AUTHENTICITY IN CRIME FICTION: "A PLOT DOESN’T NEED TO BE POSSIBLE; IT NEEDS TO BE PLAUSIBLE." MELINDA COLT
Most of us read fiction books to escape into new and exciting worlds from the comfort of our own homes. We love following great detectives or private eyes as they connect clues, and we love to hate most of the villains that skilled writers portray in their books. Being part of the chase and trying to figure out the whodunnit is a delight to the mystery reader, just as the thriller reader loves to be completely enthralled in the heads of the characters and living vicariously in their fictional worlds.
But even when it comes to fiction, authors need to keep a degree of accuracy, especially if we’re talking about crime fiction. My mantra as a fiction writer: “A plot doesn’t need to be possible; it needs to be plausible.” It works, up to a point, and as a young reader, I enjoyed many books that were extremely entertaining and well written. However, now I find flaws in many of them. Why? Because back then, I used to read any genre. Now, as a crime fiction reader and writer, I analyze every detail in a story.
As for my books, I work diligently to offer my readers the best possible experience in my detective mysteries, The Irish Garda Squad. I can honestly say that researching these books has taken longer than writing them, and before I started writing Dare Game, the book that starts the series, the first thing I did was contact An Garda Síochána – Ireland’s police force – and ask them to assist me with my research. The sergeant I spoke with was quite helpful, and even though it was impossible to answer all of my questions and scenarios (I hadn’t even plotted book one yet), I got the basic information that I requested.
Another stroke of luck was meeting detective Simon McLean — retired cop, author, and active member of LEAP Scotland, who was extremely patient while answering all my questions. Being a civilian with no crime-fighting background whatsoever, I can assure you some of my questions were pretty dumb.
My publisher, my editor, and my husband, aka Mr. Walking Encyclopedia, were incredibly helpful, as were the Cops and Writers Facebook group led by Patrick O’Donnell. All of these constitute a treasure of knowledge, and judging by the reviews, led to an authentic experience for my readers.
As I prepare to release the next book in the series, Silent Strike, I am confident that I’ve done my homework, and I’ll deliver a story my readers will love!
If you haven’t started the series, find the first book, Dare Game, at your favorite retailer!
Kindle ● Play ● iBooks ● Nook ● Kobo
This was a "Wow, what an amazing world we live in!" moment, standing on Doe Mountain after a long hike up...
It was hard to put myself into a thriller mindset, wondering what I'd do if I were living out here and saw a plane go down. Imagining myself doing a good thing and finding myself in a life-and-death situation with a sexy, mysterious guy I wasn't sure I could trust...but the other guys were pretty darn clear about trying to kill us both.
Ever slept outside in the desert?
I have! Well, I cheated. I rented a little guest cottage out in the boonies and enjoyed some creative time, some quiet time, and the experience of being out in the wild, so to speak. I wanted to get a taste of what Claire and Quade felt and saw and smelled while having to spend the night in the wilderness. I heard animals rustling and saw so many stars it was if I were looking at a different sky. Thankfully, I wasn't hiding from bad guys who were out to kill me, so there's that!
I absolutely believe that our souls are infinite, and that our experience here in this life is because our souls long to feel everything: love, joy, and yes, even grief and pain. My new romantic bestseller ONE LAST PROMISE explores all of these, and especially hope.
ONE LAST PROMISE is a book of my heart, with action and a gut-wrenching love story...and an HEA that my peeps have to work hard for. And this week only it's on sale for the first time ever!
One Last Promise is a Stand-Alone Story - No Cliffhanger!
Romantic Thriller - Supernatural Suspense
It’s a crazy statement, I know. But all authors have an element of crazy in them somewhere — at least I don’t think I’m the only one. How can we not? We have to balance our lives, family, and day-to-day responsibilities with the art of storytelling. We create lives, personalities, likes, and dislikes. It’s like giving birth without the added weight gain and late-night bottle feedings.
Or is it?
If we’re not careful, we drink too much coffee, eat too many snacks — instead of real food — and position ourselves in front of our computer screens for hours on end. Thus, weight gain. Late-night bottle feedings come in the form of waking up in the wee hours of the night, jotting down notes or a scene that’s been plaguing us all day.
How do we stay sane? Where do these fictional people come from? Why are we not wearing straitjackets?
My best guess is because we’ve learned to blend in with the rest of society. Thankfully, readers are intrigued by our stories, which helps me to keep the purple straitjacket tucked away.
All jokes aside, it is my opinion that writing is the truest form of self-expression, healing, and finding a way to cope with whatever ails you. Whether you journal, blog, write a memoir, or take your life experiences or pull from those around you and write a book. No matter what avenue you take, writing is therapeutic.
I love to create the characters in my stories. As an only child, I spent a lot of time alone, playing with my baby dolls, stuffed animals, and Barbies. Each had a name and a voice of their own. I spent hour after hour making up stories and creating adventures to entertain myself. Each story had a Happily Ever After. From time to time, I would get the tape recorder (remember that old-fashioned form of electronics?) and make cassette tapes of my little adventures to share with my parents. They, of course, thought my tales were funny. Little did I know that form of storytelling would eventually lead to a writing career.
I still use a recorder — digital now — to record my ideas for my books. No dolls allowed; I leave that to my daughter. The tales are no longer about a princess riding horses and marrying a prince. Now the stories deal with real-life experiences. Not all are my own, but they are real, they do happen, and there is heartbreak and pain. But through it all, there is happiness and love.
After creating the heroines in my books, I realized something. In each character — as different as they are — there is an element of me. The woman I once was, the woman I am, the woman I secretly wish I could be, and the woman I aspire to become. Multiple Personality Disorder at its best. By telling their stories, I’ve found a way to work through the pain I've experienced to find happiness in my family and the ones I hold dear.
Along the way, I’ve made friends I never would have known and gained knowledge I never would have attained. In short, I’ve not only learned how to become a better writer, but I’ve also learned more about myself. Writing has allowed me to make a mark of my own outside of being a wife and a mother. I have discovered something I love, something I’m good at, and something that unless I actually lose my mind, no one can ever take away from me.
There’s not a morning I don’t get up with an idea that I’m anxious to put on paper. Seeing the Butterfly Memoirs go through several different stages of evolution over several years taught me so much. Adding to the story, taking away, fine tuning, and finessing … it’s all the part of telling a story — with heart, care, and attention to detail.
If you’re thinking about writing a book, watch out for those doctors with those special white coats!
By the way, my straight jacket also has butterflies! LOL!
Great news! If you’d like to learn more about my characters, my first book, a romantic women’s fiction with heart and soul, is absolutely FREE for a limited time!
Hope you enjoyed this insight into my writing world!
Kindle ● Series ● Play ● iBooks ● Nook ● Kobo ● Audible
To be notified of M.J.'s Deals & New Releases, subscribe to her Newsletter or BookBub!
Carmen DeSousa: I had to stop writing when I broke down over a character dying, and I’m the psycho who killed him.
When I sit down to write a novel, I generally have no idea where I’m going. My typical start of a story is usually the main character—whether it’s the male protagonist or the female protagonist—and whatever issue they are facing.
From there, I just ask myself questions:
The great thing is, just like the reader, I never know exactly what my characters will do. Sure, I know I want a happily ever after, but I also know that not every character will get a happily ever after. And the detours they make along the way sometimes even surprise me. Why? Because I allow my story to progress naturally.
I typically write two thousand words a day, and then every night I read the last few chapters to make sure the story flows, marking any areas that need addressing, and then go to sleep, allowing the characters to come alive in my dreams. And ohhh how they do. It’s not unusual for hubby to see me typing on my iPhone’s notepad in the middle of the night. Often it’ll just be a great line or a missing link I was in search of.
When I finally finish the novel, I take an entire day and read from beginning to end, making sure the story flows and that there are no holes or contradictions.
I’ve read this story almost thirty times at this juncture. How can it surprise me, how can it make me cry? And yet, here I am, sitting on the sofa, my afghan curled around me, and I’m bawling over something that happened.
Hubby, who has been sitting quietly by his computer—because he knows it’s read-through day—whips his chair around to face me and asks, “Are you okay?”
I swipe away my tears and answer, “Yes, I just can’t believe that happened.”
“Wait. I thought you were reading your book?” he asks.
“I am,” I answer. “But it still makes me cry.”
He shakes his head and goes back to typing his nonfiction.
One of my favorite quotes is by Robert Frost: “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”
Well, I’m always surprised, and I always cry when something happens to my characters, so I hope when you read my books you will, too!
If you enjoy stories that blend happy and sad, romantic and suspenseful, click the link for your favorite retailer below and grab one of my free books. If you’ve read all my books, make sure you pre-order my new release, Erik’s Revelation, at the $0.99 introductory price, so you’ll know why I was crying!
Until next time, happy reading!
Learn more about Carmen: www.WrittenMusings.com/CarmenDeSousa
Or visit one of her author pages to grab one of her bestsellers!
Kindle ● Play ● iBooks ● Nook ● Kobo ● Audible
Fans have asked dozens of questions about the ghost who took over The House on Persimmon Road with her witty and old-fashioned ways. So Jackie decided to drop in, not as a writer, but as a guest to have a chat with Lottie.
If you've already read this Southern-Style Chick Lit with just a Smidgen of Romance and a Hint of Paranormal, continue to the interview now!
Wearing an apron, the bib straight-pinned to her cotton house dress, Lottie welcomed me into the house with a pleasant expression. The grand hall seemed larger than I recalled. The old floors gleamed, the walls painted a rich cream. I asked what changes Tucker and Justine had made. Lottie opened a door on the south wall. "This was my linen room. Now it's an indoor bathroom. Can't even hang my herbs to dry in season. Used to have lavender, mint, sage, marigold and such..."
The dining room was still converted into an office. I glanced in as we passed the open door. The room was modernized with state of the art computers and all sorts of electronic gadgets. In the kitchen the old farm sink was filled with green tomatoes. A hand-turned grinder stood on the counter along with dozens of canning jars, a gallon of vinegar and a bowl of salt. Lottie poured me a huge glass of sweetened iced tea. "You can sit, but I got to keep at it. I'm canning pickle relish."
"It's quiet," I noted. "Where is everybody?"
"Justine and Agnes are at a Girl Scout camp with Judy Ann. An overnight. Tucker, Wheeler and Pip are fishing up on Dog River. Pauline is off with her high-falutin' friends on ghost tours in Savannah and Charleston. As if there is any such thing. What questions do you have? I already explained all I know about being betwixt and between."
"You may not believe it, but most of your fans want to know how to dobe a roast."
"Law! You're trickin' me. Every woman ever lifted a fork knows how to dobe a roast."
"Not in the Twenty-first Century, they don't. Or how to make pickle relish out of green tomatoes, either."
Lottie put the first batch of ground tomatoes in a huge bowl, stirred in two tablespoons of mustard seeds, sprinkled the lot with a half-cup of salt, then wiped her hands on her apron. "I best have a glass of tea myself," she said and sat across from me, her brow wrinkled in angst. "You puttin' how to dobe a roast in another book?"
"No, I'm just going to write an article about it."
"Well...back in the early days, we didn't have store bought beef or pork. We butchered those animals ourselves. Or a neighbor did and you traded for a haunch. You wash that roast good and dry it. If it was wild game like a turkey hen, wild boar, or venison, you ground up mustard seeds and rubbed it all over. I allus poked a few cloves in my wild game. Next you take a good quality lard and rub it all over the meat and let it set for an hour. Then you dobe it with flour. That means you roll the roast in it. Wheat flour is best, but a fine ground corn meal will do. Next you brown the roast all over in a good hot pan of lard. I allus baked my roasts in a clay baking brick. Henry Watson made the best brick oven dish. I don't know where mine got to. Probab'ly stolen during The WAR right along with my pigs. That's how you dobe a roast.
"Nowadays, you can use mustard right out of a jar and Justine swears by olive oil. But when I put up a fuss, she'll buy a pound of lard at the Publix. Hog lard makes the best biscuits. Anything else? I got to get my canning done."
"One more question, if you don't mind. How did you keep up with War news?"
"Why, the Mobile Register. Came up on the mail boat. Listed all our men folks kilt. That's how I found out Elmer was gone over to the Red River Campaign in Louisiana. We didn't have roads or mail delivery like today. Mail boat brought the newspaper, ice blocks in sawdust, spices and sometimes the scissors and notion man. Elmer kept our knives sharp, but he was fair mess when it came to my scissors. Captain would sound the horn when he was coming up river and folks just go down to our docks up and down the river. 'Course after the Union blowed up Fort Morgan, that was the end of any fair-sized boat slipping up river." Lottie moved back to the sink and started grinding more green tomatoes. I took the hint.
"Thank you for having me. I appreciate it." I still had a bevy of questions, but thought it best not to push my luck. "If I get any more questions from your fans and readers, would you mind if I came back?"
"I might. How nosy are those folkses?"
"They're just curious. But mostly they're eager to learn how people lived in those early days. What they wore for everyday clothes, how they shopped and what was essential for every day living. Maybe you could talk about a day in the life of Lottie Mae Roberts. Or how you and Elmer spent time in the days before the War."
"I best give it some thought and talk to Justine, too. "
"I'll email her in a few days." Lottie saw me to the front door and once I was on the porch, latched the screen.
"Don't knock over the mailbox backing out," she called.
Oh, that poor mailbox. Both Agnes and Pauline had run over the thing while learning to drive. I hope my next visit I will see the rest of the family and learn how each is doing. Today was a good start.
10) You can explore mysteries, what-ifs, and universal truths, and you can solve them in whatever way you want. You can stretch your imagination to the outer limits, and make your readers believe, even for a short while, in magic.
9) Whenever you space out and forget where you’re going, or spend two hours in the bath, you can always blame it on the people in your head who, at last, decided to reveal their deepest secrets. (Of course, if you tell this to someone who doesn’t write or read romance, they might send you on an expense-paid trip to the funny farm!)
8) You can buy books as a legitimate business expense. Better, you can read books as a legitimate part of your job.
7) You can go to work in your pajamas if you want or, at the least, sans panty hose, makeup, and an 18-Hour bra.
6) You can have torrid affairs with sexy men and not risk divorce or the fiery gates of hell.
5) You can be the woman you always wanted to be: braver, thinner, sassier, with perfect skin and thick hair. Or the woman you never wanted to be: a bitch, a murderer, the opposite sex… You can be whatever you want for a while, without any repercussions.
4) You learn to develop a balanced sense of self. You’re dancing with angels when a reader tells you you’re the best thing since the discovery of chocolate; you’re in the dregs of self-esteem when your editor tells you your latest book stinks worse than limburger cheese.
3) You can tell your mother she was wrong… It’s okay to tell stories after all.
2) Writing is the one place in your life where you can be God and control your world. If your characters let you, that is.
1) The best, absolutely number one part is knowing that what you love doing will touch someone’s life and take them away from their troubles for a while.
I hope you enjoyed this list as much as I love writing for you!
If you would like to read a little more about what Tina writes, follow the links below to download one of her FREE bestsellers. She also has a $0.99 deal this week only! Tina's stories are available in print, eBook, and audio formats at your favorite retailer.
Start Tina's Justiss Alliance series with a FREE book!
Romance - Suspense - SEALs!
Carmen DeSousa writes about what she knows... Sometimes it's happy, sometimes it's sad, but it always ends in Happily Ever After!
A professor once told me that all first-time authors write their autobiography, even if tagged fiction. While I don’t believe that’s completely true, after all, some first-time authors write about vampires and shape shifters, I do think there’s a modicum of truth to that statement. In other words, even if an author writes a work of fiction, there are usually many elements of the story that are factual, and I’d venture to guess that, at minimum, authors probably pattern characters after people whom they know.
When my college professor suggested: “Write what you know.” — a quote often attributed to Mark Twain, but some say it is much older — I wasn’t certain if I really wanted to do that. After all, who would believe me?
Here are a few scary subjects I know about:
Child abuse, Sexual abuse, Drug abuse, Alcohol abuse, Abandonment, Rape, Suicide, Depression, Stalkers, Crime, Tragedies, Death...
But, thankfully, I also know about a lot of good subjects, too:
A new family, Hiking, Kayaking, Love at first sight, Happily ever after, Police & Detective Procedures, Belief in God, The power to overcome adversity…,
Hey, I moved out on my own at the age of seventeen, and I'm married to a retired police detective, so I've seen a lot. The problem is ... will anyone believe or want to read about "what you know?" Well, I guess that depends. If you put it into a story, add a little, as Hollywood refers to it: Based on a true story, but dramatic elements have been added for the sake of artistic expression, then, yeah, some people will believe and/or want to read because more than likely they can identify with a character and/or a situation. And while they can enjoy an escape into a fictional story, they may take something from it.
The funny thing is most of the stories throughout history are based on a couple of those "unbelievable" elements I listed above. Although they may not all be in the same story, "love at first sight," "family tragedy," and/or "an unbelievable or vicious crime" are often the basis of a work of literary fiction. Fairy tales did it. Suspense-thrillers do it. It’s a great start!
So if you don’t believe one or more of the elements of a story, does that make it "unbelievable" or a "bad" story? One of the most popular themes is "love at first sight," which often gets a bad rap by reviewers. You may not believe in "love at first sight," but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist, and many readers love it. In fact, even movies that aren’t tagged as "love at first site," usually have a hero and heroine thrust into an incredibly unbelievable situation, and are all of a sudden willing to die for each other. Of course, there are many classics like that, too: Romeo and Juliet, all the fairy tales, even The Godfather ... ooh, I bet you forgot about that one. Remember when Michael Corleone is walking through the picturesque countryside in Sicily and he spots the beautiful Apollonia… See, even graphic thrillers do it!
Well, as I mentioned in the above list, these are all the things I write about. Why? Because it’s what I know. So, let me share a tidbit of information with the unbelievers of the world who don't think "love at first sight" exists...
I’ve experienced a lot of tragedy in my life, but I got lucky in love! After my first date with my husband, I called my grandmother and told her I'd just met the man I was going to marry. Thirteen days later, he asked me to marry him. Thirty days later, we got married, and we’ve been married for thirty-one years.
Yes, I believe in "love at first sight," yes, I write tales filled with tragedy, mystery, suspense, hope and, above all, romance, because I’m living one. I’ll leave the rest of "what I know" situations that I write about in my books up to your imagination, and let you try to figure out what's real or made up. :)
Until next time, happy reading and imagining!
If you would like to read a little more about what Carmen writes, follow the links below to download one of her bestsellers.
When six couples arrive in sunny Miami Beach, they vow to place life troubles on hold and enjoy a child-free weekend. But even paradise can’t whisk away problems…
Grab the final book in the series from your favorite retailer!
What readers are saying about the Butterfly Memoirs:
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "I loved how the characters got to really know each other despite the ethnic differences... M.J. Kane has just found another fan." — VINE VOICE
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "A Wonderful Story of Love and Triumph." — Hopeless Romantic, AVP
Don't miss this Stand-Alone Romantic Women's Fiction!
His daughter wants a mother. He needs help pulling off a job before Christmas. Will the new woman in their home bring joy, or tear their world apart?
Click your Favorite Retailer Tab to Learn More!
What readers are saying about Jackie’s books:
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “Ms. Weger’s writing style is honest and down-to-earth. Her characters are well developed, realistic, and draw you in quickly.” — Big Al’s Books and Pals Reviewer
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “Jackie Weger writes fluently, understandably, makes it flow with pitch and power.” — Read Along with Sue
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “Jackie Weger is a gem. I found her writing very unique and comfortable and so annoyingly beautiful.” — Coffeeholic Bookworm
When Clare sees a plane go down in the desert behind her remote home and goes to assist, the sexy pilot, Quade Bonahan, kidnaps her. Since the men who downed his plane are shooting at them, she has no choice but to go along with Quade, at least until she can escape... READ MORE
What readers are saying about Tina Wainscott’s books:
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "Wainscott delivers unusual and satisfying romance with a supernatural twist." – Publishers Weekly
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "Tina has unforgettable female protagonists and action-packed, almost haunting plotlines." – Janet Evanovich New York Times bestselling author
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "Tina Wainscott always delivers … I love to curl up with anything she writes.” New York Times Bestselling author Heather Graham
If you enjoyed Until I Die Again, you will absolutely LOVE One Last Promise!
All the books in the Love & Light Collection are stand-alone stories that can be read in any order! Start your journey by clicking your favorite retailer icon below!
New to Tina's Books?
Here are the FIRSTS in three of her Bestselling Series...