Wednesday, March 30, 2016


OK, it’s time to admit it. I am crazy busy right now and I’ve been neglecting my blog. (But the word search was fun and I might do that again.) I’m promoting two new releases, one next week, another the week after. I might as well do it here, too.

I have several guest blogs coming up. I hope these are ways to get people looking at me and my work.

I’ll be at the Henery Press blog April 1st, no joke!

For the week of the 4th, I’ll be hosting the facebook group, Nose for Trouble, as Janet Cantrell.

On the 7th, I’ll be at Kevin’s Corner. I WILL talk about my double releases there.

From the 11th through the 25th, there will be a giveaway at Linda Thorne’s blog.

Elaine Douts interviewed me for a Writers Who Kill post for the 27th.

In addition, Berkley Prime Crime has set up reviews from 76 people, plus an interview at Fresh Fiction and some blogs at other places.

I’m doing a signing at Books-A-Million in Knoxville for FAT CAT TAKES THE CAKE on April 24th, 2-4.

Also, watch for a Goodreads giveaway beginning the 5th. I’m giving away EINE KLEINE MURDER to promote the second in that series, REQUIEM IN RED.

So, here are the new books. FAT CAT TAKES THE CAKE on April 5th and REQUIEM IN RED on the 12th. HOWEVER, both are available for preorder if you need them right away.

Here are preorder places for Fat Cat:


Have a great April!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


I want to try something different today. This is to whet your appetite for REQUIEM IN RED, which is coming out April 12th. I hope this is doable!

Have fun!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Rerun: Short Story Structure

We're having out-of-towns guest, old college friends, this week, so I'm posting one of the most viewed past blogs. This one is from 8/4/2010, but short story structure hasn't changed since then that I know of. (If you think it has, please leave a comment, by all means.) I think this is something for readers as well as writers. I hope you enjoy it!

Members of the Short Mystery Fiction list started a discussion recently about the structure of the short story. So much has been said and written about the structure of a novel, even whole books devoted to mystery, thriller, and suspense structure, but I hadn't ever paused to consider the structure of the short story before that.

But I'm sure all short story writers should!

The first posting gave the opinion that short stories have two forms: vignette and mini-novel. The vignette, Graham Powell contended, has its action in the same place and it all happens at the same time. The mini-novel would give room for more character and plot development.

Mark Troy gave his opinion that a vignette is an expanded scene/sequel combination with the sequel being the most important part. He considers them incomplete and not as effective as the other form. Although he says he wouldn't use the term mini-novel, saying any effective story of whatever length should have protagonist/antagonist, setting, theme, 3-act plot, conflict. He said he does something that I think I will start doing: he marks the places where the acts begin and end, and marks the crisis, where the antagonist appears, where the theme is stated. I would imagine I would have to give a story at least two readings to do all that!

Graham answered that he thought his definition of a vignette story might be a 1-act tale and the other a 3-act story.

Fleur Bradley chimed in with the opinion that the vignette are stories that are like a fly-on-the-wall experience for the reader. Almost like an overheard conversation.

Then Jack Hardway/Dan said there IS a conventional short story form that has five parts, although many mystery stories don't contain all five. They are found most often in literary stories. When asked, he gave these two references:
If you click on them, you'll see they both reference a Freytag Pyramid. The first states the five parts as exposition; complication and development; crisis or turning point; falling action; catastrophe. It goes on to talk about other structure points, too.

The second reference says the five parts are exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement.

Wikipedia uses these latter terms for its illustration (I hope it's not illegal to copy wiki illustrations).

Then Chris Rhatigan posted this statement: A creative writing teacher explained another good five-part structuring technique for short stories similar to the one Jack discussed: 1) Action 2) Background 3) Development 4) Climax 5) Ending. One thing I like about it more--especially as a crime fiction writer--is that the reader gets dropped right in the middle of the story, then you get into the history of the characters, setting, etc. So in this case the piece would have two sets of rising and falling action.

I think I like this one best of all, at least for a mystery story. I'd love to hear from other short story writers and readers on this subject! Do you writers think you use any of the above structure devices? Do you readers see them?

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Laughter is the Best Medicine

One thing I often do at the end of my day is cruise around the internet finding funny things to post on Facebook. I started doing it because the things I found made me laugh and I wanted to share them. I started getting comments from people about how much they liked what I was doing and that made me stop and think.

I’ve always loved to make people laugh, in person. And here I was, doing it in cyberspace, too. Why do I like to do that? Because I think laughing is good for you. I feel so much better if I’ve laughed a lot that day. Or even a little. A day without laughter is gloomy.

Norman Cousin agreed with me. When he was ill with a mysterious ailment that he’d picked up in Russia, no one could do anything for him medically. He was given six months to live. So he decided to cure himself. A big part of his cure was watching movies of the funniest comics he knew. And it worked! His mysterious debilitating disease vanished and he lived sixteen more years. He wrote a book about it, Anatomy of an Illness, that I can highly recommend. Proof that laughter can cure you!

In 2011 a study proved that laughter releases endorphins and that social laughter is even better.*

Here are some quotes I love.

“The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.”
-Mark Twain

“If we couldn't laugh we would all go insane.” 
-Robert Frost

“The earth laughs in flowers.” 
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Even if you’re laughing so you don’t cry, keep laughing!

picture from