Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Three Rs Revisited for Writers

Reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic – the "Three Rs" of our school days. I’ve been thinking that we need a new version for writers: Research, (W)riting, and Revision. And since most of us had our favorite subjects in school and others we weren’t so crazy about, I will confess that I have favorites and not-so-favorites among the writerly three. And the writing part of writing is not my favorite part, odd though that may seem. For now, let’s take a quick look at these three parts of the big picture.

Writing. That’s the big "W," er, "R" in the Writer’s Life, no? No. Okay, yes and no. At least that’s the case for me. I don’t like writing all that much most of the time. Writing is hard. Writing is messy and often ugly and sometimes takes up hours for meager results. It’s frustrating. And then every so often something happens, a miracle of sorts. A path opens through the brambles and words dance along the path and ideas blossom on the edge and.... Sorry, I was starting to have some fun there, dancing along with those unedited words and phrases.

Which is where the second R comes into play. At least I think it’s play. I hear students and even some aspiring writers say they hate revising but it’s my almost-favorite-part of being a writer. The revision phase is when I get to move things around, and clean things up. Add a little here, subtract a little there. Oh wait, that’s one of those old-fashioned Rs. (Or maybe everything really is interconnected!) When I have a book or article or poem or essay in the works, I’m always happy to get past the initial writing so that I can begin to revise, a process that actually includes a lot of writing. And re-revising. And so on.

My favorite part of writing might be said not to me writing at all. It’s the research. I adore the research, and luckily for me, there’s always something to look up. Right now I’m wrapping up the sequel to Drop Dead on Recall, and just in the past hour I had to look up what kind of garter snake might be gliding along a path between a river and a corn field in Indiana, and what kinds of prices are paid for critically endangered parrots smuggled into the U.S. The down side of research is that I always wander away from the main subject. (Did you know garter snake saliva is actually toxic, but for humans, not so much?) The plus side of research is that I always wander away from the main subject and learn something new and fascinating. (Did you know garter snake saliva is actually toxic, but for humans, not so much? A writer never knows when that might come in handy!) One of my favorite books on writing has long been William Zinsser’s Writing to Learn, no doubt because that has always been why I write. Many writers have said "to learn" is why they write, too.

Now, because I have a book to wrap up, I will go learn a little more. Happily, I’m mostly revising now, and researching a few details, and writing a little. Let’s hope it all adds up.

Sheila's first Animals in Focus mystery, Drop Dead on Recall, will be out from Midnight Ink in October. To stay informed, check out updates on Facebook, Twitter, or Sheila's blog.

Monday, August 27, 2012

And Onto Book Two

I turned in Eternally 21, the first in my Mrs. Frugalicious mystery series at the end of May. I got back an editorial letter mid-June and had the edited manuscript back by Mid–August. Last week I even saw a prototype for the cover. Heady stuff—particularly having waited to see my name on a book cover for a solid decade. The mere idea of people, readers who aren’t even related to me, actually buying this story I’ve created is almost too cool to imagine.

That there will be a book two in the series is even harder to imagine, particularly since I find myself once again in a staring match with that familiar foe, the blank page.

So blank.

On the one hand, I have a title I really like: BLACK FRIDAY. I have what I think is a solid premise-- a suspicious death during the midnight sales madness. I have some returning characters from the first book and some new and potentially interesting supporting characters joining Mrs. Frugalicious for the murder, mayhem and bargain shopping.

On the other, I have a lot of blank pages before me.

For research, or, more likely, procrastination purposes, I Googled Writing Series Fiction, to see what I’ve got on the new book relative to what the experts our there in Internet land say I need. Here are some of the things I found that are making me feel either confident about what I have going, or making me realize how much work I have ahead:

1.Books in a series should be both dependent and independent, so be sure that your stories interconnect but can stand alone.
2. Consider high points and climaxes. Will the climax of each book have it’s own flavor? How are they related and how are they different? 
2. Make sure you know your timeline for each book and the series as a whole.
3. Don't assume the reader has read your previous book. Often, readers don’t start from the beginning of a series, so sprinkle in enough back story to keep them from being confused about characters, settings, and relationships.
4. Don't assume a reader who has read your previous book will remember everything.  Details from the last book need to be added in for the sake of new readers and to help jog the memory of fans of your previous books.
5. Make sure your lead as well as secondary characters have interesting enough stories, careers, personal quirks etc., to compel readers to follow them through an entire series.
6. Know the back story on all of your characters. Even if you don’t tell the reader, you need to know who your characters are and where they’ve come from.
7. Plant clues for future stories. Not only do you need to plant clues, you need to explain mysteries from earlier books and deepen mysteries across the series.
8. Make sure each book has a plot of its own. Certainly the overarching story and specific elements need to carry over, but the entire series shouldn't have one long plot.
9. Consider the end of the series from the very beginning.
10. Fulfill the promises you make to the reader from the first book in your series to the last.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Crazy like a...Writer

by Shannon Baker

There’s a chance I might not be crazy. The evidence, however, suggests otherwise.

Most of the time I can compartmentalize the worst of the fruitcake behavior and hopefully people don’t know how nuts I am.  I’ve learned to anticipate and warn those around me when an outbreak of lunacy is likely. It’s sort of like a good-hearted werewolf who  locks himself up on a full moon.

For instance, when I send a manuscript out for review I can turn off the anxiety for a time. But I know when that manuscript is returned there will be fallout. It’s predicable and The Man With Infinite Tolerance knows the drill.

There is a deep inhalation in preparation. As I read the comments I burn with embarrassment that I could be that stupid. How could I have sent this off when I know better than to make those kinds of mistakes? Then despair sinks in.  This manuscript cannot be salvaged. Repair is impossible. My deadline looms and I have to create a completely different story.  I’m doomed.

This stage lasts exactly two days.

On the third day I start to understand how to change the plot to make it better. I get a clear idea where to cut, where to add and how to make that device work. The literary worm turns and I get excited because when I make these changes, this book is going to be brilliant!

For the next two to three weeks I am possessed, obsessed and whatever other ‘ssed writers get when they go so deeply into their story the only time they surface is to 1) eat and 2) go to that pesky day job that supports this bat-shit habit.  The MWIT knows the only conversation I’m capable of is raving about the new insight into my character. He knows my checkbook will not get balanced and I’ll survive on pickles and saltines before going to the grocery store.  I have plenty of underwear to last this manic phase so laundry is up to him.

And then it’s done. You’d think I’d feel relief. Elation! Pride of accomplishment.

Maybe I would… if I weren’t crackers.

Instead, I have Manuscript Withdrawl. After having made all those changes I knew would make the story sing, I’m convinced I’ve failed. It’s drivel and my editor will reject it and I’ll end up in the gutter, my roots will grow out gray, and I’ll have chronic halitosis.
This was the deranged state I hit on Saturday, as I knew I would. I finished my major plot revisions and I texted MWIT, “I hate this. We need a new lamp. Going shopping.”  Later, when I showed him the lamp, he seemed surprised I’d finished the manuscript. He thought I was still working and was referencing our running joke about the movie, “The Jerk,” where Steve Martin leaves his wife and all he needs is the Thermos… and the lamp… and the chair. Silly MWIT thought if I’d finished the manuscript I’d be happy, not escaping the house with all those sharp objects.

Two days later I feel more stable and, well, hopeful. I’ve got some great ideas for the next scrub and polish and have confidence I’ll hit my deadline.   

I’ve heard it said that if you think you’re crazy, you’re not.  In my case, I don’t think there’s much doubt.

 Okay, time to ‘fess up. What kind of crazy are you?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Editing a Manuscript -- and a Body

 By Beth Groundwater

This month I'm in the throes of trying to reshape two things: the manuscript for my third RM Outdoor Adventures mystery titled Fatal Descent and ... my body. I've noticed some interesting parallels between the two efforts, and I'm wondering if I can apply any of the techniques I'm using for one effort to the other. Also, I'm looking for advice, especially for the body editing effort! The manuscript is shaping up much better that the old bod is.

Trimming the Fat

For my body, I'm cutting out most sweets, sodas, alcohol, and fatty foods and eating lots and lots of fresh organic fruits and vegetables to replace those foods. I'm trying to whittle away the gradual weight gain I experienced over the past few years that has added an expanded tummy I don't need and a pair of thick thighs to go with it. I want to get back into my "skinny me" clothes!

I'm also trying to carve away the fat in my manuscript--the long, overblown descriptions that bore the reader, the excessive whitewater rafting terminology that may confuse the reader, the thoughts that repeat what is already said better in dialogue, gestures, or facial expressions, and so on. The goal is to make the book skinny (lean and mean), so that it contains just what it needs to tell an engaging story and no more.

Adding Muscle

For my manuscript, this means making sure there's sufficient conflict and emotion on the page to provide a meaty and satisfying experience for the reader. it also means making sure that conflicts and emotions are conveyed clearly. In body building, people talk about how "cut" a person is, meaning how well-defined the lines that outline their muscles appear when striking various poses. To have a lean, cut physique, you must have fully developed muscles and minimal fat that softens and hides the shapes of those muscles. Similarly, in my manuscript, I want large, muscular conflict, but if it's hidden in the fat of verbosity, then it's harder for a reader to see and feel that conflict and those strong emotions.

For my body, I'm working on weight-lifting and outdoor exercises such as hiking and biking to build up my muscle volume while at the same time I'm hopefully reducing the fat volume. I want to be stronger, to be able to hike or bike farther and longer and to be able to lift and move with less pain and more agility. I want to be efficient and effective in my movements and to improve my balance. In neither my own body or the manuscript do I want to overly bulk out. I want a natural look--and read--that's pleasing to the eye and is strong enough to get the work done, be it gardening for me or making the reader turn the page for the manuscript.

Increasing Fitness

For my body, this means working on those numbers: keeping blood pressure down, HDL (the good cholesterol) up, and LDL (the bad cholesterol) down. It means avoiding the need to take medications to maintain those numbers. Nutrition, exercise, and stress reduction are all tools for maintaining a healthy body that feels good and goes the distance.

Similarly, I want my manuscript to go the distance, to engage the reader all the way to those two words "The End" and for the reader to come away from the book reading experience feeling good--and satisfied. The numbers to watch here are characters, clues, red herrings, plot twists, etc. I need to have the right amount of each.

Small, Incremental Changes Lead to Big Results

Both of the processes of editing a manuscript and editing a body entail making a small number of tiny changes per day over many, many days to create a meaningful change. They're both tedious processes that can be draining and demotivating--especially when the pounds still aren't coming off or the fight scene is still ponderous. I  try to set small, achievable goals for both. When I achieve one, I can celebrate. When I don't, I try to shake it off and try again the next week.

So, readers, what dieting and editing advice do you have for me? How can I add muscle, cut the fat, and increase the fitness of both my body and the manuscript for Fatal Descent?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

INKSPOT NEWS - August 18, 2012

Sale! Sale! Sale! Great news! Amazon has put the Kindle version of many Midnight Ink mystery books on sale from August 11 - 23 as part of its "August Big Deal" promotion. Move fast to take advantage of this special promotion, and please spread the word to all of your mystery reading friends!

Here are the titles available for a measly $1.99 during August 11 - 23:

C.S. Challinor's Murder of the Bride
Beth Groundwater's Deadly Currents and Wicked Eddies
J. B. Stanley's Stiffs and Swine
Terri Thayer's Old Maid's Puzzle

Here are the titles available for $1.99 only on August 24th, as part of Amazon's "Kindle Happy Anniversary Deal" promotion:

Sue Ann Jaffarian's Ghost in the Polka Dot Bikini
Karen MacInerney's Dead and Berried
G. M. Malliet's Death and the Chick Lit
Lynn Sholes and Joe Moore's The Grail Conspiracy and The Phoenix Apostles

Also, on Saturday, August 25, 2012, from 9 AM – 4:30 PM, Midnight Ink author Beth Groundwater will present an “Engineering a Mystery and The Art of Dialogue Writing” Workshop at the Chaffee County Writers Exchange in the Meeting Room of the Sangre de Cristo Electric Association, 29780 US Highway 24, Buena Vista, CO 81211. There's still time to sign up to attend! Beth will sell and sign copies of her books after the workshop ends.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


by Lois Winston

As those of you who read my post last month know, in addition to writing the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries for Midnight Ink, I've recently embarked on an indie publishing career, making available as ebooks some of my older romances and romantic suspense books under the pen name Emma Carlyle. My backlist will also be available shortly.

I'm lucky that I have a design background and a son who knows just about all there is to know when it comes to designing on the computer. Scott is an animator and does post-production work for TV and the movies. My skills were learned way before PhotoShop, Quark, Publisher and all those other programs were a glimmer in some geek's eye. They were honed back in the prehistoric age when we actually had to spec type the old-fashion way -- using {{shudder}} math formulas!

So what's this got to do with why I'm grateful I'm not a surgeon? I'm getting to that.

For the indie books and my backlist I need cover art. I've been coming up with the concepts and finding the perfect artwork and photos to incorporate. Scott has provided the technical skill to execute the covers. I've been very pleased with the way the covers have turned out.

However, some of the covers need to have Lois Winston as the author and others, Emma Carlyle. A couple of weeks ago Scott created the perfect cover for Lost in Manhattan, a romantic suspense where the heroine is suffering from amnesia after being hit by a taxi. I spent days searching through royalty free photo databases because I had a very specific image in mind. I needed a photo of a red-headed young woman with a French braid. I finally found the photo. Scott took a shot of the Manhattan skyline and merged the two images. The cover is exactly what I'd envisioned.

I spent a lot of time looking at that cover. I had to resize it for the various ebook platforms where I was uploading the book. I had to add it to my website. I pinned it on Pinterest. Copies started selling on Amazon and other places.

Then one night after the book had been available for several days and sold about a dozen copies, I received an email from Scott just as I was about to power down my computer for the night and go to bed. He had noticed that he put the wrong author name on the cover!

I couldn't believe it! I must have looked at that cover a hundred times and never noticed that Lois Winston is listed as the author and not Emma Carlyle! I'm trained as an artist. I'm supposed to have a critical eye when it comes to visual elements. I'm not supposed to miss something so blatantly wrong as this.

So I quickly uploaded a revised cover and waited several days for the various sites to refresh the image. Of course, during that time, the book kept selling with the wrong cover. I'm now waiting for the nasty reviews to arrive. Then again, maybe like me, no one will notice.

And that brings me to why I'm glad I'm not a surgeon. I screwed up because I was rushing and not paying as close attention as I should have. But my screw-up, in the greater scheme of things, is a pretty benign screw-up. No one got hurt. It may have been a devastating error for me, but in hindsight I can slap my head and laugh about it.

But it got me thinking about how a mistake made by someone else can have all sorts of horrible consequences for other, innocent people. At least I didn't leave a medical instrument inside a patient, and for that reason, I'm very grateful I'm not a surgeon.

And speaking of surgeons, this is the perfect segue into a topic near and dear to my heart -- breast cancer research. To celebrate the availability of the five Emma Carlyle books, instead of throwing a champagne and caviar party, I'm making a donation to breast cancer research. And guess what? You can determine how large a check I write. Throughout the month of August, I will donate $500 for every 1,000 Emma Carlyle books sold. You can find blurbs, excerpts and buy links on the Emma Carlyle website.

Lois Winston writes the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series. Visit her at, and visit Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog, Visit Lois's romance writing alter-ego Emma Carlyle at

Monday, August 13, 2012

Happy 113th Birthday Alfred Hitchcock!

by Jennifer Harlow

On Encore Suspense I've been enjoying Thirteen Days of Alfred Hitchcock in honor of his 113th Birthday on the 13th of August, today. Since I'm sure we're all fans of the Master of Suspense, I wanted to honor him as well on this day. So this post will be all about Hitch and what he means to me.

There was a time when my parents finally put their foot down and refused to allow me to watch horror movies, rightly so. I was around age eleven and still kept waking them in the middle of the night to check for monsters or serial killers (In my defense I was living in Central Florida near a swamp, both were very prevalent at the time). I was forbidden to watch anything with either save for the Universal Horror classics like The Bride of Frankenstein and The Mummy as the gore factor was a minimum. As I am me, I became obsessed with them watching the whole cannon. When Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) came around at Universal Studios about ten miles from my house I begged my father to take me so I could meet the monsters. (Please note the same never went for the Disney characters. I lost my shit, screaming like the pre-teen I was when I saw The Wolf Man as if he were Justin Bieber, but walked right by Mickey Mouse. As I said a million times before, I was a weird child.) At HHN Dad took me to the Hitchcock movie magic show, where you could see props from movies, a 3-D The Birds show, and a re-enactment of the shower scene from Psycho with audience participation. There I met Mr. Hitchock and his work. Good-bye monsters, hello Hitch.

As obsessively as my monster phase, so was my Hitchcock phase. Spies, conspiracies, serial killers, evil housekeepers, swarms of birds, I immersed myself in them. It was my first introduction to suspense, mystery, and intrigue using not only story and character but the tone set by use of lighting and camera angle. I learned that shock wasn't the only effective way to unnerve people. The slow burn was just as discomforting. I still always keep in mind his classic example of suspense versus shock. Shock being the main character walks into an office and right away a bomb goes off. Suspense is when the audience is shown the bomb then the characters keep talking, unaware of the bomb as the audience is. The thrill is prolonged with the latter, and in my opinion is better. 

I also loved that evil could be found where you least expected it. On a train, in a motel, across the table from you. The characters rarely went looking for trouble, it always just found them. Nowhere was safe, just as in real life. One day you're sitting in a hotel lobby, the next you're being chased by a plane in a corn field due to a case of mistaken identity. His movies also taught me that a villain could be sympathetic. Mrs. Danvers, Bruno Antony, even Norman Bates, they all had tragic back stories, desires that could never be fulfilled. They were overlooked by society and it drove them a little mad, as we all go sometimes. I try to incorporate all of these factors into my books. There are no absolutes in life, no one is wholy good or bad, but watch out when Mr. Hyde surfaces. You could end up being hacked to death in a shower or have your loved one attacked by the serial killer you've been watching through your window. That is Mr. Hitchcock's legacy, and I am beyond proud to have the ability to make even a tiny contribution to carrying on that legacy.

My Top Five Favorite Hitchcock Films
1. Shadow of a Doubt
2. Psycho
3. Strangers on a Train
4. Vertigo
      5. Notorious      

What about you? Which are your favorite Hitch movies? How have they impacted your writing or reading habits?  

Happy Birthday Hitch!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Fiction in Real Places

by Kathleen Ernst

Is it wise to set a murder mystery in a real place? 

The first book in my Chloe Ellefson series, Old World Murder, is set at a large historic site where I once worked.  I used to be a curator at Old World Wisconsin; Chloe is a curator at Old World Wisconsin.  You know what they say: write what you know.

KAE Schottler Sepia enhanced
Several writers advised me to fictionalize the setting, but I simply couldn’t do it.  I sent the manuscript to a former colleague before publication, and it made the rounds among administrative types.  Happily, they gave it a thumbs-up.

They weren’t just being kind to me.  They were being savvy.  In these difficult financial times, museums and historic sites are looking for new audiences, new ways to let people know just how much they have to offer.  In my case, I think the site staff realized that my books might bring a few new visitors to the site.  Yes, my fictional characters are involved in murder and mayhem.  But the site itself is portrayed—quite accurately—as a gem.

I’ve been delighted to hear from readers who have indeed discovered the site through Old World Murder and book 2, The Heirloom Murders.  I’ve got locations guides for each book posted on my website.  Readers can download them and take a Chloe Tour on their own, seeing each real building or place that appears in the books.

And this year, I worked with Old World Wisconsin staff to create special “History and Mystery” tours, focused on the Chloe Ellefson books.  Participants arrive before-hours for a behind-the-scenes look at locations featured in the novels. 
I take guests into the buildings they read about and discuss the choices I made when writing the books.  I’m able to share some background about the site, providing pertinent context that didn’t quite make it into the novels.  Guests also get to visit areas that are not normally open to the public. 

The curator of research, who has worked at the site since the 1970s, shares little-known stories about identifying, relocating, restoring, and researching each structure.  That’s a rare treat, and I can tell that participants would be happy to listen and ask him questions all day.

The experience ends with a private reception and—of course—a booksigning.  The combination must be appealing, because the first tours have sold out.  One lady on the first tour flew in from New York!  So far we’ve raised $2,000 for Old World Wisconsin.

So is it wise to write about a real place?  For me, the answer is definitely yes.  I think Old World Wisconsin staff would agree.  The site supports and promotes my books; I support and promote the site.

In future books, when Chloe visits other historic sites, I hope to do the same thing.  The Light Keeper’s Legacy, which comes out in October, is largely set in an old lighthouse on an island in Lake Michigan.  A special fund-raising tour there sounds like great fun to me!

For more information, visit

Monday, August 6, 2012

Life is a Highway

By Deborah Sharp

If all goes well, I’ll set off today to drive from Florida to North Carolina to visit my sister. In this season of summer vacations, it’s the perfect time to go. Fort Lauderdale is sweltering. My sister tells me evening temperatures in the mountains drop to the 60s. Pack the jacket! Where I’m from, we call that winter.

I’m leaving with a clear conscience, because I just finished the manuscript for my fifth mystery, MAMA GETS TRASHED. I hope my brain uses the long drive to recharge. There’s nothing like staring at a highway center line for twelve hours to jolt the creative juices. I always have a pen and notepad in my truck’s console, just in case. I might just come up with an idea for the next great American novel at the five-hundred-and-seventh monotonous mile.

Because I spend most of my life in a fog of nostalgia, packing for this trip reminded me of another journey I took, a few years ago. My mother was 90. She wanted to go back home to Illinois one last time. Before we left Florida, I heard her on the phone with the childhood friend she’d arranged to visit. The friend asked if she was nervous about traveling at her age.

“I’m not worried at all,’’ my mom said. “My daughter takes care of everything.’’

Just like my mother did for us.

I was eight the summer my father died. Mom loaded my little brother and me into our family's battered Ford Fairlane. We took a long, meandering road trip between our Florida home and Chicago, where she was born. Driving, grieving, she’d hold her tears until after dark, when she thought we were asleep in the bed she made on the back seat. Lying there, I’d watch the reflections from oncoming headlights. I was terrified those cars would smash into ours, and my mother would die just like my father did. With each rectangle of light that passed over her face, fading harmlessly into the darkness, I breathed more easily.

My father was gone, but I felt a little safer after that summer with my mother behind the wheel.

One of Mon's favorite sayings was always, “One good turn deserves another.’’ So, on her last trip home, I took the driver’s seat. I packed her clothes, and lifted the suitcases. I studied the maps and found the hotels. I was happy to be able to “take care of everything’’ for her on that trip. But most of all, I was grateful that those many summers later, she felt safe with me behind the wheel.

How about you? Does your family take road trips? Do creative ideas pop into your head on long drives? Do you feel happy -- or sad – behind the wheel?

Friday, August 3, 2012

'What If' Launches a New Series

‘What If’ Launches a New Series
By Joanna Campbell Slan

My first “love” will always be Kiki Lowenstein, the spunky single mom who inhabits my mystery series set in St. Louis. In fact, I’m busy writing Book #6 in that series. However, I wanted to write a second series, and I wanted to challenge myself. But where to look for a good idea?

I stumbled on a worthwhile premise after answering a question for a Malice Domestic panel: “What’s your favorite classic mystery?” I knew most readers might mention a work by Agatha Christie or Dorothy L. Sayer or Rex Stout, but my choice was Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. To me, it had all the hallmarks of a great puzzle. Who was bumping around in the attic, and why did Mr. Rochester pretend it was that silly drunkard Grace Poole?

In fact, the more I thought about it, the more loose ends I noticed. Where had Adéle’s mother gone? Adéle seems to think her mother died, but Edward Rochester tells Jane that Adéle was abandoned. Which is it? What happened to Blanche Ingram after she discovered that Edward Rochester had tricked her? That he’d lied about his fortune being so small? What really happened to Jane Eyre’s uncle who died in Madiera? How did he perish? Was it true that her parents both died of natural causes or was that a lie that her evil aunt told her? Where did Bertha Mason’s brother go after she stabbed him? He must have kept tabs on Edward Rochester, otherwise, how could he have sent his solicitor to interrupt Jane and Edward’s wedding? Could Bertha have survived the fire at Thornfield Hall? What was the strange force that drove St. John Rivers to be such a martyr?

Every creative endeavor starts with a powerful question, “What if…?” But if you want to write a series, you must venture beyond those two powerful words and ask, “What happens next?”

So I set out to discover what happened to Jane Eyre at the end of Brontë’s classic. In the last chapter, Jane writes that Adéle was sent to a girls’ school in London, but the environment proved incompatible, and the girl was brought back home. What really happened? What if Adéle was bullied? What if that bully turned murderous? What if Jane was forced to protect her old student? What if Jane plays the role of amateur sleuth, and does it so well, that snooping around becomes a passion for her?

All of a sudden, I couldn’t type fast enough!

And so, Dear Reader, the Jane Eyre’s saga continues with Death of a Schoolgirl (Berkley Trade/August 7), the first book in my new series, The Jane Eyre Chronicles.

I hope you’ll check it out!

Joanna Campbell Slan is the author of the Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series. Her first book—Paper, Scissors, Death—was a finalist for the Agatha Award. Her newest series, The Jane Eyre Chronicles, starts August 7 with the release of Death of a Schoolgirl (Berkley Trade). Visit Joanna at her website.