Keep your characters safe

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 buckeyecrimewriters@gmail.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.

Patrick Stuart, BCW President

Recent events: Sandra Beckwith

UPDATE: You can watch a replay of this meeting here: https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/bGuNb3ufQTuRZUYXxN49skp87T0yXPbqJep17p1hdPSxb4I5od9nDyBEutNxYvCp.djFOykUPJNHmd_7F

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?

Sandra Beckwith

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 buckeyecrimewriters@gmail.com. We hope to see you (virtually) there!

Annual BCW Critique!

It’s here! It’s finally here! The annual BCW writing critique! Now you can submit what you’ve been working on the past several months, trapped in your house or apartment, with nothing but deep thoughts, a mountain of dirty facemasks, empty bottles of hand sanitizer and a laptop. Working on that detective novel? Psychological thriller? Murder mystery? A small, warm cozy where that little old lady next door (the one who grows those delicious tomatoes that win the grand prize each year at the county fair) is discovered fertilizing those same ‘maters with the bodies of her last five husbands buried in her garden plot? Now’s your chance to get that sick puppy in front of some eyeballs for some good old-fashioned input from fellow writers! So here’s the details:

  • Meeting date: 11/21/20 (Saturday), 11:00 – 12:30 p.m. (Zoom meeting).
  • Due date: 11/14/20 (Saturday), midnight.
  • Send manuscripts to buckeyecrimewriters@gmail.com. Note: if you submit, you’ll also need to participate as a reviewer. A Zoom link to the meeting will be provided.
  • What to send: manuscripts should be 10 pages, maximum (if not starting at the beginning, try to provide a few sentences for context). Manuscripts can be from a budding novel, novella, short story, etc.. Since these are partials, please do not send your entire work.
  • Manuscripts: double-spaced, 1” margins, 12 pt. font (no fancy/cursive fonts please). For simplicity, all submissions should be in the form of Word documents (no PDFs . . . otherwise we can’t return manuscripts with comments). Also, please include your name and email address (necessary for reviewers to email back comments).
  • All reviews will be sent back to the authors so please make any changes/comments using the ‘Track Changes’ and ‘Comments’ feature in Word.
  • If you don’t want to send anything but are happy to be a reviewer, please contact us for copies of submissions and a link to the Zoom meeting.
  • After the meeting, please email your comments of each manuscript back to the author.

Note: due to brevity of critique time we will be focusing on the first 5 – 6 manuscript submittals only; if we get more interest, we will look into having another critique at a later date. Additional instructions and updates will be provided so keep an eye out for emails. But word to the wise: this is one of our more popular programs so anyone interested in submitting a manuscript, it’s first come, first serve. Otherwise, hope to see you there!

Coming soon: Independent publishing panel

Thinking of going Indie but not sure where to start?

Mark your calendar: Saturday, Oct. 17, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. EST. Virtual meeting via Zoom. RSVP: buckeyecrimewriters@gmail.com.

Join panelists Alicia Anthony, Trudy Brandenburg, Kandy Williams, and moderator Eileen Curley Hammond as they talk about their journeys, give nuts-and-bolts advice, and provide critical resources to help you on your way.

Alicia Anthony
Alicia Anthony

Alicia Anthony is the author of the Blood Secrets Saga, a three-book psychological thriller series about the cost of truth and the price we pay for love. She is a two-time Golden Heart® finalist and Silver Quill award winner.

Trudy Brandenburg

Trudy Brandenburg is the author of The Emma Haines Kayak Mystery Series. Former insurance fraud investigator Emma Haines loves to kayak—and sometimes—she paddles into trouble. But Emma’s spunky tenacity, investigative experience, and connections help her solve the crimes. Trudy’s writing has appeared in various publications, including The Columbus Dispatch, My Scioto Valley Magazine, and Canoe & Kayak Magazine. Her books were read on VoiceCorp, a service that provides audio broadcasting for the blind or people who have conditions that prevent them from reading print. Trudy speaks at book clubs and events, teaches writing classes, and is a researcher at a Fortune 100 insurance company.

Mercedes King
Mercedes King

Kandy Williams, who writes under the name Mercedes King, is a founding member of Buckeye Crime Writers and a Columbus, Ohio, native. With a degree in Criminology from Capital University, she has a passion for crafting true crime into fiction and exploring the depths of deviant behavior. Her upcoming novel, GRAVE SECRETS, features an abuse survivor intent on unraveling the mystery of her mother’s disappearance. 

Eileen Curley Hammond
Eileen Curley Hammond

Eileen Curley Hammond is the author of the Merry March Cozy Mystery series; her fifth book, Murder So Hot, was released in September. Eileen’s micro-fiction appeared in the first VSS365 Anthology (released last year). She has also been featured in several online blogs and will have a recipe in a soon to be released cookbook, Cooking with Fire.

A night with Lee Martin!

Make sure you don’t miss Gramercy Books’ A Night With Lee Martin, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 2! Journalist, crime author and BCW member Andrew Welsh-Huggins will have a conversation with Martin about Martin’s latest book, “Yours, Jean.”

Martin, a Pulitzer Price finalist is the author of five additional novels, three memoirs, two short story collections, and a craft book for writers. The Bright Forever was a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in many prestigious publications, including The Best American Mystery Stories, and The Best American Essays. Many of his short stories have appeared in literary journals such as Glimmer Train, The Southern Review, The Georgia Review and The Kenyon Review. Martin is the winner of the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction and of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ohio Arts Council. He teaches in the MFA Program at The Ohio State University.

Buckeye Crime Writers is honored to be a community partner for the event, along with The Ohio State University’s creative writing program and the Bexley Public Library.

See Sharon Short!

Saturday!  2/22/20!  Join us to welcome our next guest Sharon Short (pen name; Jess Montgomery), a Dayton author whose background includes being a newspaper columnist for the Dayton Daily News, writer-in-residence at Thurber House, former director of the Antioch Writers’ Workshop, three-time recipient of an Ohio Arts Council grant, and published author of several mysteries, including The Kinship series (Minotaur Books) which she’ll be discussing at our upcoming meeting.  Where, you ask?  Upper Arlington Library (2800 Tremont Road, Upper Arlington), Meeting Room B, at 12:30 p.m..  And just to give you a taste of what we’ll be talking about, BCW asked Sharon some questions about writing, her most recent series, and her love of pie . . . be there to learn more, and join us for lunch afterwards.

BCW:  So you’ve got two books out now in The Kinship series (congrats, btw):  The Widows (2019) and The Hollows (2020).  Both take place in Appalachian Ohio during the 1920’s and center on Lily Ross, the female sheriff of a small town who got the position after the former sheriff (also her husband) was killed.  Note:  this is also based on an actual event from that time period.  What made you think of this as the story you wanted to write?

Sharon:  I happened upon the story of Ohio’s true first female sheriff when I was researching hiking areas for a visit to our daughter, who attended Ohio University. I was struck by the notion of a female sheriff in the mid-1920s in a rural area, and that inspired my version, loosely based on the true first female sheriff. Additionally, my family of origin is from Appalachia — one county in Eastern Kentucky — on both sides. I’m the first Ohioan! So, though I consider myself a child of Appalachia in how I was reared and my childhood experiences, I was not geographically born in Appalachia, so I somehow thought I couldn’t write an Appalachian setting. Finding this story gave me a sense of not just permission to do so, but “coming home.”

BCW:  You’re a fan of Daniel Woodrell (confession; same here).  His books take place in Ozark culture and involve dirty, gritty, dark scenarios, comparable to William Gay, Donald Ray Pollock, or Cormac McCarthy.  Also very “male.”  By contrast, Annie Proulx also writes in this style.  Would you compare yourself to any of these authors, or is it something different?

Sharon:  Oh my. These are such terrific authors. I would not compare myself, though I’m honored if others do. I’ve also been compared to Sharyn McCrumb and Louise Penny for evoking setting. I’ll definitely take those comparisons too!

BCW:  Do you plan on more novels in this time period?  What else would you like to explore?

Sharon:  I am contracted through books three and four in the Kinship series–hurrah! I’d love to write more beyond that as well, if I’m so blessed. My imagination tends toward mid-century U.S., but I can also envision exploring other eras and areas.

BCW:  Finally, your blog features a pie of the month.  Fess up:  which is your favorite?

Sharon:  To bake: French Coconut, Buttermilk, or Sugar Shaker. So easy, and always a pleasure. I enjoy eating any of those, but also like French apple and chocolate cream — those are more difficult but so tasty! (You didn’t think I’d stick to one variation, did you?)

Winning entry from the holiday party

As promised, we had our 200-word writing contest at the holiday party! To refresh your memory, the rules were posted here.

The winner of the contest was Trudy Brandenburg! Her story, “Reindeer Games,” beat a strong field for the top prize. Here is the story:

“Great shot, Loreen,” Elmer, the director of the local shooting gallery said. “You’re sure to get a nice turkey for the holiday.”

“I ain’t out to shoot no turkeys,” Loreen said, aiming the old electric-powered rifle at the cut-out target again.

“Oh? What then?”

“Deer. Great big uns. I seen ‘em twice now–early the past two Christmas mornings. They’re lined up and have a big sleigh behind ‘em. I told that old fat man with a white beard to get offin’ my property both times. He just laughed and waved and headed off with a big bag. I’ll give him somthin’ to laugh about. I’m tired ah them big ruts in my yard, them deer pawin’ and snortin’ at the ground.”

“When did you say you saw them critters and that fat man?” he asked excitedly.

“Early Chrismas mornins, round three. I seen ‘em when I got up to go to the outhouse the first year and the last year, too. One of ‘em’s got a bloody nose.” 

“Loreen, I don’t think you should shoot them deer,” Elmer said, wide-eyed.

She fired off a few more shots before she lowered the gun and looked at him quizzically. “Why not?”

Establishing a writing career

Happy New Year, everyone! Our next meeting is at 12:30 p.m. Jan. 25 at the Old Worthington Library.

Your book is finally in print — hooray! It’s the end of the long, difficult process of writing and rewriting — then rewriting again. But are you really finished? What comes next?

Authors know that publishing a book is only the first step in establishing a writing career. Join us on Jan. 25 for a discussion with Connie Berry, author of the Kate Hamilton Mystery series (Crooked Lane Books) about publicity, marketing, networking with other authors, setting goals, and creating a productive writing life.

2019 BCW Holiday Event!

It’s that time of year again. No, not visiting with family, trading gifts, and reveling in the shared humanity and peaceful coexistence of friends, colleagues and neighbors. It’s time to gather with others (like you) who spend their free time imagining how to creatively murder complete strangers! Then writing about it! In the hopes that millions of people will read it! All while thinking, ‘Damn, this (gal/guy) is one twisted $#@%* . . . when does the next book come out?’

In other words, it’s time for the annual BCW Holiday Event! If you haven’t been, this is the one event of the year not to be missed. Where we all gather at a local restaurant to eat, drink and be merry, talking about our writing successes and failures, our hopes and dreams, and discussing the upcoming BCW 2020 year. In addition, we’ll be having our annual book exchange, with our own Carolyn Melvin reciting another variation of the Wright family travails to keep us thoroughly discombobulated.

Plus, there’ll also be the BCW Short Story Contest, where prizes of dubious value will be awarded and the winner will be published on the BCW website (see details below). So mark your calendar/Outlook for noon, Saturday, December 7, 2019, at the New Albany Rusty Bucket (180 Market Street, New Albany). Spouses, relatives, friends, significant others, and anyone just looking to hang with like-minded people on a Saturday afternoon are also encouraged to attend . . . just remember to bring a wrapped book from yourself and each member of your entourage (and be prepared to explain your choice when the wrapping comes off). See you there!

2019 BCW Short Story Contest!

As mentioned above, BCW is having a Short Story Contest for our last meeting of 2019. The concept: write a story of 200 words or less involving the photo included with this post. The only condition is that your story mentions the holidays/season. Otherwise, write whatever you want: be murderous, humorous, mysterious, use first/second/third person, an unreliable narrator, scatter red herrings like breadcrumbs . . . go nuts. Then turn it in by midnight, Thursday, December 5, to buckeyecrimewriters@gmail.com (just one submission per entrant, and don’t forget to include your name). Afterwards, show up at our holiday event Saturday (see above) for the awards and the basking of glory to be heaped upon all submitters. So why are you still reading this? Start writing . . . now!

NaNoWriMo 2019

An airplane mechanic works on a plane's propeller.
It’s time to crank it up!

Me (BCW President Patrick Stuart):  Wake up. It’s time for NaNoWriMo! 

You (you):  NaNowuuuhhhhhh? 

Me:  You heard me; NaNoWriMo. National. Novel. Writing. Month. That time of year where you burn incense to the writing gods, sacrifice a Stephen King novel or two, and start warming up the Keurig maker. Because you’re going to be rocking that caffeine to get a 50,000 word rough draft done by the end of November.

You:  Hahahahaha! (wiping tears from eyes). I thought you said ’50,000 words.’

Me:  I did.

You:  Holy (word redacted). You’re serious!

Me:  Damn straight. We do this every year. It’s a 30-day writing marathon that started in 1999 with 21 people in San Francisco.  Fifteen years later there were over 400,000 participants. 

You:  And how many met their goal? (skeptical face)

Me:  About one in ten.

You:  That’s not very many.

Me:  It’s the journey, not the destination, grasshopper.

You:  I hate it when you do that pseudo-Buddhist (word redacted).  Besides, I’ll bet those manuscripts sucked.

Me:  That’s not the point. The point is to end up with a rough draft, or at least a good start on one. Which can then be refined into something beautiful later.

You:  Like what?

Me:  Water for Elephants , by Sara Gruen. The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. Or The Darwin Elevator series, by Jason Hough. All of those started as NaNoWriMo manuscripts.

You:  So you’re saying if I finish 50k words, I’ll soon be sitting on a six-figure publishing deal?

Me:  Hahahahaha! (wiping tears from eyes). That’s funny! 

You:  You’re a terrible president.

Me:  True dat. But NaNoWriMo is about starting, not finishing. Or as my grandpa used to say, when the ‘poop hits the propeller.’ So go to the Bexley Library, 2411 E. Main Street, Bexley, Ohio on Saturday, November 16, from noon to 4:00 p.m. BCW has the Technology Room reserved, so you can sit with your fellow writers and write your fingers to the bloody nubs. We’ll even have refreshments, and a cattle prod in case you fall asleep. Would you like a demonstration?

You:  Yeah, right (zzzzzzzzzzzz-snap). Sweet (several words redacted). That hurts!

Me:  Pain is just weakness leaving the body, grasshopper. See you there.