and I wanted to write about them, too. One such event was a visit made to Crown-occupied Wilmington in July 1781 by William Hooper, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Surely Hooper must have been on King George III’s “most wanted” list. Why did he go into that lion’s den? More importantly, why did the British let him leave? And how could I weave this stellar bit of history into a subplot in a murder mystery?

I’m always curious how people more than two hundred years in the past dealt with the kinds of issues that have clung to humanity all along. You know, the same old desires for money, power, and sex that fuel modern crimes we read about every day in the news. In Killer Debt, I decided to explore desperation and greed—and what happens to a man’s self-respect and sense of honor when he realizes that sometimes justice cannot be delivered unless you break the rules.

How did you get started writing? How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing fiction since I was in second grade. I’d been through the eye of a hurricane at home with my family. A few weeks later, I caught the mumps and was quarantined at home while I was contagious. Since I didn’t feel bad, I was really bored. I zipped through a stack of  library books. Then my mother gave me paper and a pencil and told me to write something. And after that genie was out of the bottle, I didn’t stop writing.

What do you think makes a good story? How do you incorporate that into your books?

A good story must have solid conflict and at least one relatable character.

Seems like I’m reading more and more fiction lately that has little or no conflict, as if writers are afraid of causing their characters pain. But a story doesn’t get rolling until conflict arises. A character (most often the protagonist) wants something bad enough to go get it. Then that protagonist must stand up to whatever comes her way from other characters and story elements such as weather and wild animals—anything that prevents the protagonist from easily getting what s/he wants.

Conflict in the Michael Stoddard American Revolution mystery series comes from several angles. A warn-torn setting like Revolutionary North Carolina provides exterior conflict in the form of opponent armies clashing, not to mention individual miscreants who leap in and take advantage of wartime chaos. Captain Michael Stoddard also finds plenty of interpersonal conflict from other characters while he’s investigating murders, chief among them Fairfax, a psychopathic fellow officer. Even supporting characters who aren’t enemies often provide conflict; they have their own goals, and no two people will always agree. And Michael finds plenty of conflict within himself.

Protagonists don’t have to be squeaky clean and likeable, but they must possess a few qualities that encourage readers to care what happens to them next in the story and follow along with all the conflicts. A good example of this kind of protagonist is the titular character in Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley. Ripley is a con-artist and a killer. He’s also clever, creative, and focused. As his own scheming ensnares him deeper and deeper, the reader commits to the story, invested in seeing how Ripley will extricate himself from each mess he’s made. If a reader doesn’t care what happens next, the writer hasn’t created a good story. And there’s a lot of fiction published today with zero relatable characters.

About the marketing thing—love it, hate it?

I love scheduling author events, getting out and meeting readers, giving presentations, and teaching workshops. I spend so much time by myself with just my imagination for company that I’m grateful for opportunities to interact with other people.

I love editing, too. When it’s time to edit, the difficult work—getting to The End of a first draft—is done. Editing lets me shape the story better, elevate it from mediocre to great. How exciting to watch it come together with each editing pass! And yes, I’ll kill my darlings if it makes a story better.

What I hate is the publishing tasks: selecting someone to do cover design and interior design, then following up with them to make sure they haven’t screwed up. On several books, I wound up with amateurs who’d touted themselves as professionals and cost me huge amounts of time and extra money. Very frustrating. Why make so much effort? It reflects negatively on my professionalism if I sell a shoddy looking product to someone.

Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.

Michael Stoddard is a mashup of Bernard Cornwell’s Richard Sharpe (but more polished) + Martin Freedman’s Dr. Watson + Daniel Boone. And perhaps a pinch of Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden, without the magic.


AdairSuzanneMedResAward-winning novelist Suzanne Adair is a Florida native who lives in North Carolina. Her mysteries transport readers to the Southern theater of the American Revolution, where she brings historic towns, battles, and people to life. She fuels her creativity with Revolutionary War reenacting and visits to historic sites. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking, dancing, and hiking. Killer Debt, book #4 of her Michael Stoddard American Revolution Mystery series, will be released 9 May 2018 after a crowdfunding campaign during March 2018. Check her [http://www.SuzanneAdair.net/]home page for the latest information.

Web site  http://www.SuzanneAdair.net/

Blog  http://www.SuzanneAdair.net/blog/

Facebook  http://www.facebook.com/Suzanne.Adair.Author/

Twitter  http://www.twitter.com/Suzanne_Adair/

Book description

A slain loyalist financier, a patriot synagogue, a desperate debtor. And Michael Stoddard, who was determined to see justice done.

July 1781. The American Revolution rages in North Carolina. Redcoat investigator Captain Michael Stoddard is given the high-profile, demanding job of guarding a signer of the Declaration of Independence on a diplomatic mission to Crown-occupied Wilmington. When a psychopathic fellow officer with his own agenda is assigned to investigate a financier’s murder, Michael is furious. The officer’s threats to impose fines on the owner of a tavern and link her brother to the financier’s murder draw Michael into the case—to his own peril and that of innocent civilians. For neither killer nor victim are what they first seem.

Buy links for the Michael Stoddard series

Deadly Occupation

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1VNuBAc

Nook: http://bit.ly/1VNuvIP

Apple: http://apple.co/1PpzFG1

Regulated for Murder

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1jCIq1y

Nook: http://bit.ly/1iHjaUj

Apple: http://apple.co/1WFEIEc

A Hostage to Heritage

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1hhKdpw

Nook: http://bit.ly/1o7r5zQ

Apple: http://apple.co/1WIBDmW

Salmon Recipes


King salmon filetIn the continued effort to share tasty things to do with last summer’s fish, I bring you two recipes.




Baked Salmon Filet

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Place filet in baking dish or sheet. In this picture, I baked a 1.5 lb. king salmon filet my daughter caught last summer.

Dot the fish with butter. Add salt and pepper, garlic powder and dill.

Loosely tent with foil.

Bake until you can smell it in the next room. That took 45 minutes for this filet. It should look dry in the middle and skin should come off easily.

Note: if you line the pan with aluminum foil before you bake the salmon, when you lift the fish off the foil, the skin will stick to the foil.  Two benefits: You know the fish is done, and it gets rid of the skin (in case you think skin is yucky).

Pirok (Russian Fish Pie)

This recipe comes from my friend Ron Newcome with a post script from Jaime Hidalgo.

6 cups cooked rice

½ medium head of cabbage, diced

5 medium carrots, shredded

1 large onion, diced

1 salmon

6 eggs

Sauté vegetables in butter or margarine.

Line the bottom of a pan with pie crust. Layer with ½ of sautéed veggies, layer salmon next, add salt and pepper. Lightly stir eggs (Jaime says add some Worcestershire sauce), spread over fish, layer remaining veggies, then remaining rice and then put on top crust, seal edges, puncture holes and bake 1 hour at 350.

Note: that’s a lot of food; it would easily fill two pie pans. I baked it without the crusts in a casserole to make it gluten-free. It was quite tasty. But had no eye-appeal so I didn’t photograph it.


A Writer’s Helper

When the weather outside is nasty…

Here’s what it looks like inside:


Scout was rescued from cold, wet streets in Oregon 12 years ago, and she still can’t quite warm up.

You might think she’s just a lazy fat cat, but you’d be wrong.  Scout has very important tasks in my house.  She’s my own personal writer’s helper.

  • She wakes me up at 4:30 every morning with a gentle tap of her paw on my forehead, reminding me that it’s time to get up.
  • Mission accomplished, she makes herself scarce with a pre-dawn nap.  There’s no chance of interruptions now, so I can get to work.
  • But ah!  The dangers of a sedentary job!  She reminds me to get up and stretch every once in a while.  Might as well feed her while I’m at it.
  • As the day wears on and other family members are up and about, she guards my reading chair by the fire, securing it so that no one else can use it.
  • Then, when it’s time, she warms my lap while I ponder issues regarding my work in progress.

A cat’s day is never done.

It’s like that for writers, too.

As Scout and I sit in front of a cozy fire while a storm rages outside, I am pondering my WIP.  Peg started me thinking about this last week when she described her writing process.  While I do consider myself a pantser, I have to know the world of my story in great detail before I can jump into the first draft.  It’s a discovery process, not an outline.   That’s where I am now, becoming acquainted with the world of my new book.

One of the points to consider is the outer story vs the inner story.

In mysteries, the outer story is usually the crime.  It’s like the storm raging outside my window.  The inner story is how that crime impacts the heroine of my WIP.  I think of this as her heart (or, the cozy hearth).  The inner story is what the book is really about.  The crime sets things in motion.  There will be a lot of obstacles that try to keep her from solving the crime, but in the end, her inner story gives her the skills and necessary strength to overcome the outer story.

And all this noodling comes with help from a cat!  Who knew?

Do you have a furry helper, too?