Blood Lines

The mystery of writing … well, mysteries

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    A rainy dawn breaks over a slum neighborhood in Washington, DC to reveal the brutally beaten body of a prominent judge. A few hours later, a suspect is arrested. But the judge’s daughter believes there are secrets that drove her father to his death, and she wants to know what they are. Clay Warner, a down-on-his-luck insurance investigator, is determined to discover the truth – and win back the love of his life. But he does not know how deep that truth lies buried, and how far some will go to make sure it’s never uncovered.
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Archive for the ‘Mysteries’ Category


Posted by Kevin on April 14, 2006

On a whim yesterday I stopped by the bookstore and picked out three "debut" novels by mystery writers: Whiskey Sour, by Konrath; A Cold Day in Paradise, by Hamilton; and Clean Cut, by Monsour. They are all relatively recent debuts by writers who have gone on to publish series. (Hamilton's the oldest, with a pub date of 1998 — which feels a lot more recent to me than I suppose it is.)

I'm not doing "market research" (see previous post) but rather wanted a little bit of inspiration from writers' other first works. I figure it doesn't hurt to be a little methodical in analyzing how they did what they did.

I read Konrath's book in a couple of hours. I've been reading his blog but hadn't read any of his books. It was one of those books that, if you stop to think about what's happening, you could spot cliche characters and events streaming at you from all sides. However, you don't have time to stop and think about what's happening — I couldn't put the damn thing down. Extremely effective at throwing one tense scene after another at the reader. Short chapters that keep you turning the page. And overall very enjoyable — I'm going to pick up the rest of his books.

Part of me feels like I shouldn't be reading mysteries while writing the draft. It can't be very good for self-esteem. (Konrath's book suddenly made my scenes feel very wordy, for example.) On the other hand, I've already decided that this is a "discovery" draft and it doesn't matter if it's any "good" or not. So I'm not going to let it get me down.

Hamilton's book, which garnered a lot of critical acclaim and awards, is next.


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I Don’t Want to Get Published!

Posted by Kevin on April 12, 2006

Okay, that subject line is a big, fat lie. Of course I want to get published — what aspiring writer doesn't? But I'm not thinking about it. In fact, the reason I feel more confident about finishing this novel than any of my earlier false starts is that I've already decided it's not going to get published. Maybe I'm wrong and it'll get an agent and a publisher and a high Amazon ranking — but I'm assuming it won't. In fact, even thinking about it at this point is verboten.

Of course, reading what some of the established writers say about their careers as authors — such as JA Konrath on the economics of writing genre, or PJ Parrish on the realities of the writing life — is enough to make anyone wonder why this is a worthwhile endeavor in the first place.

But you know what? I don't care. I want to write a mystery. I want to listen to my printer spit out hundreds of pages of finished first draft. I want to go back and rewrite them. I want to plot out my second novel. I don't know why, dammit. I wish I could wax eloquent about the joys of creation or the thrill of watching a scene unfold or any number of other things. But I can't. I just know I want to write a book. I always have.

Beyond that — the publishing side of it — I'll worry about when I get there. I pledge: I won't read any more articles on how to find an agent until I actually have something worth showing one.

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