Magical book

Magical book

Monday, June 9, 2014

Blog Hop: The Writing Life

Somehow I’ve managed to be a published writer for eight years without participating in a blog hop, but when friend Jeri Westerson asked if she could tag me for this summer’s version – all about The Writing Life – I jumped in at last.

I’ll answer four burning questions about my own writing and tag three other writers, who will answer the same questions on their blogs in the next week.

1. What am I working on now?

My new project is a departure from my Rachel Goddard mystery series. It’s a suspense novel, a story revolving around Those Suspicious People Next Door rather than a police investigation of a murder. My lead character is a wildlife photographer. Beyond that, I don’t want to say too much just yet.

2. How does my work differ from other books in its genre?

In my mystery series, Rachel (a veterinarian in a small mountain community) becomes involved in murder cases in various ways, but she’s not a super-sleuth amateur who outdoes the cops at every turn. Her mate, Tom Bridger, a deputy who becomes sheriff in the last book, Poisoned Ground, is quite capable of solving the murders. But Rachel is essential to the process because she can go places a cop can’t and get information that people might not share with a policeman. There’s nothing cozy about the small community they live in. It’s a rough place where everybody owns a gun and grievances are likely to lead to violence. All the books have a high level of suspense, and they’ve often been called suspense novels or thrillers.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I made Rachel a veterinarian – risking a cozy label for the books – because I love animals and want to include them in my books. But I love darker mysteries and suspense novels, and that’s what I try to write. My first novel, The Heat of the Moon, was pure suspense, and now I want to get back to that. I love writing about people going through an intense experience and coming out of it changed in some fundamental way.

4. How does my writing process work?

It’s messy, often chaotic. Getting into a new book is the most difficult, confusing, even depressing stage. I never believe I have “enough story” for a book. Regardless of how many times I’ve done it, I never believe I can do it again. But I push on, building the story bit by bit, layer by layer. The first draft is skimpy, written without editing. By the end of it, I have a good idea of what the story needs, and I begin the real writing – shaping, filling in gaps, broadening the plot and characters, enhancing the descriptions and interior passages. The first draft is scary. The rest is real writing, and quite satisfying.

For the next round of the blog hop, I’m tagging three other writers published by Poisoned Pen Press. If you haven’t read their work, you’re in for a treat!

Janet Hubbard

Janet worked as an editor, researcher, writing coach, and non-fiction writer, producing over
twenty books for Chelsea House Publishers under the name Janet Hubbard-Brown, before she sold her mystery series, Vengeance in the Vineyard, to Poisoned Pen Press. Bordeaux: The Bitter Finish, (April, 2014) is the second in Janet's series, following Champagne: The Farewell (2012). 

You will find her blog at, where she will post her blog hop answers on June 13.

Donis Casey


Donis Casey’s seventh Alafair Tucker Mystery, Hell with the Lid Blown Off, has just been published to rave reviews, including a starred review in Publishers Weekly. It follows The Old Buzzard Had It Coming, Hornswoggled, The Drop Edge of Yonder, The Sky Took Him, Crying Blood, and The Wrong Hill to Die On. The award-winning series, featuring the sleuthing mother of ten children, is set in Oklahoma and Arizona during the booming 1910s.

Readers can enjoy the first chapter of each book on her web site at She blogs biweekly about at, where you can find her responses to the blog hop questions on June 16.

Michael A. Kahn 


A trial lawyer by day and a writer by night, Michael Kahn is the award-winning author of nine Rachel Gold legal mysteries, including Face Value, published June 3. He authored a stand-alone novel, The Mourning Sexton, under the pen name Michael Baron, as well as  several short stories. In addition to his day job, where he represents individuals and companies in the fields of creative arts and media law, Mike is an adjunct professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis, where he teaches a class on censorship and free expression.

Visit his website and blog at and look for his blog hop answers there in the next week. 


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