Writing Tip — Guest Blogger, Carole Brown

33782005_10216631991940246_8994067546852294656_nI am pleased to welcome back Carole Brown as a guest blogger today. Carole was here back in May when she talked about her novels set during World War II. Today she’s here to discuss crime fiction. Glad to have you back, Carole!

Which comes first when writing a mystery – plot, character, or setting?

For me, plot, setting, then characters, but they all run together so much that it’s really hard to pinpoint an exact timing for them. For example:

  • The Appleton, WV Romantic Mysteries have an equal amount of mystery and romance.
    • The setting is huge because it’s one place for all the books. Hometown, small community where everyone knows everyone and everyone’s business. And if they don’t, it’s normal to find out.
    • The characters are planned ahead of time, but developing them takes time and sometimes they even surprise me.
    • As for the plot, I begin research and creating the possibilities of what will happen at the very beginning, but it also grows as the book progresses.
  • The Denton and Alex Davies Mystery is mainly mystery, but I  do try to include a subplot which is a relationship problem.
    • The setting is different in each book since the Davies travel in their RV throughout the country.
    • Their personalities are pretty well developed from the first book. I might offer a surprise detail now and then.
    • BUT the plot is totally different in each book. This is where I have to dig deep to create interest in the book for the reader. Since the main characters are the same, I have to make sure the book can carry its weight by providing that enticing plot.

You write both romantic mysteries and cozy mysteries. What’s the difference?

I write both suspense books and mysteries. Let me explain briefly the difference:

  • Suspense is when you have a crime that is usually known from the start and the reader can know who the antagonist is from the start. (Not always, but usually). For example, The Spies of WWII series:
    • With Music in Their Heart
    • A Flute in the Willows
    • Coming:  Sing Until You Die
  • Mysteries are more secretive in that the reader usually doesn’t know who the antagonist is. They can guess and suspect, but with so many people who look guilty, the reader will either be surprised or if they are really good at solving mysteries, will not know the guilty party until the final chapters.
    • Romantic mysteries (mentioned above) has an equal amount of romance and mystery. The Appleton, WV Romantic Mysteries: 
      • Sabotaged Christmas
      • A Knight in Shining Apron
      • Undiscovered Treasures
      • Toby’s Troubles
      • And coming in the next year or so:  The Golden Touch and an unnamed one.
    • Cozy mystery: Mostly mystery with no on-scene death and, if there is romance, it’s written as a subplot only. The Denton and Alex Davies Mysteries:
      • Hog Insane
      • Bat Crazy
      • Coming Soon: Daffy’s Duck

What do you do to renew your inspiration when it is running low?

Hmm. My best and favorite way is to brainstorm with a close friend and/or my hubby. Both are quick thinking outside of the box, and even when I adjust their ideas or go an entirely different direction, they give me the inspiration I need to begin writing again.

 What’s the most unusual source of inspiration you have used in your writing?

My hubby’s imagination. Dreams. News that I develop into an entirely different book

 What advice would you give to someone who wants to write mysteries?

Read mystery books. Watch mystery shows. Play around with it. Do your research. Realize this is an entirely different ball game than writing a romance or another genre. Perhaps write a short story or novella to dig your toes into at first.

Thank you so much for stopping by, Carole!


sabataged-christmas1-front-cover3Toni DeLuca, the Italian owner of DeLuca Construction, finds herself confronted with doubts about her father and his possible deceptions—all because of the mysterious pink notes she’s been receiving.

Relations with Perrin Douglas who has a troubling history—but the first man in years who’s interested her—is building to a peak. Yet Perrin’s own personal problems and his doubts about women and God, keep getting in the way.

Gossip, a Spanish proposal, an inheritance, and a sabotaged construction business may ruin Christmas for Toni’s employees as well as her own happiness.

Will a mysterious person succeed in pulling off the biggest scam Appleton, West Virginia has ever seen? And will this culprit destroy Toni’s last chance at happiness with the man of her dreams?


WMITH Bk Cover small-Modified earringsAngry at being rejected for military service, Minister Tyrell Walkeraccepts the call to serve as a civilian spy within his own country. Across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio, a spy working for a foreign country is stealing secret plans for newly developed ammunition to be used in the war. According to his FBI cousin, this spy favors pink stationery giving strong indications that a woman is involved.

He’s instructed to obtain a room in the Rayner Boarding House run by the lovely, spunky red-haired Emma Jaine Rayner. Sparks of jealousy and love fly between them immediately even as they battle suspicions that one or the other is not on the up and up.

While Tyrell searches for the murdering spy who reaches even into the boarding home, Emma Jaine struggles with an annoying renter, a worried father (who could be involved in this spy thing), and two younger sisters who are very different but just as strong willed as she is.

As Tyrell works to keep his double life a secret and locate the traitor, he refuses to believe that Emma Jaine could be involved even when he sees a red-haired woman in the arms of another man. Could the handsome and svelte banker who’s also determined to win Emma Jaine’s hand for marriage, be the dangerous man he’s looking for? Is the trouble-making renter who hassles Emma Jaine serving as a flunky? Worse, is Papa Rayner so worried about his finances and keeping his girls in the style they’re used to, that he’ll stoop to espionage?

Will their love survive the danger and personal issues that arise to hinder the path of true love?


hog-insaneNewly retired, all Denton Davies wants to do is to fish and recapture his wife’s love. Instead, a dead body, a missing motorcycle, a strange key, and dope await them at their first stop in the Smoky Mountains.

None of the campground people, or even the sheriff, pretend to like Denton and his snoopy questions, and everyone seems to be lying.

Does a missing motorbike hide evidence that might incriminate the murderer?

The self-centered campground manager seems greedy enough to have hidden the motorcycle for the murderer. So why doesn’t he know where the bike is now?

And why is the sheriff ignoring obvious clues? Why leave a bribery note lying where Denton’s suspicious eyes can see it?

Denton wrestles with his personal demons of self-blame over his nephew’s death while riding a bike. His wife, Alex, resents Denton’s riding roughshod over her feelings.

When he thinks her love is fading, he’s determined to woo her back. But if he doesn’t find the young man’s murderer, their love may stretch to the breaking point.

To purchase, visit Carole’s page on Amazon.


Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. An author of ten books, she loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

Visit Carole on her website, Facebook page, Twitter, BookBub, Pinterest, Goodreads, LinkedIn, Google+, and Stitches in Time.







Mondays Sparks — Writing Prompts: Crime Fiction

camera-2292843_1280How would you finish the question “What if the camera …?” I attended a class led by author James Rubart last year, and he said writers must ask “What if” questions to generate story ideas. So … what if the camera belongs to the person lifting it? What if the camera’s memory card contains evidence of a murder? What if camera isn’t really a camera but the person stealing doesn’t realize this?

What other “what if” questions would you ask for crime fiction prompt?

Writing Tip — Genres of Crime Fiction

crime-scenew-3243661_1280Last year, I posted links to articles describing the genres of crime fiction and suspense. For those of you who are new to writing in this genre, I am putting a link to that post and found another post on Almost an Author that lists crime fiction genres as well. As a guest blogger says later this month, the fine differences between the genres is confusing. Many genres share characteristics.

One more thought on crime fiction: At the American Christian Fiction Writer’s conference in Nashville this year, I was fortunate enough to attend a class led by Steven James, who writes suspense. With a master’s degree in storytelling, Mr. James does a wonderful job of explaining why and how suspense works in fiction. He states a major difference between mystery stories and suspense stories is that mystery excites the reader’s curiosity while suspense excites concern.

What’s your favorite genre of crime fiction?

Writing Tip — Favorite Stories: Classics of Crime Fiction

nightw-578091_1280Trying to pick one favorite story to highlight this month’s theme proved impossible for me. There are so many stories in crime fiction I love. So I decided to select a variety of stories from the classics of crime fiction. Over the years, I have discussed these stories in more detail, so I’m putting links to those posts.

Sherlock Holmes

“The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton” from The Return of Sherlock Holmes — Holmes and Watson decide they are justified in committing burglary to save a woman from a professional blackmailer. I love this story because we get to see how much Watson enjoys his adventures with Holmes. He’s thrilled to the core to be sneaking through the night to commit a noble crime.

“The Illustrious Client” from The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes — I tend to like the stories where the superhuman reasoning machines are shown to be human after all. While trying to prevent a woman from marrying a sexual predator, Holmes is beat up, Watson is outraged, and once again, Holmes believes he needs to break the law to achieve justice.

“The Three Garridebs” from The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes — While trying to help a client who will receive a large bequest if three people with a rare last name are located, Holmes finally reveals the depth of his feelings for Watson. Watson’s description of seeing this side to his best friend’s nature is both touching and funny.

Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin

“Christmas Party” from And Four to Go — As with Sherlock Holmes, I like the stories that humanize Wolfe, who I find much less likable than his assistant/bodyguard Archie Goodwin. Wolfe becomes a suspect in a murder when he thinks Archie might be considering marriage.

“Black Orchids” and “Cordially Invited to Meet Death” from Black Orchids — The rare black orchid ties these two novellas together. The first concerns how Wolfe acquires the black orchid. It’s hilarious to read how he’s eaten up with envy when a rival orchid fancier cultivates it. This story also has a clever way of forcing a murderer to reveal himself. In the second story, a client meets a particularly nasty end. When Archie sees that Wolfe has sent a spray of black orchids for the funeral, he knows his boss is paying for than his condolences. But why?

Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple

Death on the Nile — Hercule Poirot has no shortage of suspects to consider when a beautiful young heiress is murdered on a boat cruising the Nile. I saw the movie of this book when I was in sixth grade, and the plotting blew me away. I think it’s one of Agatha Chrisities’ more clever puzzles, and the relationship between the two murderers is unusually complex.

Thirteen Problems — Miss Jane Marple solves a variety of mysteries in this short story collection. I’ve always like this characters because younger people and the authorities think the elderly spinster is too sheltered to know anything about real life. But because Miss Marple is a keen observer of human behavior in her small hometown, she understands people better than anyone.

And now for something really obscure …

The Third Omnibus of Crime, edited by Dorothy L. Sayers — I stumbled across this collections of mystery and horror short stories at my library when I was searching for titles by Dorothy L. Sayers. Compiled in the 1930’s, it features two mystery stories which are among my favorites. In “Wet Paint”, fishermen of the Pacific Northwest are disappearing from the boats while out fishing, leaving no clues. The sense of growing dread the fishermen feel is expertly conveyed. And the solution is perfectly reasonable and still perfectly surprising. “Inquest” has the most original motive for a murder I’ve ever read.

If you like classic crime fiction, what are some of your favorites?





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