Kaye George is an award-winning novelist and short-story writer who writes cozy and traditional mysteries and a prehistory series, both traditionally and self-published. Her two cozy series are Fat Cat and Vintage Sweets. The two traditional series feature Cressa Carraway and Imogene Duckworthy. The People of the Wind prehistory mysteries take place within a Neanderthal tribe. About 50 or more short stories have also been published, mostly in anthologies and magazines, though a few are for sale separately. She used to review for Suspense Magazine and now writes a column for Mysterical-E from her home in Knoxville, TN.
PITCH FOR SONG OF DEATH: Aspiring conductor Cressa Carraway arrives at her grandmother’s cabin at a rural Illinois lake resort, hoping to find the ideal place to finish composing the symphony she needs to earn her master’s degree. Instead, she finds her grandmother’s corpse in the lake. The authorities dismiss the death as an accidental drowning, but when Gram’s best friend drowns in the exact same spot, Cressa knows something is off-key in this idyllic setting.
The Journey Can Be Long – And it can be round-about. I had a new novel come out in August, but it wasn’t really a new novel. It’s actually the first one I ever completed that I thought had a chance of being published. It wasn’t the first one published, however.
Before I started keeping good records, I was querying that novel, now called SONG OF DEATH, so I don’t know exactly how many rejections I got on it. But, eventually, after CHOKE was published in 2011 after 65 queries, SONG did find a home at Barking Rain Press in 2013.
SONG will always be very dear to me because I set it at my mother’s lake cabin. I know she would love that, but she wasn’t here when I started to get published. She’s a BIG part of why I write, though. She used to want to write a novel and would even tell me some of her plots. The only one I remember is the parrot plot. She wanted someone to think they were hearing a murder inside a house, but eventually, it was disclosed that the parrot was very loud and screechy. And yelled, “Murder!” Okay, I know some of her plots were better than that, but I can’t remember them.
Here’s an amusing query story. One New York agent turned down SONG OF DEATH because it’s set at a lake resort in central Illinois, and this New York agent knew there weren’t any lake resorts in Illinois. Right. It’s set at a REAL Illinois lake resort. And it’s far from the only one. So there.
Anyway, I’m so pleased to be able to carry through on this, this getting published thing, even if my mom couldn’t. Snags and detours and side roads I’ve encountered.
Because that’s not the end of the SONG OF DEATH story, Barking Rain went under after publishing that one and the sequel. Barking Rain changed the title to EINE KLEINE MURDER. I know. I thought it was not the most accessible. The main character is a musician, so it’s a play on a piece by Mozart, EINE KLEINE NACHTMUSIK. She, Cressa Carraway, is a musician because I’m a musician. “Write what you know.” Right? She’s a keyboard player, though, not a violinist like me, because they are much more useful.
The piece she composes during this novel is called SONG OF LIFE, but a murder mystery is better suited to SONG OF DEATH, right?
I had high hopes for this series. It was going to be my one magnum opus and go on for many, many sequels. Cressa composes and eventually conducts, and my dream was she would be a guest conductor worldwide. I would have to visit the places she went and write off the trips on my taxes. Great plan.
Things don’t always go the way you plan them.
I kept writing more things, different series, and lots of short stories, and I had great success at Untreed Reads with my Neanderthal mysteries. So, maybe about a year ago, I asked Jay Hartman, the editor there, if they wanted to reissue my Cressa Carraway books with my original titles and new covers. He said yes!
Then things changed again. Untreed Reads had a shuffle, and Jay is no longer there. But the Cressa e-books were still published in August, two on the same day. SONG OF DEATH and the second one, REQUIEM FOR RED. There should be paperbacks by the time this blog runs. I hope!
Oh, and that first published novel, CHOKE, in 2011? Things didn’t work out with that publisher at all. I took it back in a year and self-published it in 2012, then went on to do three more in that series.
I would always much rather have a publisher, though. I’d rather write than do all the pubby things, for sure!
When the third Cressa Carraway novel comes out, it will be my sixteenth novel! I sometimes have to pinch myself. I love being a mystery writer! And I know my mom would love reading my books.
I owe George Cramer my thanks for letting me post here today. Thanks a million!
Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Death-Cressa-Caraway-Musical-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B0CGF6KNVS/
Contact Links and Groups:
Local SinC chapter https://www.easttn-sinc.com/
Amy Rivers is an award-winning novelist and the Director of the Writing Heights Writers Association. She was named 2021 Indie Author of the Year by the Indie Author Project. Her psychological suspense novels incorporate important social issues with a focus on the complexities of human behavior. Amy was raised in New Mexico and now lives in Colorado with her husband and children.
ELEVATOR PITCH Ripple Effect – Forensic psychologist Kate Medina continues to pursue the leaders of a trafficking ring that has plagued her hometown. Still, time is running out, and her sister’s life is on the line. Will Kate uncover the truth in time to save Tilly?
Ripple Effect, the final installment of my psychological suspense series, A Legacy of Silence, was published on October 24, 2023. I’m both elated and relieved. I figure most authors experience this feeling. You pour your blood, sweat, and tears into your creative work like a parent preparing their children for adulthood. You do the best you can to prepare it for the world, but then you have to let go, knowing that you won’t be able to protect it from harsh critics, but also hopeful that it will find someone who will love it for exactly who it is.
Readers who will love our book as much as we do.
Like any relationship, we want to find the perfect match. A reader who will feel all the things we intended them to feel when we wrote the book. Someone who will introduce our book to their friends, taking our work from relative obscurity all the way to the bestseller lists.
Have I taken the metaphor too far? Seriously, my husband says that no matter what I’m writing, it’s a relationship book, and I guess that extends to all aspects of my life. I’ve always been fascinated with human motivation, prompting me to study psychology, victimology, and criminal behavior. I want to know what makes people tick, and the easiest way for me to understand this is through relationships.
This was certainly true in my work as the director of a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners program serving two rural counties in my home state of New Mexico. Working closely with the first responders who provided services to victims of sexual assault and abuse, it was often my job to talk through secondary trauma and attend to the emotional needs of the nurses in my program. Empathy and a genuine desire to understand people supported those efforts and has inspired me to write about issues of interpersonal violence in what I hope is an authentic and accurate way.
A Legacy of Silence deals with human trafficking and also sisterhood. The books touch on family bonds and romantic relationships while also looking at PTSD, anxiety, sexual predation, and murder. And there’s a reason. Real life is complicated. As humans, we’re constantly juggling–family, career, ambition, passion–and when life throws us some turmoil, those other things don’t just disappear. We work through them with varying degrees of success, and our behavior and actions affect our relationships.
I’m excited that the story is now complete. Ripple Effect marks the end of the saga and hopefully the beginning of some peace for Kate and Tilly and all the people they love. I’ve been immersed in A Legacy of Silence for four years, and I’m looking forward to starting something new. That said, I have a feeling that Kate and Tilly aren’t done with me. I hope everyone enjoys the complete series!
https://hype.co/@amyrivers (contains all my social media links)
Bob Martin served the NYPD for 32 years in a wide variety of commands. These include the fabled Tactical Patrol Force (TPF), the Street Crime Unit, the Mounted Unit, the 72nd, 69th, and 6th Precincts, Queens and Bronx Detectives, and finally, the Commanding Officer of the Special Investigations Division. Martin was a charter member and played with the NYPD’s Finest Football Team for a dozen years. He served for twelve years on the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) “Committee on Terrorism” and traveled extensively, in this country and abroad, speaking on the subject. He retired as a Deputy Inspector in 2000 and began writing. In 2004, he led a law enforcement mission to Israel. His stories have been published in numerous magazines and newspapers. Bronx Justice, based on an actual case, his first novel, came out in 2016. His second book, the non-fiction 9/11 Remembered-Twenty Years Later, was published in June 2021.
In doing publicity for the 9/11 book, I was often asked about my motivation for writing both books. My answer was very simple-Bronx Justice was a book I wanted to write. 9/11 Remembered was a book I had to write. I retired in 2000 and was not involved in the response on that horrific day, but many of my NYPD friends were. Hearing the incredible stories of those that survived and the tales of those who made the ultimate sacrifice that day were awe-inspiring. Their bravery and willingness to sacrifice their own lives to try and save others filled me with tremendous sorrow and pride to have been a member of that department for 32 years. To see how these heroes were treated twenty years later, the violence and abuse heaped on these men and women on the streets of New York was sickening. I knew I had to get the stories of so many incredible first responders, true heroes, out for the public to learn.
Then Lieutenant, now Chief Terri Tobin, standing at the foot of the South Tower as it comes down. She was blown out of her shoes and hurled sixty feet across West Street, trapped in the debris. Her bullet-resistant Kevlar helmet was penetrated by a four-inch piece of concrete now embedded in her skull. She digs herself out and assists in getting a firefighter out from under an ambulance. When the North Tower falls, again she is hurled across West Street, this time with a two-foot piece of plate glass stuck between her shoulder blades. She continues to assist others until she’s finally transported to a New Jersey hospital, where she is treated for a severe concussion and broken ankle. Eighty stitches close her head and back wounds. And she wants to return to the Trade Center. That this incredible woman, if working the Summer of 2000 street unrest, could be ridiculed, cursed, and have objects thrown at her in the name of Justice, is unbelievable. There are many more stories similar to Chief Tobin’s.
The most challenging part of my writing process is (bonus points if you guessed)-Writing. My first book Bronx Justice took almost sixteen years to complete. For months on end, the manuscript sat in a drawer, unseen by human eyes, until I was blessed to meet a six-time NY Times best-selling author named Vincent Lardo. Vince got me into a writing group he was in, and for the first time, I had “Deadlines.” “Bob, you will read to the group next Thursday, send twelve new pages to the group by Monday. Under that pressure, the book was finished in two years.
9/11 Remembered came with its own deadline. I decided to write it in January 2021. It had to be completed well before the 20th anniversary of the attacks that September. The fact that I had decided that all proceeds from the book would be going to a 9/11 charity (The 3256 Foundation set up to honor NYPD Emergency Service Unit Sergeant and USMC Desert Storm veteran Mike Curtin who was killed on 9/11)
About – 3256 Foundation
https://www.3256-foundation.org › about
made getting it out as early as possible a must. It came out in June 2021.
So, in my case, deadlines make me sit down and write. That’s the reason I like writing for newspapers. I can see something in the paper that I feel needs commenting on, knock out a piece in about one hour, submit it, and generally get a yea or nay within twenty-four hours.
One tip I learned is-do not procrastinate in writing the piece and sending it in. I had seen a story that I wished to comment on, usually in the form of an Op-Ed, and debated about doing it for a day. When I submitted it, I got a reply from the editor along the lines of, “If I had seen this yesterday, it would have been in today’s edition. Unfortunately for you, we covered that story today.” So now, as soon as I get the idea, I write and submit the piece. I’ve been lucky enough to place stories in New York Newsday, the New York Post, and the Daily News.
My favorite authors are the usual suspects in the mystery/crime genre- Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, and in my humble opinion, the all-time master of dialogue, the late, great Elmore Leonard. His advice to aspiring writers to “leave out the parts people don’t read” is priceless.
I also love two authors who take their crime stories out West. Craig Johnson’s Longmire and C.J. Box’s Joe Pickett series have a special appeal to me. Johnson’s Sheriff Walt Longmire and Box’s Game Warden Joe Pickett are both set in Wyoming. As a member of the NYPD, I always knew that if the “shit hit the fan” and I needed help on the streets of New York, the cavalry would be riding to my rescue minutes after I put a call over the air. For Longmire and Pickett, it’s more likely hours in the wilds of Wyoming.
My advice to aspiring writers-get writing and get into a good writing group.
Links to my books
Lynn Hesse is the award-winning author of the novels: Well of Rage, Murder in Mobile, Another Kind of Hero, A Matter of Respect, Murder in Mobile, Book 2, and The Forty Knots Burn. Her last two novels won the 2023 Georgia Independent Authors Association Awards for Best Police Procedural, Best Cover Adult Fiction, Best Suspense/Thriller, and the Spotlight on Georgia Fiction.
Outside my bedroom window, the monarch butterfly gathering pollen from my yellow lantana reminds me why I keep judging and entering contests. Surely, it’s not optimism. One day, my writing may brighten a person’s day or make them stop and think, but… Writing is part of my creative life force, a compulsion. I want my voice heard and appreciated, or I wouldn’t write. I need the reinforcement of positive feedback, and I assume others do, too. Of course, first-place winner has a nice ring to it. With second place, I never know if the piece needs more work or if the introverted, quirky protagonist or the reoccurring southern blue-collar themed plot wasn’t relatable to my judges. One academic beta reader told me my language was beautiful, but she couldn’t relate to the characters. Usually, it’s my plain language that critics dismiss as unworthy of their time.
In the past, I judged local writers’ contests in the Atlanta area, and this year, I sponsored a crime-fiction contest for a regional writer’s association. In the second instance, I made up the guidelines for submission and listed Shunn’s formatting rules as an expectation. Nobody followed them. I was left with the dilemma of whether to give monetary prizes for submissions that took my time to wade through novice mistakes: single spacing, no indentions, and page numbers literally in the middle of the pages, not in the footer. I hadn’t anticipated the necessity to clarify that the submissions wouldn’t be read if they didn’t follow standard manuscript formatting, and I felt the weight of responsibility as a solo judge. I caved.
In one contest, I followed strict guidelines set up by a guest agent and scored the writers on different categories such as character development, plot, pace, voice, use of language, grammar, and conflict. The agent picked the winners in each genre and non-genre category from the accumulated scores. I suspect this ten-page scoring system was more equitable for the contestants but a stretch for busy authors trying to complete their short story and novel deadlines.
Again, manuscript formatting wasn’t a priority in this example.
Being jaded, I wondered if the judges narrowed the field for the guest agent and helped find their next breakout novelist. Rather like a professor assigning each student of education to make a children’s book for their final, thus giving the professor material for their thesis. Moving forward, minus my opinion, five judges scored each entry in the second contest example. Although there was a comment section dedicated to giving positive feedback on each entry, I suspected the writers griped about the critical, unjust comments.
I have felt slighted when a one-judge panelist’s comments ran toward the negative, and they didn’t try to filter out their preferences, if not bias, in what they read. It reminds me of reviewers who don’t like your genre or miss that it’s a police procedural, not a mystery, and make comments based on their misconceptions.
With my hesitations put aside about judging others’ work or having mine judged, I’ve decided this fall to volunteer to read and judge ten spooky stories written by 3rd-8th graders. I will fill out the provided scoring form on each submission, and because I love spooky stories by imaginative children, I can gladly forego formatting guidelines. My expectations are minimal. I hope they can write a sentence. My fear is that they’ll write words on the page in a pretty shape like I did in the first grade and think this frazzled adult mind can figure out the puzzle. “You are as sweet as the morning flowers,” I wrote to my mother, who realized by my pouting face that she had missed something important. All the necessary words were present on the paper, plus a red crayon drawing of a flower, but not in any logical order. My overworked mother and father stayed up into the “wee hours of the night,” figuring out what my grade-school mind and heart was trying to say. Mother laminated and framed this early work.
May I do justice to the budding children, the writers of unfiltered truth, and hear their voices.
My mother and sister taught elementary children with hearing and learning disabilities in Atlanta and Lamar and Monroe Counties in Georgia. They will haunt and curse me if I crush a child’s fledgling spirit. The beast of responsibility is nipping at my heels again. To mitigate my bias, I’ll include in the comment section Mr. Kurt Vonnegut’s advice to first please yourself: “If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.” Believe in your story and hone your skills.
A Matter of Respect Forty Knots Burn
Lynn’s short story “Sabotage and A Murder Mystery” is published in Malice, Matrimony, and Murder, 25 Wedding Cozy Mystery and Crime Fiction Stories published by Marla Bradeen and available in November 2023 at local retailers.
“Shrewd Women” was reprinted in Crimeucopia, Boomshalalaking, Modern Crimes in Modern Times, UK in June 2023 and published by Onyx Publications and Discovery Podcast in 2022. Bitter Love,” a humorous view of a homicide detective having a lousy day, appeared in Crimeucopia, The I’s Have It by Murderous Ink Press, 2021, UK. “Jewel’s Hell” was in the Me Too Short Stories: An Anthology edited by Elizabeth Zelvin, published in 2019 by Level Best Books. Lynn left law enforcement to write and lives with her husband and his six rescue cats near Atlanta, Georgia, where she performs in several dance troupes.
Scribblers Web https:www.scribblersweb.com