Tag Archives: mystery

The Fruits of Research

I wasn’t able to get quite as much writing done last week as I wanted to, but I was able to get in some much-needed research. Specifically, I was researching the early 20th century labor movement, focusing on the tactics of the early unions and the steps that were taken by corporations and politicians to curb their power and end labor strikes. What I found is that this was a very chaotic time in our country’s history.

Many people feared that unionization was a big step in turning our country over to the Marxists in Russian, and this was a connection often pushed by those who opposed unions, and many unions often resorted to armed opposition against local police and private security agents [like the Pinkertons]. Several major clashes occurred between these two sides between 1919 and 1921, resulting in no small number of deaths. Needless to say, it was incredibly compelling to read about all this and in doing so I was able to pick up some ideas for the third Allison Newberry mystery and to break through a few blocks that had developed with regards to the progression of the story.

So, that does give a little taste as to what the third story is going to be about, although the labor movement is not the central plot of the story. For the rest of this week, I’ll continue writing the story and hopefully be able to go more in-depth on what it’s all about very soon.


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Weekly Goals for 4/16

These days, it seems like something crops up every day that keeps me busy. That’s not all bad, of course, but it does mean my writing progress is often slow and haphazard. Even so, I’m still pushing ahead with the third Allison Newberry mystery. My goal last week was to get up to 10k words. I didn’t get that far, but I’m currently really close to that goal. So, it’s still coming along. Things are a little bit different with this story, thanks in part to new characters and a new setting, but it’s also different in that it does not start with a murder already having been committed  Well, actually it does, bu…you’ll see for yourself when the story’s finished.

Anyway, the story is moving along and I’m getting very close to the day when I’ll be able to provide some solid details on the story [and the name of the book]. With this story, I’m continuing in the trends set by the first two: to provide an interesting mystery tinged with danger and deception, in a location that itself is a major part of the story. With what I’ve done so far, I know I can deliver on that again.

Basically, what I’m writing right now is the foundation. The first few chapters will establish characters and their relationships to one another, rather than dive straight into an investigation. As with the second book, the third will feature a broad cast of very different characters, each with their own motives and goals. I also want to try to dive deeper into the mind of Allison Newberry, find out what makes her work and how her experiences in the first two cases of her career have changed her. The trick, of course, is in how I can make that every bit as interesting as everything else in the story. So, it is a struggle in some regards, finding the balance between people talking and thing happening, but this is something that I really want to focus on, even more so than in the previous two books.

That’s all for now, I’ll be sure to keep all of you posted on that book’s status.

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Weekly Goals for 4/08

The goal this week is to get back into the swing of things. For various reasons, I haven’t been to get much writing done lately, but I’m hoping to have the time this week to change that. As I mentioned earlier, I’m starting work on the third Allison Newberry mystery. So far, I’ve got a good idea to work from, an interesting new location, and a brand new case that’s gotta be solved. The current word count is roughly 7,200 and I’m hoping to write at least 1,000 words per day, at least while I’m still trying to work out some of the plot elements. See, although I’m already writing it, there are a few things that I’m still not sure about. Basically, the logic of the situation I’m setting up still needs to be worked out, because certain parts of it don’t necessarily make the most sense. Now, sometimes you have to do things that don’t make sense, but they still need to feel like they’re something that’s possible within this world and by these characters.

But give it a little time and I’ll get there!

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The Third Allison Newberry Mystery

This week has been spent mostly on working on what I want to write next. I’ve got lots of ideas, some of which are more developed than others, but what I have ultimately decided to work on next is the third Allison Newberry mystery. I feel like I have a very good basis to work from and a story that will be worthy of  being the next step in the series. At present, I’m not ready to actually get into the details  just yet. Suffice it to say that it will continue to live up to the legacy created by the previous two books, by providing an interesting location, lots of different characters, and a few dangers along the road to solving Allison’s third major case. I’ll be sure provide more information in the coming weeks and months.

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Weekly Goals for 3/04

This week is much the same as last week. I’m still working my way through Beyond Sand and Sky, which is coming along very well. Unfortunately, this phase of writing is fairly slow, because I’m actually doing a lot of rewrites along the way. Just about every sentence in the story is being reworked for quality, coherence, and length. A lot of the sentences were just too long and too convoluted, owing to me going through a phase of wanting more complex and interesting sentence. It sort of worked, and sort of didn’t. I did eventually manage to move away from curt, clinical sentences and develop better writing skills, but the more immediate results included a novel with lots of bloated and confusion sentences. So, I’m taking my current skill level and working to bring the writing quality in this slightly older story up to where it should be at this stage in my development as a writer.

I’m also looking into ways to get more promotion for Eyes of Diamond, Hair of Gold. I gave away 50 digital copies of the book to interested readers at Library Thing, which I hope will result in a bevy of reviews and some much-needed attention. Another thing I’m doing is contacting websites that review indie books and seeing if any of them are interested in reading it.

Well, those are my two main goals right now: get more people interested in my last book and finish up work on my next book.

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Weekly Goals for 2/25

Eyes of Diamond, Hair of Gold is now finished and available for sale. This was a big project for me, not necessarily in length or the complexity of the story, but in writing a sequel that would continue the tradition set by the original story and exceed it in the ways that it needed to be exceeded. I feel very confident that I was able to do that. If you’ve not gotten your own copy yet, you can find the Kindle version on Amazon and the paperback version on Create Space [links are available on the right side of the main page and in the book specific tag at the top of the main page]. If you’ve already got it, read it and enjoy it!

As for what I’m working on this week, I’m going back to a fantasy story I wrote some time ago and then set aside for a while. It’s a dark fantasy odyssey called Between Sand and Sky about an exiled prince’s search through a desert wasteland for his long-lost sister. It’s a story I’m particularly proud of, because I put a lot of work into creating characters that felt unique and compelling and then giving them ample opportunity to be developed over the course of the story, particularly the relationship between the prince and a slavegirl he rescues along the way. So, for now, I’m getting it all fixed up and fleshing out this rough draft into something that’s ready for people to read it. Hopefully, that won’t take too long.


Filed under Between Sand and Sky, Fantasy, Writing

The Allison Newberry Mysteries

What is this series about?

When I decided to start writing a mystery [before that I had written science fiction and fantasy almost exclusively], I wanted to write about murders that were a bit different from the norm. The idea was to set up situations and cases that other detectives didn’t necessarily want to deal with, either because of their sensitive nature or because of their perceived complexity.

So, the case would fall to one detective in particular: Allison Newberry, a junior detective who is given the case in the first novel because no one else wanted it. And rather than just a standard investigation into a case, finding clues, piecing together clues, and then making an arrest, I wanted to have the investigation uncover something even more sinister and dangerous than the original murder.

Who is Allison Newberry?

My two biggest inspirations for writing in the mystery genre are Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot and Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. Having said that, I don’t really consider Allison to fit in the mold of the neurotic detective who notices little details or makes connections that no one else notices. She’s also not an action hero who goes in with two guns blazing. I wanted to build a character who isn’t necessarily the greatest detective in the world, but makes up for a lack of experience with a deep-seated tenacity that makes her willing to see any case through to its end, regardless of how dangerous her situation becomes.

With all my characters, I’ve striven to keep them gray, rather than strictly black and white. There are no great heroes, there are no happy endings with all the loose ends neatly tied up into a bow. I’ve always kind of disliked the ending where all the good guys win and all the bad guys lose, everyone goes home happy. That thinking permeates my writing. So, to tie back into Allison Newberry, she’s not a hero who returns from her cases to bask in glory, but rather someone who strongly believes those who perpetrate the crime of murder should be brought in to answer for their actions.

What’s the world like?

Having been inspired by Poirot and Holmes, I wanted to use a similar setting [late-Victorian England]. However, as I mentioned earlier, I come from a background of fantasy and science fiction, so I decided to build my stories around a custom-made world.

Using a “fantasy” world, however, is a double-edge sword. On the one hand, I’m not constricted by reality, I can build my world however I want to and do whatever I want with it. On the other hand, it loses that connection to the real world and some people might be put off by that. Nevertheless, this is how I’d like to write my stories, since I can do things that a historical setting wouldn’t allow me to do.

The world is heavily inspired by Victorian England, all the way down to many of the terms used. The level of technology is roughly somewhere between late-19 century and early-20th century, with the industrial revolution kicking into full swing, the prevalence of flint-lock weapons, and a continued reliance on horses that is slowly giving way to steam-powered transportation. It does contain a few elements of steampunk, but they’re definitely not steampunk stories. I’ve drawn a few ideas from that subgenre and used them in my stories, but they’re not about cramming in every steampunk element I could find and then hoping that it somehow results in an interesting story. I’ve tried to use them judiciously and in ways that make sense for each story.

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Filed under Eyes of Diamond Hair of Gold, Murder at the End of the World, Mystery, Writing