Mystery/crime writer Kait Carson weaves DECEPTION today at #MotiveMeansOpportunity !


A blog I contribute to recently used deception for its October theme. What better topic for October? The month of trick…or treat.untitled-design-1

Which will it be? A trick or a treat? Writers specialize in sleight of hand. Mystery writers in particular. We plant clues in plain sight. Playing fair is part of the canon of mystery-writing. We give the readers all the tools to solve the mystery, but we don’t paint them neon orange. Even if it is Halloween.

How do we do it? Sometimes better than others.

In a perfect book, all the clues are carefully laid out. Often beginning on page one. Gotta watch those writers, they’re a tricky bunch. But the clues are disguised as ordinary dialogue, or mixed into a list of items too commonplace to stand out. The clue has been dropped, a few pages later, the red herring usually follows. Red herrings are clues…

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My Rocky Journey to Publication

Don’t miss Christina Hoag’s rocky journey to publication at #MotiveMeansOpportunity


by Christina Hoag

I was incredibly excited when I landed my first offer of representation from a literary agent for what was then my novel “Skin of Tattoos,” a literary thriller set in the gang underworld of L.A. I’d sent out about 90 queries, had received a few requests for pages but no bites and I was starting to despair.skinoftattooscover

Then I got the call. During our conversation, the agent said, “I don’t really like agenting. I’m just, sort of, doing this.” It struck me as odd, but I couldn’t turn her down. What if I didn’t get another offer?

I signed and we met. During the conversation, she told me that a publisher had agreed to take one of her books but had never followed through with the contract. Again, it didn’t paint her in the best light, but I figured that could happen to any agent.

Several months…

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Conventions Exist for Good Reason

Don’t miss mystery writer Ellen Behern’s post at #MotiveMeansOpportunity !


By Ellen Behrens

Ever read a book but run into spots where you scratch your head, then flip back a few pages, thinking you missed something? Me, too. I recently picked up a nearly 500-page paperback novel set in South Dakota. I like reading books set where my husband and I have traveled, and I was looking forward to a rare Black Hills novel. Alas, I nearly gave up on page 5.

The author had me with an intriguing opening line: “Didja ever notice old folks’ homes smell exactly like funeral homes?” Hmm. Never thought of that. The narrative voice sounded sassy and honest, and I liked that.

I overlooked being introduced to the main characters by their first names only, assuming the author had a good reason to break with the convention of using full names.


Then, on page 5, I bumped into a reference to another character, this…

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What We (Really) Found

DO NOT MISS suspense writer Kris Bock’s post today at #MotiveMeansOpportunity !


By Kris Bock

Many writers are inspired by real events or people in their lives. This makes difficult situations a form of research. “This stinks, but maybe I can use it in a book!” I write romantic suspense for adults as Kris Bock and middle grade novels (for ages 9 to 12) as Chris Eboch. In most of these books, the connection to real life experiences isn’t obvious.

But one of my adult titles, What We Found, was inspired by a true case of murder.what-we-found

Two friends and I were exploring the mountains, looking for some suitable gravel to try gold panning (because, why not?). We found a likely spot and were about to take a sample when the guys smelled something horrible. A glance in the right direction showed them a dead body hidden just out of sight of the path.

The next hour passed in a surreal…

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Keep the Mystery in your Fiction!

Keys to Writing an Effective Book Blurb, by mystery writer Glenna Mageau, @ #MotiveMeansOpportunity


By Glenna Mageau (Writing as Maggie Thom)

now-that-you-have-the-readers-attentionYou’ve finished writing your novel and now you find yourself with the prospect of having to write a catching back cover blurb that will hook the potential reader and draw her/him in. Unfortunately, writing this brief but vital info seems to be a mystery for many authors. What to include? What to leave out? Where to begin? How to make it interesting?

It’s no wonder this task so daunting. You’ve just written 60,000 words, or 82,454, words or 102,383 words, and now you want to give a glimpse inside the meat of your story in only 200 words? The thing is though, for an author 200 words is really not that difficult a task to write. Where the problem comes in, is that authors of fiction tend to look at writing the book blurb as a summary, as a “this-then-that” kind of article, when really it’s not.

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Bullies & Bullying

Thought for today:

Dear bullies, see that boy you made fun of for reading a book? Last night his best friend committed suicide. See that girl you called fat? She’s starving herself. See that old man you made fun of because of his ugly scars? He fought for our country. Those scars are a sign of the freedoms you enjoy. Get a life, bully!

Bullying is weakness & cowardice. Don’t allow them to intimidate you. Stand up to them and YOU WILL WIN!double-rainbow-over-kauai_hawaii-1000x663

cj Sez: Your autumn wardrobe must-have: Tall leather boots from . . .

NaNoWriMo—November, the National Novel Writing Month;


By: CJ Petterson

Oops. Wrong headline, and yes, here I am, in a state of flux. Caught somewhere between the beginning of fall (the autumn equinox occurred Sept. 22) and the end of daylight savings time (if you’re on it, it ends Nov. 6 at 2 a.m.). On a downward slide to the end of the year. Think about it. Right now, many stores have displays up for the generic harvest time and fall colors as well as for every single one of the upcoming holidays. So Happy HalloThanksHannukMasKwanzYear!cr-carter-more-friendsbundle-cvr

Now, if you’re a writer who likes a challenge, here’s another event to anticipate and celebrate: The beginning of NaNoWriMo—November, the National Novel Writing Month; the month where authors challenge themselves to write fifty thousand words in one month, that’s 50,000 (it looks bigger in numbers). Let’s see, “30 days hath September, April, June, and November.” That means you’ll have to…

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Author Connie Cockrell releases Troubled Streets, a Sci-Fi Mystery/Thriller!


First, I want to thank Michael Helms and Motive Means Opportunity for the invitation to post here. Isn’t it lovely when you’re invited somewhere? Michael was kind enough to notice I’d just published a new book, Troubled Streets, and offered up this blog to talk about it. It was too good an offer to pass up.


Where did the story for Troubled Streets come from? It was prompted by one of those on-line memes I see go around every once in awhile. We’ve all seen them, rants about why honest, hard-working, taxpayers should pay for food, shelter, medical support of drug users, criminals, you get the picture. Anyway, I’ve seen these rants for years but this particular day it got me thinking: What would a society that decides they aren’t going to support their “undesirables” look like?


I could have set the story anywhere, modern day, a fantasy location, but…

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A very poignant, personal essay by Flemish author Bob Van Laerhoven today at #MotiveMeansOpportunity


By: Bob Van Laerhoven

Picture this, a lonely and vaguely melancholic, 17 year old boy in 1970, living in a smallbaudelairesrevenge_cvr Flemish/Belgian village, surrounded by pine woods, at the border with The Netherlands.

Later in his life, that boy will learn the hard way that border places are often rough and dangerous places, woods or no woods.

But now, he’s searching for something that will appease a shapeless longing in him.  His parents,  poor and hard working people,  wish that he’ll become a postman.  Regular job, steady income, smooth life.

Healthy too: each day biking many miles in the flatlands of De Kempen, that Flemish region of small farmers and workers in Antwerp’s harbor, distributing  letters, written in the gnarly handwriting  of simple people.

Life is tough. Don’t go out late. Don’t catch a cold. Don’t drink. Work hard. Build a house. Be normal.

That’s what simple people say to…

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Space/Time Continuum

Welcome to the Twilight Zone . . . or mystery writer Kait Carson’s space/time continuum at #MotiveMeansOpportunity!


space-time-continuumWay back when in the stone age, before YouTube or even MTV, there was a TV show named The Twilight Zone. It was hosted by Rod Serling who had one of those fantastic announcer’s voices that made you see his words. That was the first time I heard the phrase space/time continuum. I didn’t understand it until I became a writer.

Because we write on deadlines, our backs are always to the wall. Add in day jobs, family commitments, general life, and it becomes apparent that twenty-four hours in a day are simply not enough. Honestly, neither are thirty-six maybe seventy-two would be adequate. Every writer handles the time drain differently. Some carry notebooks or keyboards to all of their appointments. Using the waiting time to outline, write, polish, draw characterizations, study people and take notes (makes ‘em nervous I can tell you). Others set aside a sacred writing time…

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