A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!

Julie Moffet . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson . Vanessa Keir . Tonya Kappes . Julie Rowe . Joni M Fisher . Leslie Langtry

Sunday, June 5, 2011


For my inaugural post on Not Your Usual Suspects, I thought long and hard about what to write. After all, I wish to please. I’m a people-pleaser by nature. And I’m so excited to be a member of this fabulous group of authors. Thus, part of my preparation for this post involved several moments of panic. But once the panic cleared, thinking about this as a “first” had me thinking of other firsts…my first foray into writing, completing my first manuscript, the first time I felt comfortable calling myself a writer.

First steps. They can be such big steps to take. Sometimes the biggest. Sometimes so daunting that a potential writer never begins the journey.

But I’m glad I took those steps. The impetus to write has always been with me. I finally listened to the voices in my head right around the turn of the millennium. I remember picking up the January 2000 issue of Writer’s Digest and feeling like I’d finally found people who “got” me. I didn’t discover RWA until a couple years later (and then I found people who REALLY got me). Until then, my writing “career” involved much babbling and stumbling about, much like a toddler finding her voice and balance.

The kernel that eventually bloomed into my first manuscript came from a thought I had upon awakening one morning. (This was before I had kids, when I could lay in bed thinking for a few precious minutes before I had to rush to meet someone else’s needs.) Of course, that scene ended up buried in the second chapter rather than opening the book, but it gave me a clear look at the characters who’d been talking in my head for a few months now. I still remember that moment. That “ah-ha!” that motivated me to sit down and write my first scene. It was both a thrilling and a daunting task.

I still get a thrill when I sit down to start a new story. That blank paper or screen is full of possibilities. There’s nothing like starting fresh, getting to know my hero and heroine (and villain), and discovering a new plot. Okay, so maybe typing “The End” is a close second.

The beginning of my idea for Only Fear, my fifth manuscript and my first book due out from Carina Press on September 5, 2011, came from a documentary I watched about the Vidocq Society, a group of specialists who meet once a month in Philadelphia to solve crimes. I was fascinated by this concept, and thus my SSAM organization was born. (SSAM is short for Society for the Study of Aberrant Minds, a group of professionals with various specialties who hunt serial killers.)

Beginnings are tough, but so exciting, too. They can be stressful and stimulating. But getting past that first step in the journey is so rewarding.

What beginnings stand out for you and why? Do you remember the first time you had a story idea, or what became of that initial story? What was a memorable first step in your journey?


Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

LOL, your idea beginning has the same origin as mine. I used to lay in bed for a few minutes before getting up or falling asleep in those prechildren days. I ran the idea around in my head for months before I tried to write my first book.
Your book concept looks very interesting.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Susan, I sooo miss those prechildren days. ;) On the occasional morning I wake up before they do, I still have some really interesting ideas run through my head. Must be something about those pre-awakening moments, when the brain's just leaving a dream or something.

Marcelle Dubé said...

Sounds like you're making a great beginning, Anne Marie. Only Fear has a great premise. As for story ideas, I can't remember a time when I didn't have them. The trick for me was settling on one that had "legs"--enough potential to carry a novel.

Congratulations on your first Carina sale.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Thanks, Marcelle! And you're so right to wait for an idea that has "legs." I think I toyed with manuscripts for a couple years before finding an idea that I just knew was different enough to be special (that "X" factor thing). I think I was finding my way back then. Now, I can really sense when a kernel of plot is enough to drive an entire story. Took some experience to get there though.

MaureenAMiller said...

We are so happy to have you as part of the group, Anne Marie. :) Only Fear is definitely on my list for September.

Wynter Daniels said...

Welcome to NYUS! I've heard that those first waking moments are often rich with fresh ideas for many authors. I got the idea for my first book while I was working at a salon. Guess what? It took place in a salon;-)

Rita said...

As far back as I can remember I HAD stories to tell. BTW they were sometimes referred to as lies. I remember being very shocked when I learned not everyone had all these stories floating around in their head. I was discouraged and even punished for writing my stories down. Probably would have quit if that hadn’t happened. You know me, do exactly what I’m told not to. The idea for my book Under Fire came in five minutes. I see something and a story comes out like a bomb exploding. Not saying it’s a complete thing, but a beginning and end. When you get a story pop up how much do you see? No matter how exhausted I am when I hit the sheets stories pop up. Either a scene I’m working on or some wild new thing. If I go with thinking about it, I won’t sleep for hours. I’ve developed a sleep mantra to quiet the people in my head. Many, many times I’ve woken in the middle of the night or very early and a scene solution comes very clear.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Thanks, Maureen! Glad to be here. :)

Wynter, a salon sounds intriguing. I love using places everyone visits. The reader can relate immediately!

Rita - I'm so glad you kept telling lies. ;) I usually just get a snippet of a scene in my head. But even that's different with each book. I've written seven manuscripts, and a couple started out with a scene in my head. A couple developed over time from an idea (such as seeing the Vidocq Society on T.V. and having a premise to build on). I love beginnings and endings. The difficulty is the sagging middle!

Toni Anderson said...

I love your premise, Anne Marie :) Sounds like my sort of story.

Ideas and solutions often come to me in the shower, or somewhere else when the clutter is cleared out and thoughts/solutions/scenarios just seem to float to the top. Of course, if can be hard to find a pen in the shower...

Rita said...

Anne Marie
I can still remember third grade and Sister Cecilia taking my story with drawings . I know I got in a lot of trouble, but all I can remember is I didn’t get my ‘book’ back. I think it was about 5 pages.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Toni, I know what you mean about "clutter." Great word for it. If my mind feels cluttered, I have difficulty generating new ideas. Must be why I get them upon awakening or at other (rare) quiet moments. :)

Rita - I can picture Sister Cecilia sneaking away to read your book and keeping it for herself. ;)

Shirley Wells said...

Welcome to NYUS, and congrats on your first sale to Carina! Only Fear sounds a great read and I can't wait to download it.

I have my ideas when I'm trying to sleep. Husband snores and I lie awake plotting the perfect murder. Hmmm. ;)

Anne Marie Becker said...

Hahaha, Shirley -- I think I'd be plotting, too! Thanks for stopping by. :)

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