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Thank you to the excellent Bob Byrd at Byrdworks for tagging me in the Sisters In Crime September Blog Hop. The month is at an end, so the hop may end with me.

Up until now, all of my books have been women’s fiction. I will continue to work on my next women’s fiction novel, but I am also working on a mystery series based on two lifelong friends who love to travel and have a bad habit of stumbling over dead bodies.

On with the blog hop answers –

• Which authors have inspired you? Some of my biggest influences are mystery writers – Elizabeth George for the way she’s developed Tommy Linley and Sgt. Havers’ characters over the many books; Agatha Christie for the way she writes about evil in a small community, and Ruth Rendell for the way she explores the psychology of a killer. If I could be half as masterful as these ladies, I would feel like a success.

• Which male authors write great women characters? Ellery Queen and Colin Dexter. Which female authors write great male characters? Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, PD James, Martha Grimes, Elizabeth George, and Josephine Tey.

• If someone said “Nothing against women writers, but all of my favorite crime fiction authors happen to be men,” how would you respond? First I would ask them if they equated crime fiction with police procedurals. Then I would tell them to read a book by Ruth Rendell or PD James to know what a real psychological thriller is like.

• What’s the best part of the writing process for you? I love playing with the plot and putting all the pieces together. What’s the most challenging? The hardest part for me is the endless seeming editing process and the checking and rechecking of grammar and spelling issues.

• Do you listen to music while writing? What’s on your playlist? I do listen to music. Sometimes I listen to quiet jazz. Chet Baker and Miles Davis are favorites of mine. Other times, I listen to old Pink Floyd recordings when I need a kind of psychedelic feeling to my words.

• What books are on your nightstand right now? I’ve always got a bunch of books going at the same time. Today, I am halfway through the audio version of Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty which has been excellent so far. On the surface it is a light story about a competitive group of kindergarten moms, but it is much deeper than that. Moriarty is my kind of writer – funny yet deathly serious. I have also been listening to The Case Has Altered by Martha Grimes as my ‘relax before sleep’ book. I am a huge Martha Grimes fan. I thought this was a new book when I picked it up from Audible but about a third of the way through, I realized I read this book at some point before. I will keep listening because I don’t remember who the killer was and I am enjoying the story again. My current ‘morning writing craft book’ right now is Wired For Story by Lisa Cron. It is great. Cron discusses the craft of writing in terms of how story effects the readers brain as they are reading and how to write so the reader gets the best possible experience. I highly recommend it. Lastly, I am reading an advance copy of The Winter Boy by Sally Wiener Grotta on my Kindle. The book will be out in November. I have not read beyond the first few chapters yet, but it is great so far. I picked it up because Grotta was compared to Mary Doria Russell (one of my favorite writers) and so far it’s an apt comparison. If you’d like to keep up with what I am reading, connect with me on Goodreads.

• If you were to mentor a new writer, what would you tell her about the writing business?

  • Learn everything you can about the trade of writing. Read books on the craft of writing. Read books to learn how books are structured. Learn, learn, and then learn some more.
  • Write at least something every day so you stay in touch with the story. Once you get in the habit of writing every day, it is just that – a habit.
  • Writing is not a pursuit for the faint of heart. It is difficult. Don’t give up. I have seen tremendously talented writers stop writing because they it stopped being easy. Even more people walked away after a handful of rejections.
  • Follow your gut. You really do know what you are doing.
  • Allow yourself to write terrible first drafts; just don’t mistake them for final drafts. Get your ideas down on the page, then edit. Then edit again. Rest. Then edit again.

I am also guest posting over on Chimeras today, where I am interviewed by EE Giorgi about How To Climb The Eiffel Tower (which comes out Wednesday!!!!). Click on over and check out our conversation.