DEB RICHARDSON-MOORE – From Journalist to Minister to Author of Twisty Murder Mysteries

Deb Richardson-Moore is a former journalist who had a second career as pastor of a church that included homeless parishioners. Now a full-time author, she writes murder mysteries that fall somewhere between cozies and gritty psychological thrillers.

Her six titles include the three-volume Branigan Powers series, the stand-alones Murder, Forgotten and Through Any Window, and a memoir about her early years as a pastor, The Weight of Mercy.

Deb and her husband live in Greenville, South Carolina, and are the parents of three adult children.

In Deb’s newest release, Through Any Window, 25-year-old Riley flees to her cousin’s upscale home in a gentrifying Southern neighborhood where ritzy houses rise beside crumbling boarding houses and homeless people live in nearby woods. When a double murder explodes, detectives are left wondering: Are the deaths personal or the result of the neighborhood’s simmering economic tensions? And is Riley to blame, as someone has so meticulously planned?

 

Do you write in more than one genre? Not anymore. After my memoir about my harrowing early years as a pastor to street dwellers, my publisher in England asked if I’d write a sequel. But that didn’t interest me. I wanted to write a murder mystery like those I’d read all my life. He encouraged me, and I combined things I’d learned about homelessness with the mystery genre. In The Cantaloupe Thief, The Cover Story, and Death of a Jester, a homeless man helps a news reporter solve crimes by seeing and hearing things most of their townspeople don’t.

What brought you to writing? Voracious reading. As far back as second grade, teachers challenged me to write stories for extra credit. I veered into journalism early, editing my high school and college newspapers, then wrote for The Greenville (SC) News for 27 years.

Where do you write? What, if any, distractions do you allow? I write in a bright sunroom with five uncovered windows overlooking my backyard. My latest purchase is a metal riser that lifts my laptop so I don’t hunch over to read the screen. It’s a back saver! As far as distractions, I allow them all – coffee with friends, yard work, televised thrillers. I’m not writing for money at this stage, so I can take my time and enjoy the process.

Tell us about your writing process. Well, it’s inefficient, I’ll tell you that. I just jump in and start a scene or a book. As the characters and setting gain clarity, things occur to me. So, I go back frequently to add necessary scenes and plant clues. In Through Any Window, I was more than halfway through before I realized that I wanted the relationship between two sisters to be fleshed out. It meant moving some chapters around and adding flashbacks, but I think the novel became stronger.

What are you currently working on? I’m working on a book set on a fictional South Carolina barrier island. In The Last Beach Town, a prickly young woman inherits her family’s seaside home but arrives to find that her aunt’s murder is complicating the bequest.

Do you ever kill a popular character? If so, what happens to your story? I did this once, and it opened up an entirely new line of action. I loved the freedom it gave the manuscript. However, I had to defend the decision – vigorously – to my writers’ group. One member complained that I’d broken a contract with the reader. I was gratified that she cared enough about the character to object so vociferously!

Do you have subplots? If so, how do you weave them into the novel’s arc? You have to have subplots, I think. There’s only so much tension and “fear gripping her” that can be sustained within the main plot. The trick is to weave subplots in without losing sight or veering too far from the central storyline. My subplots crop up as I flesh out characters, and I try to be open to them. But in the book I’m writing, I have a subplot that I’m having trouble resolving. It may not survive the rewrite.

How do you raise the stakes for your protagonist—for the antagonist? Ah, the $64,000 question. I grow weary of books where the protagonist is forever being chased or stalked, but you do need her in a certain amount of fear and trepidation. Maybe you can plant worry about several things simultaneously. Perhaps you can hint at danger from a character she trusts. Or, my personal favorite, maybe you can have her pet behave oddly. (See Murder, Forgotten.)

Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? I use a mix of real and fictional locations but sometimes change the names of the real ones. That way, I have something in my head to describe, but I don’t have to worry about getting everything exactly right. In Murder, Forgotten, I used two real seacoasts I was familiar with – Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, and the fishing village of Crail in Scotland. In Through Any Window, I use an urban park in my hometown but call it by a different name.

What is the best book you have ever read? Oh, my, what a difficult question. But certainly among the top five is We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. I finished it as my husband was driving me to guest preach in another city. I was so shell-shocked by the ending that I could hardly get out of the car.

Do you have any advice for new writers? Write what interests you, not what others tell you is hot or marketable. I think it’s impossible to predict what agents or publishers will be looking for 18 months from now. And writing a book is so laborious that you want to enjoy the world and characters you create. Also, know that your inner critic will raise her ugly head from time to time. Her presence is part of the process. Ignore her.

How do our readers contact you?

Email richardsonmoored@gmail.com
Web site www.debrichardsonmoore.com
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/deb.richardsonmoore/
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/debrichardsonmoore/
Publisher https://redadeptpublishing.com/
Just for fun https://booklisti.com/booklist/5-mysteries-twisted-me-into-knots-deb-richardson-moore/lx3x96y
Books are available
Amazon https://www.amazon.com/stores/Deb-Richardson-Moore/author/B008ALE12Y?
Fiction Addiction https://www.fiction-addiction.com/
M. Judson Booksellers https://mjudsonbooks.com/local-authors/
Facebook groups:
Upstate Sisters in  Crime: https://www.facebook.com/groups/upstatescsistersincrime
South Carolina Writers Association: https://www.facebook.com/groups/51934904087
Southern Authors and Readers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1284419714917352
Partners in Crime Writing: https://www.facebook.com/groups/226018664078743
Friends and Fiction: https://www.facebook.com/groups/FriendsandFiction
Bookish Bibliophiles: https://www.facebook.com/groups/aliterarycoven

4 Comments

  1. John Schembra

    Interesting blog post. I share some of te same writing techniques with you, Good luck with your writing.

    Reply
  2. Michael A. Black

    It sounds like you’ve got a lot of great ideas for books, Reverend, and God bless you for the work you do with the homeless. That’s got to be very hard. Best of luck to you with your writing.

    Reply
    • George Cramer

      Thank you for posting with us. AND, thanks for the kind words.

      Reply

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PATY JAGER – Brings Westerns and Native American Stories

Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 55 novels, eight novellas, and numerous anthologies of murder mystery and western romance. All her work has Western or Native American elements, hints of humor, and engaging characters.Paty and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. Riding horses and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes about the Western lifestyle, but she also lives it.

Thank you, George, for inviting me to your blog. The Pinch, book 5 in my Spotted Pony Casino Mystery series, was published on February 22nd. It is available for pre-order.

Dela Alvaro, a disabled veteran and head of security for the Spotted Pony Casino, is doing a security check for a casino on the Oregon Coast when a child is kidnapped and Dela’s friend is murdered.

The idea for this story has been in my head for many years. I usually plan two writing retreats a year at the Oregon Coast. I stay a week and get a lot of writing done because I’m not catering to the animals or my husband. There aren’t any chores, and I write, walk on the beach, and write more.

On one such trip, I was walking along the beach, enjoying the briny salt air and the mist of the fog and waves. I noticed an older man with a boy about four or five out at the water’s edge. The boy was splashing and digging with a plastic shovel. I continued walking and noticed a boat close to the shore, or closer than any I’d witnessed before. My gaze gravitated to rocks sticking up out of the waves a good thirty or more feet from where the water lapped at the beach. Watching the splashing waves and enjoying the moment, I thought I saw the head of a seal bobbing by the rocks. That seemed dangerous, but they are good swimmers. I continued on and eventually turned around, heading back to where I’d entered the beach.

The boat was gone, and the older man walked up to the hotel without the boy. I looked around and didn’t see him anywhere. That was where my imagination kicked in. By the time I was back at the place I was staying, I’d come up with a kidnapping, a premise, and how it would play out. My only problem is that I was writing romance books at the time, and I didn’t see how to use this in western romance.

However, the idea stayed with me, and when I started writing mysteries, I kept coming back to the idea, trying first to make it fit with my character in the Shandra Higheagle mysteries, but I didn’t see how I could make it work. Then, when I started writing the Gabriel Hawke novels, I thought, now, I can use that story. But even though I took Hawke to Iceland for a book, I couldn’t find a plausible reason for him to be on the Oregon Coast.

Then came the Spotted Pony Casino mystery series and Dela Alvaro, my disabled veteran who is head of security for the Spotted Pony Casino on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation. After four books where she has helped the FBI and Tribal Police track down killers, she has a reputation for running a tight security staff. She is invited to a Tribal casino on the Oregon Coast to help them tighten up security, and now I could finally see how my story and premise would play out.

When I decided now was the time to write the book, a friend and I went on a road trip to visit a casino on the Oregon Coast. I had planned to use that casino in the book. Still, when I started making fictional employees at the casino accomplices in the crime, I decided I needed a fictional casino. Then, my mind wasn’t tied to logistics anymore, either.

Even though I had visited the casino and talked to security staff, I kept running into things I hadn’t realized I’d need to know to write the story, and the emails I’d sent to the casino asking questions went unanswered. Having the epiphany to use a fictional casino as I do in the Spotted Pony Casino books freed up my mind to work on the kidnapping and murder rather than logistics.

This series points out the widespread danger that Indigenous people- mostly women, face. My main character lives with the fact that in high school, she left her best friend in a small town not far from the reservation because she didn’t want to leave when my character had to get back for basketball practice. She is found the next day murdered and sexually assaulted. In the first book where this character comes to life, Stolen Butterfly in my Gabriel Hawke novels, she helps find two women missing from the reservation and last seen at the casino.

In this book, she not only has to deal with a missing child but she is reunited with a best friend from her time in the military, only to have her murdered. One more slash to my character’s heart and one more spark to make her always find justice.

This book took a long time to come to fruition, but I believe it was worth it.

Recent Projects

I published Christmas Chaos in October to give readers of my Shandra Higheagle Mystery series some closure. A short story with Dela and Heath characters in my Spotted Pony Casino Mystery series is available in the Windtree Press Whispers anthology.

Blurb / Long- Dela Alvaro, head of security for the Spotted Pony Casino, is asked to do a security check of a casino on the Oregon Coast. She no sooner starts her rounds at the casino than a child is kidnapped. The parents are a dubious couple. Special Agent Quinn Pierce of the FBI has been out to get the father for some time.

One of Dela’s best friends from the Army appears, and they catch up, only to find her friend strangled the next morning after having divulged to Dela she may have photos of the kidnapping.

As Dela struggles with the violent death of yet another best friend, her lover, Tribal Officer Heath Seaver, arrives, and the two begin untangling the lies, bribes, and murders.

In the end, as Heath carries the child to safety, Dela must face a cunning killer alone.

Blurb / Short – Dela Alvaro, a disabled veteran and head of security for the Spotted Pony Casino, is doing a security check for a casino on the Oregon Coast when a child is kidnapped and Dela’s friend is murdered.

Groups I belong to:
Crimescene writers loop
Sisters in Crime
Niwa
Alli
Author’s Guild
20 Books 50
Links
Book link for The Pinch – Universal book link- https://books2read.com/u/38Y787
Social Media Links
TikTok – @authorpatyjager
Instagram – @patymjager
YouTube – @PatyJager
Facebook – Author Paty Jager
Twitter – @patyjag
website – https://www.patyjager.net
blogs – https://ladiesofmystery.com and https://writingintothesunset.net

10 Comments

  1. Pamela Ruth Meyer

    Wow, George and Paty, this was a great post. It’s reassuring to know that the spark of an idea can last that long. It’s inspirational, really. Thanks, and best of luck with your launch of THE PINCH, Paty.

    Reply
    • Paty Jager

      Pamela, thank you! Yes, it was an idea that hung in there until the right book came along. Thank you for stopping by and commenting!

      Reply
  2. Carl Vonderau

    It’s amazing where the stories come from. Your fiction writing mind is always at work. The books sounds great.

    Reply
    • Paty Jager

      Carl, Thank you. Yes, I have an active imagination and it keeps stories coming at me faster than I can write them.

      Reply
  3. Peg Roche

    Looking forward to reading “The Pinch”. I can picture the setting and am interested in your lead character. Those twice a year retreats sound like a great idea! Good luck with this new book. Thanks for the introduction, George!

    Reply
    • Paty Jager

      Peg, Thank you for stopping in and commenting. I do enjoy my retreats and get a lot accomplished when I’m there.

      Reply
  4. Kathleen Kaska

    I enjoyed reading about your latest mystery. You are such a prolific writer!

    Reply
    • Paty Jager

      Hi Kathleen, Thank you! I have fun coming up with the premises and hopefully enlightening people as well as entertaining them.

      Reply
  5. Michael A. Black

    Sounds like you use your powers of observation to come up with new plots, which is really neat. Your series sounds fascinating, but I have to ask…. did you ever find out what happened to the little boy? Best of luck to you.

    Reply
    • Paty Jager

      Hi Michael, No. I never knew what happened to the little boy. I never saw the older man again either. It is one of those mysteries that will rattle around in head and help me to come up with other scenarios for books.

      Reply

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JENNIFER J. CHOW – Cozies and Fortune Cookies

Jennifer J. Chow writes cozies filled with hope and heritage. She is an Agatha, Anthony, and Lefty Award-nominated author. Her newest series is the Magical Fortune Cookie mysteries; the first book is Ill-Fated Fortune (February 2024). Jennifer’s previous series is the L.A. Night Market Mysteries. Death by Bubble Tea was reviewed by the New York Times, featured in Woman’s World, and hit the SoCal Indie Bestseller List.

Jennifer currently serves as Immediate Past President on the board of Sisters in Crime and blogs at chicksonthecase.com. She is an active member of Crime Writers of Color and Mystery Writers of America

Felicity Jin and her mother run a magical bakery in the quaint town of Pixie, California. Their life is charmed—until a prediction from one of Felicity’s handmade fortune cookies comes true in an unlucky, murderous way.

Researching the Fortune Cookie  – Book research takes you down unexpected paths. When I first thought up my new series, I figured fortune cookies would be an excellent treat for my baker protagonist to make. I mean, what’s more Chinese American than a fortune cookie?

Turns out there’s a lot of interesting history (and some drama) behind the humble cookie. I’d grown up eating and serving a lot of fortune cookies. My family, after all, owned a Chinese restaurant. At the end of every meal, I’d be sure to bring a customer their check along with a free fortune cookie.

Little did I know then that in uncovering the convoluted history of the fortune cookie, I’d find Japanese roots. After online research and a thorough reading of Jennifer 8. Lee’s The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, I traced the cookie’s origin to tsujiura senbei. This wafer-like cookie from the Kyoto region of Japan also has an enclosed fortune, although it has a more savory flavor than the modern fortune cookie.

In America, California is definitely the birthplace of the fortune cookie, with entrepreneurs from San Francisco and Los Angeles claiming to be the original makers of the cookie. And around World War II, both Japanese and Chinese restaurants appeared to serve the treat. With the incarceration of Japanese Americans during that tumultuous period, though, the manufacturers of the cookies shifted. Chinese bakeries started making fortune cookies—and eventually developed a mechanized process to mass-produce them.

So, through my research, I learned that fortune cookies aren’t tied to my Chinese roots like I’d expected. I hint at this fact in Ill-Fated Fortune, the first in my Magical Fortune Cookie mysteries. However, they could be considered American—at least the sweet vanilla version. In the end, I guess that factoid accurately reflects my main character: Felicity Jin, the third generation in her family to live in the U.S.

Connect with Jennifer online and sign up for her newsletter at JenniferJChow.com

Ill-Fated Fortune released 2/20/24

Here’s a buy link: https://read.macmillan.com/lp/ill-fated-fortune/

FACEBOOK GROUPS (though I’m not really that active anymore):
https://www.facebook.com/groups/DialCforCozy
https://www.facebook.com/groups/726103940858234/

8 Comments

  1. Carl Vonderau

    I didn’t know that fascinating history about fortune cookies. Sounds like a great series.

    Reply
  2. Michael A. Black

    Jennifer, I just broke open my fortune cookie and it says: Ms. Chow will have much good fortune and success. It sounds like you’re riding the crest of the wave. Best of luck to you.

    Reply
    • Jennifer J. Chow

      Ha, Michael! That’d be an amazing fortune. Thank you!

      Reply
  3. Margaret Mizushima

    How cool, Jennifer! I’ll have to tell my husband about this. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Jennifer J. Chow

      Hurrah, Margaret! And, yes, let your husband know.

      Reply

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BRUCE LEWIS – Journalist to Author

Bruce Lewis graduated from California State University at Long Beach with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. After completing the 36-week Copley Newspaper Training Program, working as a reporter for six California daily and weekly newspapers, he began a seven-year career as a general assignment reporter. During that period, he wrote over 5,000 stories and won six awards for best news and feature writing. He specialized in crime news, going undercover with cops and covering the courts, sheriffs, California Highway Patrol, and fire districts.

His post-retirement bucket list included writing one novel. That novel, Human Strays (published originally in November of 2021 under a different name and title), was intended to be his one and only. Like most writers, he got the fiction-writing bug. He wrote and published four novels in three years: 1-Angel of Mercy, 2-Human Strays, 3-Family Curse, 4-The Red Flock, and the novelette Love Storm. He is working on his fifth novel in the series, Bless Me, Father—For You Have Sinned.

After retiring and settling in Portland, Oregon, Bruce created a bucket list:

  • Create a family genealogy (completed in 2020)
  • Write a novel (completed in 2020)
  • Kick the bucket (just joking)

“The idea for my first thriller, Human Strays, baked for a decade before I wrote it. The idea came from a pro bono project I took on to benefit the Mendocino Coast Humane Society (MCHS),” said Lewis. “One of my fellow Mendocino Rotarians, the chair of the Human Society Board of Directors, asked me to help promote The Ark, the Society’s thrift store, a major source of funds to support its mission. As president and co-founder of Lewis & Summers Public Relations (based in Lafayette, California), it was a natural extension of work I was already doing for a half dozen clients on the coast.”

Bruce toured the Humane Society to help plan his fundraising strategy to save and house stray cats and dogs. An hour later, Lewis was coming out of a supermarket in Fort Bragg, where a homeless man dug food scraps out of a trash can.

“Buy a sandwich,” I said, handing him five dollars. He looked at it, stuck it in his pocket, and continued his treasure hunt, swallowing a few ounces of leftover soda from someone’s fast-food lunch.

“That evening, it hit me: homeless humans are strays like the dogs and cats temporarily housed at the shelter. They sleep outdoors and scrounge for food to survive.”

The First Novel –  Fast forward ten years to 2015, when Lewis retired: “My wife and I had moved to Portland, Oregon, where I began drafting Human Strays. The book’s theme is about veterinarian Jim Briggs’s effort to save a drug-addicted homeless woman by finding her a permanent home. If he could save one, Briggs figured he could save others.

Lewis said he wrote the book over two years, working primarily at Ovation, a busy coffee shop on the edge of Portland’s Field Park, under the Fremont Bridge.

“I’d walk a mile to the coffee shop with my laptop, write for an hour or two, then walk home. During these strolls, I thought of new characters, how to write scenes, and how to fix the organizational mess I created by using nifty author software to move chapters freely from one location to another. A steady diet of Moroccan Lattes and right-out-of-the-oven toasted coconut scones fueled my writing. The exercise walks didn’t hurt.”

“On any day at the coffee shop, I could be surrounded by a hubbub of cyclists getting their caffeine fix, women from a nearby yoga class gossiping about their lives, or a group of young mothers in hijabs giggling, and I could tune it out. That’s the beauty of being a newspaper crime reporter for seven years, turning out copy every day on deadline in a chaotic newsroom.”

Because of that experience, he says he can write for an hour, wash a load of clothes, eat lunch, read a book, and then come back and write more with no problem getting back into the story.

Writing What You Know – Human Strays is filled with unsheltered characters, primarily based on homeless people Lewis had observed on his daily walks, looking for ideas and photos for his blog, WalkingPDX. He often combined several homeless people he observed into a single character, careful not to make a person identifiable.

When he finished Human Strays, he pitched it to numerous agents and publishers before he found an independent publisher with more than 500 authors under contract.

Despite having written some 8,000 stories during his newspaper and public relations careers, he discovered he had much to learn about writing fiction when he turned in his manuscript. Six weeks later, the rejection letter said, ‘I’m sorry, we won’t be representing you. Our reviewer said the writing was good, but there was too much tell and too little show. It might be too much to fix. But good luck.’

“I laugh about it now,” said Lewis. “I had to Google show versus tell. I looked at some examples and rewrote the book in six weeks, adding about 20,000 words of show. The updated version of the manuscript was accepted two weeks after he re-submitted it.

The Writing Bug – Like most writers who publish a novel, Lewis got the fiction-writing bug. He wrote and published four novels in three years: 1-Angel of Mercy, 2-Human Strays, 3-Family Curse, 4-The Red Flock, and the romantic mystery Love Storm. He is currently working on his fifth novel in the series, Bless Me, Father—For You Have Sinned (Summer 2024).

Asked if he is a pantser (someone who writes by the seat of his pants) or a plotter (plots every chapter before starting), Lewis smiled and said, “I’m a plotting pantser.” I create a one-page outline—one chapter per line—and then write by the seat of my pants. I can visualize scenes and write them as if I were there. I believe that’s the result of covering hundreds of news events as a reporter.”

Asked how he could have a veterinarian as a protagonist in his books without having been one. “Easy,” he said. “I had dogs for 25 years, met many vets, and learned about dog care first-hand, including putting down our Beagle, Mac.” When in doubt, he visited the website of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

Writing What You Know – “Of course, I make up stuff, but a good amount of my novels are sprinkled with lived experiences, like Veterinarian Jim Briggs saying goodbye to his dying mother in Human Strays:

Briggs leaned over and whispered to Susie, “I love you, Mom. I’ll miss you.” An instant later, her head flew off the pillow, her eyes bulging with terror, inches from Brigg’s face. He jumped back. Just as quickly, she lay back down, as inert as before.

Lewis confided, “This is just how it happened when I removed my Mom from life support on Mother’s Day 2004.

Bruce Lewis – Author

Website: http://www.TheAngelOfMercy.com
Email:  blewis16@icloud.com
Instagram: PDXWalker

3 Comments

  1. Deven Greene

    Thanks for the interesting insight into your writing career. Even though you are no longer working against a newspaper deadline, you are very productive! While generally “unseen,” the unhoused are an important topic of discussion these days. Best of luck with your next book, Bless Me Father–For You Have Sinned. Interesting title!

    Reply
  2. Michael A. Black

    A lot of reporters gravitate naturally to fiction writing. Your background seems to be tailor made for this. Good luck with your writing, but be careful around those homeless people. I found them sad but sometimes unpredictable and volatile. Good luck with your new book.

    Reply
  3. Pamela Ruth Meyer

    A model for bucket lists the world over. Inspiring post. Thanks, George and Bruce.

    Reply

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JOAN LONG -A Locked Room Author

Joan Long is the author of the locked-room-style mystery THE FINALIST, which was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel. She is a third-generation Floridian who earned a degree in English/Creative Writing from Florida State University and a graduate degree in Journalism and Communications from The University of Florida. She has written for universities, public television, healthcare corporations, a magazine, and more.

Joan was a finalist in a Minotaur Books/Malice Domestic Best First Mystery Novel Competition and was a short-listed finalist for a William Faulkner-William Wisdom Award for Best Novel-in-Progress. Her short story “The Extra Ingredient” is published in the Anthony Award-winning anthology Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible.

Has an association membership helped you with your writing? Absolutely! Joining writing associations is probably the best thing I’ve done for my writing career. I’m a member of Sisters in Crime and its Guppy chapter, Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and the Authors Guild. Through these organizations, I continually learn the craft and business of writing. They also help me make connections with other authors. I’ve met some of my best friends through these groups.

How do you come up with character names? I use multiple sources—baby registries, online name generators, old phone books, and church directories. I try to begin each name with a different letter and vary the syllable lengths. As a reader, I find it confusing when character names are too similar. And because I want to be nice to audiobook narrators, my main characters’ names don’t end in s or th.

Do you outline, or are you a pantser? Outlining works best for me. I begin with a logline, followed by a brief synopsis and the outline. However, my outlines constantly change. They evolve as the story grows.

What kind of research do you do? Setting is an important element in my debut novel, The Finalist. Because the story takes place on a tropical island, I researched plants, flowers, local foods, charter boats, satellite radios, and—ahem!—how long it takes a person to dig a grave in sand.

Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? I prefer fictional settings that are loosely based on real locations. Key Island—the fictional location of The Finalist—takes place on a private island in the Caribbean. My work-in-progress is set in Florida in a fictional community near the Gulf of Mexico. Obviously, I like to write about warm-weather places!

Do you have any advice for new writers? I recommend learning the craft and becoming active in a writing community. I also suggest keeping a “Happiness Journal” or something similar. Remembering the great things that happen can help on days when writing is a challenge. Did you receive a wonderful blurb or a five-star review? Did you find your book in a library? Has your word count increased? Whatever it is that made your day, write it down. One of my favorite moments happened when I was going up an escalator. A woman riding the down escalator recognized me and shouted, “I’m reading your book!” I smile every time I think about it.

Many thanks to George Cramer for inviting me to post on his blog.

My website is https://joanlongbooks.com.

Here is my buy info:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09MSRF932
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-finalist-joan-long/1141005243
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?query=joan+long
IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781685120597
Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Finalist/Joan-Long/9781685120597
Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/books/the-finalist/9781685120597
Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-finalist/id1610738358
Walmart: https://walmart.com/ip/The-Finalist-Paperback-9781685

 

12 Comments

  1. Deb Richardson-Moore

    I love your settings and will pick up one of your books. Thanks for the interview, George.

    Reply
  2. Kathleen Kaska

    I enjoyed the interview, Joan and George. Your books look right us my alley, Joan. I will check it out. I like the idea of keeping a Happiness Journey!

    Reply
    • Joan Long

      Thank you so much, Kathleen! I hope you enjoy The Finalist.

      Reply
  3. Lida Sideris

    I love the idea of a Happiness Journal. Brilliant! And I loved reading The Finalist – a gripping, page turner, all the way.

    Reply
    • Joan Long

      Thank you, Lida! I’m so glad you enjoyed The Finalist!

      Reply
  4. Pamela Ruth Meyer

    Joan, your escalator story is contagious. LOVE IT! Best of luck with THE FINALIST!

    Reply
  5. Beth Schmelzer

    I love Joan Long’s locked room mystery novel. She’s a fun, encouraging novelist. The advice to keep a happiness journal mirrors my Inspiration Journal which I peruse often for happy feelings and a muse.

    Reply
    • Joan Long

      Thank you so much, Beth! I appreciate that, and I love that we both keep journals to bring us joy and inspiration!

      Reply
  6. Michael A. Black

    Excellent writing advice, Joan. I love your suggestion about maintaining a happiness journal. Your escalator story made me smile. Good luck with your writing.

    Reply

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