Saturday, March 25, 2017

Why I became a mystery writer


by Patricia Gligor

My Malone mystery series has been an important part of my life for many years. The release of the first book, Mixed Messages, and the subsequent publication of Unfinished Business, Desperate Deeds, Mistaken Identity and, finally, Marnie Malone, has been a dream come true. My characters are people I’ve come to know and love.

My series is character driven. What that means (for non-writers) is that my characters are the most important element in my books. Plot is important, of course, as is setting but, to me, knowing why my characters say and do what they say and do is of utmost importance.

Which brings me to the topic of this post: Why I became a mystery writer. What motivated me to choose to write in the first place? And, why mystery/suspense novels?

To answer those questions, we’re going to take a trip back in time.
I grew up in a big, old house with lots of nooks and crannies to explore and a woods behind it stretching as far as the eye could see. There was a small cemetery at the top of the hill in those woods. So eerie and mysterious! The perfect setting for a young girl with an active imagination who loved to read Judy Bolton and Nancy Drew mysteries.

I used to make up stories about what was happening (and had happened) in the house and the woods and I told them to my brother and two of our playmates. They were all younger than me and I know I frightened them with my tales of mystery and suspense.

When I was ten years old, I wrote a poem called “The Night” and submitted it to my Sunday school magazine. To my amazement (and delight), it was published! When I saw my name printed under the title, I was hooked for life. I didn’t know how and I didn’t know when but I did know that someday I would be an author. Deciding which genre to write in wasn’t a problem for me. I knew I wanted to write mysteries.


A lot of years have passed since then but I remember myself as a child who was excited to write mysteries and who would go off to be alone to daydream. That little girl is still inside me and she still sees mystery everywhere!

Blurb for Marnie Malone


Someone is stalking Marnie.

It’s Marnie’s last week at the law firm of Cliburn & Reeves and she feels like she’s riding an emotional roller coaster. Up when she wins the divorce and custody battle for Callie Jackson against her abusive husband, Jed. And plummeting down when one witness after another decides not to testify against Mark Hall, an attorney at another Charleston firm and an “alleged” serial rapist.

Marnie receives one threat after another and she constantly feels the need to look over her shoulder, convinced that someone is stalking her. With Sam out of town on business, she’s alone in the big, old farmhouse and strange things are happening. Noises in the attic, creaking floorboards and someone watching her from the woods.

As she tries to determine the identity of the stalker, the list of men who have grudges against her grows longer each day. In her line of work she’s made enemies. Is the stalker someone from the past or one of the men on her list? And, how far will he go?

About the Author:

Patricia Gligor is a Cincinnati native. She enjoys reading mystery/suspense novels, touring and photographing old houses and traveling. She has worked as an administrative assistant, the sole proprietor of a resume writing service and the manager of a sporting goods department but her passion has always been writing fiction.
Ms. Gligor writes the Malone Mystery series. The first three books, Mixed Messages, Unfinished Business, and Desperate Deeds take place in Cincinnati but in Mistaken Identity, the fourth book, her characters are vacationing on Fripp Island in South Carolina. Marnie Malone, the fifth book in her series, is also set in South Carolina.

Her books are available at:

Visit her website at: http://pat-writersforum.blogspot.com/

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Having a Great Crime -- Wish You Were Here


by Marja McGraw

You never know what might inspire a story. In the case of Having a Great Crime – Wish You Were Here, it was a small, friendly town – Battle Ground, Washington. I’ve lived here for almost two years and enjoyed every minute of it. The town is beautiful and the people are friendly. However, the town wasn’t crime ridden, until I came along and created an old crime.

“1936 – In the small farming community of Battle Ground, Washington, a scream is heard and actress Bonnie Singleton is found dead. With no evidence or suspects, the crime goes down in history as an unsolved murder. The only one who knows the truth is Bonnie Singleton, and her voice has been silenced.

That is, until many years later when Sandi Webster-Goldberg and her husband, Pete, go on a belated honeymoon to a new Bed and Breakfast in the small community.

Plenty of surprises await the couple when the proprietor of the B&B asks for their help. She doesn’t want her business to be known as the local haunted house.


Have Sandi and Pete ever been able to turn down a challenge? The request to find the truth has been made and once again they’re reluctantly on a cold case.”

I guess I should have mentioned the treasure. What’s a good story set out in the country without a treasure? And maybe a ghost? After a vintage body is found, you have to wonder whose ghost (if there is one) haunts the B&B. Is Bonnie Singleton still walking the halls of the house or is it the woman who was buried on another part of the property?

Needless to say, I write fiction. However, I’ve learned that when you create your location, if it’s not a fictional town, you’d better stick to the facts as much as you can. Research can be fascinating, and sometimes (as in this case) it can be difficult. Have you ever tried researching through old newspapers only to discover that in “those days” the local paper was almost purely social? Not helpful. Because this is a small town, you won’t find many reference books on its history, either.

One thing I discovered is that it’s almost like this area jumped from the 1920s straight into the 1940s, practically skipping the 1930s. It became a prime era for me to fictionalize. It was a farming community with little in the way of law enforcement.

This area is gorgeous, and lots of rain helps keep it that way. I mean lots of rain. Moss is an ongoing battle, but if you’re just passing through, it enhances the scenery. There are forests to walk through, and fields galore.

The way the town looks isn’t everything though. The people, the businesses and even the frogs add to the story. At certain times of the year you can open the door and hear what sounds like thousands of frogs chirping, or is it croaking? You might even find a snake wriggling through your yard, but it probably won’t be a poisonous critter.

Can an old murder have ramifications in today’s world? Why not? It can happen.

So if you’re looking for a story with a little humor, a little romance and maybe a murder or two, this is the one for you.

Jean, thank you so much for inviting me to your site. I hope one day you’ll visit mine.

______________

Marja McGraw has worked in both civil and criminal law, state transportation, and for a city building department.  She’s lived and worked in California, Nevada, Oregon, Alaska, Arizona, and Washington.

She wrote a weekly column for a small town newspaper in Northern Nevada, and conducted a Writers’ Support Group in Northern Arizona. A past member of Sisters in Crime (SinC), she was the Editor for the SinC-Internet Newsletter for a year and a half.

Marja writes two mystery series: The Sandi Webster Mysteries and The Bogey Man Mysteries, which are light reading with a touch of humor. She also occasionally writes stories that aren’t part of a series.

Marja says that each of her mysteries contains a little humor, a little romance and A Little Murder!

She now lives in Washington, where life is good.

You can visit her website at http://www.marjamcgraw.com/
Her blog can be read at http://marjamcgraw.blogspot.com/

Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Western Mystery by John Lindermuth




I've always been interested in history and few eras are more interesting than that of our American West. I'm also intrigued by mystery. So what could be better than combining the two?

As trappers, gold-hunters and settlers expanded into the West they ran head on into people they often regarded as less than human but who had cultures as diverse as their own. When conquered, these people were forced onto reservations where it was hoped they might be controlled.

Like most other reservations in the United States, San Carlos in Arizona was established by politicians ignorant of native cultures and relationships. The process forced both friends and enemies to live cheek by jowl in a harsh environment made worse by cheating agents and abusive soldiers while constantly being spied upon by tribal police and scouts who assisted the Army in hunting down renegades.

The conquered Yavapai and Tonto bands of the Apache people, formerly hunter/gatherers, turned to farming and were becoming near self-sufficient on their first reservation on the Verde River. This didn't sit well with contractors who profited from supplying the reservation. Orders came down for the Army to march these Indians 180 miles on foot to San Carlos in mid-winter, a move General George Crook called "cruel and greedy, the foulest blot in Indian history."

John Clum, who had been appointed agent in 1874 (after twice turning down the job), appears to have been a decent man who attempted to treat the people fairly and gave leaders more autonomy than they'd had under other administrators. He embarrassed and inspired the wrath of the Army when he and a small group of scouts brought in Geronimo and his band to San Carlos in 1877 without a single shot being fired
.
Despite Clum's best efforts, San Carlos was bleak, rations were short, there was animosity between the various bands and disease afflicted the people. No wonder then that many chose to break out, seek freedom in the mountains and over the border in Mexico.This is the background for Geronimo Must Die.

My protagonist is Mickey Free, based on an actual scout who served as a translator under Al Sieber in the Yavapai/Tonto campaign and then at San Carlos. His mother was Mexican, but his father has not been definitely identified. As a boy, Mickey was kidnapped by Pinal Apaches and an Army officer blamed it on the Chiricahua, igniting a decade-long war. Mickey was adopted by Nayundii, a White Mountain Apache, and he and his foster brother John Rope both joined Sieber's scouts.

As Mickey says in the book: "History's like an old mirror, distorted, smudged and fly-speckled. It don't always reflect things the way they are." This gave me the liberty to play with fact and fictionalize to suit my story.

There's a plot to kill tribal leaders in the hope Apaches can be convinced to leave the reservation in a great runaway. Sieber suspects Geronimo is behind it. But when Geronimo himself becomes a target of the sniper it falls upon Mickey to save him and discover who is behind the plot.

I love research and fortunately there are a ton of books, government reports and other sources for information on the period and the people involved. Incidentally, the San Carlos reservation stills exists. Despite formation of a Chamber of Commerce, a casino, a language preservation program and other efforts by the people, it is one of the poorest Native American communities in the
U.S. 

Here's a blurb for Geronimo Must Die: 

Geronimo and rascally half-breed Indian scout Mickey Free have never been friends.

Yet, Mickey has already saved Geronimo's life twice (without acknowledgement) and is the only one who can keep the great Apache leader out of the sniper's sights now. The sniper has already murdered several tribal leaders and Mickey believes it's all a plot to prompt a great runaway from the hated San Carlos reservation.
Mickey's efforts are stymied by Al Sieber, head of scouts, and John Clum, reservation agent, as well as suspicion of other Indians. Adding to his problems, Mickey is in love with a girl whose name he keeps forgetting to ask and who may be allied to the plot.
Only perseverance, risk to his life and, eventually, Geronimo's help will enable Mickey to resolve this dangerous situation.

Geronimo Must Die will be published March 28 by Sundown Press.

A retired newspaper editor, J. R. Lindermuth lives and writes in a house built by a man who rode with Buffalo Bill--which may have helped inspire his interest in the West. His 15 published novels are a mix of mystery and historical fiction. Since retiring, he's served as librarian for his county historical society, assisting patrons with genealogy and research. He is a member of International Thriller Writers and a past vice president of the Short Mystery Fiction Society.