Hot girl meets rich boy, boy proposes to girl, and there is a HEA. Wait a minute; we’re not romance writers. Our ending’s more likely to be: girl makes sure boy meets with unfortunate demise, girl inherits, and lives HEA.
In crime writing, there’s usually a motive for killing someone. And all too often, that motive is money. Ever wonder how the laws of inheritance work? How about someone who kills a rich, elderly aunt to inherit her fortune. What if the inheritor is caught? Do they automatically lose the money? Do laws vary by state?
Join Buckeye Crime Writers for an interactive Zoom session with Larae Schraeder, Schraeder Law, LLC, on Saturday, March 20,, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EST as she touches on what happened in a few high-profile cases, talks through some of the gradations of guilty and the impact that has on inheritance, helps you with your questions, and explains some things that we as writers should be thinking about in our own plans.
Who is Larae Schraeder? Larae earned her Juris Doctor summa cum laude from Capital Law School while working full time at a Fortune 100 company. Larae served as Editor in Chief of the Capital University Law Review, as an extern for two federal judges, and as a law clerk at legal clinics for low-income clients. Larae earned the American Legal Institute Scholarship and Leadership Award and became the inaugural recipient of the Excellence in Pro Bono Service Award for helping others.
Larae is a member of the American Bar Association, the Columbus Bar, and the Ohio State Bar Association’s Estate Planning and Elder Law groups.
Before becoming licensed to practice law in Ohio, Larae graduated from Kenyon College magna cum laude and was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. For over 20 years, Larae has proudly served in various capacities as a Kenyon volunteer, including roles as president of the Alumni Council and the Board of Trustees. Larae is a ninth-generation Ohioan, an avid genealogist, and a (self-proclaimed) mediocre cyclist. Larae lives in Columbus with her husband and two shelter pets. Larae’s website is https://www.schraederlawllc.com/.
I met Bruce Coffin for the first time at Malice Domestic in 2016 after his first Detective John Byron crime novel, Among the Shadows, was released. To tell the truth, I was a bit awe-struck, especially with his background as a detective sergeant focusing on homicide and violent crime. He was (and still is) the real deal. Since then he’s gone on to publish three more books in the series to critical acclaim. The latest, Within Plain Sight, has been called “witty,” “exceptional,” with “flawless prose” and a plot that “will keep you guessing until the final bullet-riddled revelation.” Bruce was kind enough to answer a few questions about his journey from police officer to award-winning crime novelist.
Bruce, how did that happen, and how did you learn your craft?
Thank you so much, Connie! The truth is I was a novelist in waiting who spent nearly three decades as a police officer. Long story short, following a less than inspirational experience in a college writing class, I made the decision to follow in my uncle’s law enforcement footsteps. As the years passed, I honestly believed I would never return to writing. In 2012 my passion for writing returned in part because my wife gifted me with an iPad. I was like a kid with a new toy. The iPad was like a portable typewriter. Better still, I could type without need of correction tape or Whiteout. After that it didn’t take long before I was creating and spending time with my imaginary friends again.
How long did it take you to write that first novel? And since we share an agent, Paula Munier of Talcott Notch, how long did it take to sell the series?
Bestselling spy novelist Gayle Lynds once said to me, “One day they’ll call you an overnight success, but you and I will know how many years that really takes.” I spent two and a half years writing a drawer novel titled DEATH WATCH. Honestly, it was terrible. But I learned so much from writing that bad novel. And I used that knowledge to write another, THE REAPING. On the strength of that second novel, Paula Munier offered to represent me. I signed an agreement with Talcott Notch in November of 2015. By December we had interest from two major houses, and in February 2016 we agreed on a three-book deal with HarperCollins. THE REAPING became AMONG THE SHADOWS and was released in September 2016 as the first in the Detective Byron mystery series. In truth, my overnight success took more than four and a half years, two novel-length manuscripts, more rewrites than I can count, great advice from fellow authors, and a fabulous literary agent, to achieve.
I can identify! Except I refused to let that first terrible novel go and finally wrestled it into something I could sell. I’m interested in your police background. Most crime writers don’t have your experience. How much of you and your experiences end up on the pages of your novels?
There is no question that my experiences greatly inform my writing. As a crime fiction author I couldn’t have picked a better prior career. And not just the procedural aspect. I draw heavily on all of my experiences. From human interactions, stressful situations, life, death, and everything in between. During my career I felt as though I had given up writing to do something else. I now realize that what I was actually doing was research. Some folks take the road less traveled. I opted for the long way home, and it has made all the difference.
What advice do you have for aspiring crime writers in today’s publishing world?
Publishing is a tough business. The landscape is forever changing. Nobody really knows what will be in demand next year, or even ten years from now. If your only reason for writing is publication, you’re in the wrong business. Publication can certainly be a goal, but it shouldn’t be the reason. I write is because I love doing it. Telling stories and playing make-believe inside my own head is such a cool concept. My stories provide me with an escape from real world troubles. Hopefully — if I’ve done my job well — they’ll provide that same escape for all who read them. Never give up or lose sight of your goal, but remember to enjoy the act of writing, and enjoy the journey.
That’s wonderful advice. Thank you so much, Bruce, and best of luck in all your future writing.
Bruce Robert Coffin is the award-winning author of the Detective Byron mysteries. A former detective sergeant, he supervised all homicide and violent crime investigations for Maine’s largest city. Following the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, Bruce spent four years investigating counter-terrorism cases for the FBI, earning the Director’s Award, the highest award a non-agent can receive. His short fiction appears in a number of anthologies, including Best American Mystery Stories 2016. You can find him at www.brucerobertcoffin.com.
February. Valentine’s month. The time of year for love and demonstrable affection, traditionally in the form of candy and flowers (or with our group, poisons and red herrings). And because we both love our members and want to demonstrate our affection, we thought this would be the perfect time for an active shooter class with the Columbus Police Department!
Unfortunately, active shooter classes are a thing now. Many workplaces have them so employees will know what to do if someone shows up with both a weapon and intent. And for authors of mysteries, thrillers, police procedurals, cozies, etc., this is doubly important. We want this information not just for our own safety and understanding, but also for our writing. Detail is key, and we need to know what’s realistic and what isn’t. If your protagonist is being hunted by someone, suddenly empowering them with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills and SEAL tactical knowledge isn’t really realistic and may turn off a reader. What are typical motives for active shooters? Is there a preferred weapon type? Do they wear body armor? And how does a potential victim without years of training stay one step ahead? Do they hide? What’s the best way to fight back?
To find out, join us Saturday, 2/20/21, from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., for a Zoom presentation with Columbus Police officer Rick Hannah, who will provide a PowerPoint presentation on active shooter information, then lead a discussion on what the entertainment industry often gets right and wrong in movies, television shows and the rest. Attendees are encouraged to bring questions; please contact us at email@example.com for a Zoom link. And please note: this will be a member-only event for BCW and chapters with the national Sisters In Crime organization. If you wish to be a member, please contact us via gmail . . . we’d love to have you! And as always, keep writing.
One of the great things about belonging to an organization like Sisters (and Misters) in Crime is the opportunity to learn from others. When I was an aspiring author, what I wanted most was advice from someone who knew what they were talking about. So I started a series on my (now defunct) blog entitled, “What I Wish I’d Known.” I asked every mystery writer I’d ever met at conferences to answer that question — “What is the one most important thing you wish you’d known starting out?” Some actually answered me.
We all need encouragement. We all need mentors, people who have gone where we want to go and are willing to shed light on the path for those coming behind. All this year, Buckeye Crime Writers will be featuring nationally known and award-winning authors who are willing to share their history and experiences in the big, scary world of publishing.
In February I have the privilege of interviewing best-selling author and former detective sergeant Bruce Robert Coffin, whose police procedurals starring Detective John Byron, have been called “authentic…gripping…unforgettable.” In March we’ll hear from multiple award-winning cozy author Ellen Byron, and in April from the outstanding author of historical mysteries Edith Maxwell. And that’s just for starters.
Do you need encouragement? We’ve got it! Log on every month this year.
Writers need readers! You can write a wonderful book, but if no one knows it’s out there and if no one buys it, what have you gained?
Join us via Zoom on Jan, 16, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., as author and national award-winning former publicist Sandra Beckwith teaches us how to save thousands of dollars by doing our own publicity, promotion, and marketing. You might have seen Sandra on “The Montel Williams Show,” or “CBS This Morning,” or read about her in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, or USA Today. Feedspot has ranked her Build Book Buzz website as # 7 among thousands of book marketing blogs globally. It has also been honored as a top website for authors and writers six times.
This is your opportunity to listen and ask questions. To get your link to the Zoom presentation, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope to see you (virtually) there!
Cleveland author Shelley Costa started out like many of us, with the world of Nancy Drew, where even clocks have secrets. As a child, growing up in Garwood, New Jersey, Shelley spent time reading, writing in her room, and hanging out at rehearsals at her parents’ little theater group.
After graduating from Rutgers, she took a job at Holt, Rinehart and Winston in New York City, where she ended up in the Adult Trade Division. From there, she moved on to graduate school and a PhD in English from Case Western Reserve University, with a dissertation on the nature of suspense. And along the way, she started writing mysteries. When she is not writing her novels, she teaches creative writing at the Cleveland Institute of Art.
An Edgar nominee for Best Short Story, Shelley is the author of You Cannoli Die Once (Agatha Award nominee for Best First Novel) and Basil Instinct, both part of her Italian Restaurant Series. Practical Sins for Cold Climates is the first book in her new Val Cameron mystery series. The second book in the series is entitled A Killer’s Guide to Good Works. Shelley’s mystery stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Blood on Their Hands, TheWorld’s Finest Mystery and Crime Stories, and Crimewave (UK). She has also written The EverythingGuide to Edgar Allan Poe.
On her website, Shelley says that anything she wants to read or write comes down to three words: Good Person Struggling. With institutions that don’t make sense. With relationships that strip the heart bare. With wickedness we can never quite believe exists. What she likes about traditional mysteries is their cockeyed belief in our ability as intrepid amateurs to solve crimes. Murder becomes our business.
If you’re looking for a dictionary definition of “prolific author,” look no further than USA Today best-selling author Amanda Flower. Like many writers, Amanda has been weaving tales since she was a child, but she recently celebrated ten years as a published author.
Books have always been a major part of Amanda’s life. She began her career as a college librarian. Now she writes full time—and no wonder. Since her very first book was hit the shelves, Amanda has published no fewer than thirty-seven cozy mysteries (do the math!) in a number of series with several publishers. In 2015, Amanda won an Agatha Award for Best Children’s/YA novel with Andi Unstoppable, the third in the Andi Boggs series. Her books are known for their humor, quirky characters, and down-to-earth settings, many of which are taken from Amanda’s own life and experience with the Ohio Amish community.
Her most recent books include Courting Can Be Killer (from An Amish Matchmaker series); Candy Cane Crime (from the Amish Candy Shop mysteries); and Dead-End Detective (the Piper & Porter Mysteries). Coming in 2021 is Farm to Trouble, the first in the Farm to Table Mysteries.
Amanda got married this past October. Currently she and her husband are building a house on their farm. They have two cats, Cheeps and Tummy. In her spare time, Amanda loves to make beaded jewelry, which she sells in her Etsy shop.
Links to everything can be found on her website: www.amandaflower.com, where you can find more about Amanda and her books and sign up for her newsletter.
Julie Anne Lindsey is an award-winning and bestselling author of mystery and romantic suspense. She’s published more than 30 novels since her debut in 2013 and currently writes series as herself, as well as under multiple pen names, for Harlequin, Kensington, Sourcebooks and Crooked Lane Books.
When she’s not writing the stories that keep her up at night, Julie stays busy in Ohio with her husband and three amazing kids. When she’s not throwing epic birthday parties for one of her kids or capturing cute snaps of her cats, she manages to write. To date, she has three series that readers can’t get enough of – The Cider Shop series (set in her beloved home state of West Virginia), the Fortress Defense series (part of Harlequin Intrigue), and the Christmas Tree Farm series (written under the pen name of Jacqueline Frost).
Today she hopes to make someone smile. One day she plans to change the world. Julie is represented by Jill Marsal at the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency and is a member of the International Thriller Writers, Sisters in Crime and Romance Writers of America. Learn more about Julie at julieannelindsey.com.
If you are fascinated by multiple personalities and the pen names to go with them, Cleveland author, Casey Daniels, is right up your alley. Casey aka Kylie Logan, Miranda Bliss, Zoe Daniels, Constance Laux, Connie Deka, Connie Lane, and Connie Laux has written numerous romance novels and cozy mysteries. Casey was once lucky enough to interview mystery great Elizabeth Peters for an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Elizabeth wrote her novels under more than one name too, and she described the experience this way: “If you’re only one person, you’re boring.”
Casey is anything but boring. When she came to one of our meetings and spoke about using tarot cards to plot a mystery novel, she was Casey. When we ran into her at the Ohioana Book Festival, she was Kylie. As Casey Daniels, she has written the Pepper Martin Mystery series which features a cemetery tour guide as the protagonist and includes ten novels, the most recent of which, Graveyard Shift, was released in July 2020. As Kylie Logan, she has written five League of Literary Ladies Mysteries, three Chili Cook-Off Mysteries, four Button Box Mysteries, and an Ethnic Eats Mystery.
So, who is Casey, aka Kylie, aka Miranda, aka Connie, etc. anyway? She’s a fulltime writer who has loved mysteries since she was a kid. Her dad was a Cleveland Police detective, and he introduced her to the Sherlock Holmes stories. He also gave Casey her first investigating experiences when on his days off, they would pile into the car and hit the streets to look for stolen cars. Later, she read her way through every mystery story she could get her hands on.
Agatha Christie and Conan Doyle are still among her favorites.
Casey has a degree in English and experience as a journalist and writing teacher. When she’s not writing, she’s usually with her family and their two dogs, Ernie, an adorable Airedale pup, and Oscar, a rescued Jack Russell who spends far too much time watching TV. She enjoys knitting, gardening and stomping through cemeteries in search of history, stories and inspiration.
Connie Berry initially dreamed of becoming an archaeologist, but that ended when she learned there was more to it than discovering the tombs of lost pharaohs. Deciding to write about history rather than uncover it, she created the Kate Hamilton Mystery series, set in the UK and featuring an American antiques dealer with a gift for solving crimes. Two books in the well-received series have been published, A Dream of Death and A Legacy of Murder. The third book in the series, The Art of Betrayal, is scheduled for release in June 2021.
Like her protagonist, Connie was raised by charmingly eccentric antiques collectors who opened a shop, not to sell antiques but to give them an excuse to keep buying them. Besides reading mysteries and writing them, Connie loves foreign travel, cute animals, and all things British. She lives in central Ohio with her husband and adorable dog, Emmie.
Connie’s passion for all things British came naturally. Her paternal grandparents were born in Scotland, so she grew up with the accents, tastes, and tales of the “auld country” in her ears, mouth, and heart. To her, the best thing about the British Isles is the richness and depth of history — the past. She’s a history junkie, which means the older the better. Everywhere you go in the British Isles, history lives and breathes.
Connie is especially interested in the complex dynamics of villages. She believes that may stem from her early exposure to Agatha Christie, but she likes nothing better than writing about a small community with plenty of interconnections and conflicts to create havoc — and murder.
In addition to writing the Kate Hamilton series, Connie’s been writing articles on the craft of writing for several trade publications, including the Sisters in Crime Quarterly and the Mystery Writers of America newsletter.
Connie has degrees in English from DePauw University and The Ohio State University. She also studied at the University of Freiburg in southern Germany and St. Clare’s College in Oxford, England. Connie is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, is on the board of her local SinC chapter, Buckeye Crime Writers, and is on the Steering Committee for the SinC Guppies chapter.