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!

NOTE: the blog is currently dormant but please enjoy the posts we're keeping online.

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

Monday, December 31, 2012


The authors of Not Your Usual Suspects share their holiday season with you! We wish all our readers, friends, family and colleagues - and people who are allof these *g* - the very best wishes for the season, and a sled-ful of luck, love, peace and success in 2013. We hope to share it all with you.

Today we look forward to 2013....

What's the best thing we're carrying forward from 2012?  Have you enjoyed good health, or specific issues addressed? Have there been new babies / marriages / loves / bestsellers (*g*)? Are you finishing the year with a brave new attitude / business successes / new shoes / new friends / dropping old (bad) friends etc?!

Share your hopes for 2013 and your pleasures from 2012 with us here!

Clare London
website | blog | facebook | twitter

2012 has seen many changes for me, but one thing I've learned  is that, unfortunately, I CAN'T have it all. Something has to give, and it's usually me :). But that's also encouraged me to look at my priorities, and decide what's really good. I may not write as much in 2013 but it'll be on chosen projects, to allow myself time to relax. Oh, and of course I'll be losing 4 stone and winning the lottery HAHA.

Marcelle Dube

The best thing I’m carrying forward from 2012 is that I can actually survive my empty nest!

Julie Wachowski

For the last few years, instead of a “resolution” I give myself a motto. Last year it was: “say yes.” This year’s motto is “what matters?”

Jean Harrington

My favorite saying for New Year's is that resolutions are made to be broken. If I can pick one best thing from Clare's "bucket list," it's "bestseller." Happy 2013 to all my Carina friends. Cheers, and bright memories, Jean.

Toni Anderson
Blog | Website | Facebook | Twitter

2012 was a great year for me in many ways professionally. I hope I can build on that writing wise. I'm hoping to drop the 'mice issues' in 2013, and by god I'd love me a pair of sexy boots (I'm thinking UGG, not heels :-) )

Anne-Marie Becker
website | facebook | twitter

Moving on - I like the sound of that. I'm excited to carry forward the momentum in my Mindhunters series. Carina Press recently offerred me a contract for book 3 - DEADLY BONDS, and it will be released this summer, so I'll have plenty to keep me busy. Also, I'll be attending the Romantic Times conference for the first time ever this May, and I'm really looking forward to it.

Wynter Daniels

In 2012 I dipped my toes into the self-publishing pool and added eight books to my body of work. Self-publishing gave me more freedom than I have with the four publishing houses my other books are with. Although I will continue to submit certain work to those publishers, I hope to continue putting out books myself that fall outside the traditional boxes. This new business model has proved not only creatively freeing, but also financially sound for me. Cheers to a healthy and prosperous 2013 for all!

Elise Warner

Good health, good friends and good family and to continue writing, and seeing my work published.

Julie Moffett

 Looking forward to 2013! Lots of good things happened to me in 2012 and I'm hoping for an even better 2013!

Entries collected and posted by Clare - any pictures that haven't been provided by the authors have been chosen by me, and any queries about them can be directed here.

Friday, December 28, 2012


The authors of Not Your Usual Suspects share their holiday season with you! We wish all our readers, friends, family and colleagues - and people who are all of these *g* - the very best wishes for the season, and a sled-ful of luck, love, peace and success in 2013. We hope to share it all with you.

Today we think back on the joy of exchanging Christmas greetings....

So we're all struggling back into routine after the Christmas holiday over-indulgence :). What's the best Xmas greeting you received, this year or ever? Ever heard of anything outrageous, mis-spelled or just plain rude? LOL Any special Christmas messages or hugs? Tell us about it here!

Julie Wachowski

Holiday Cards & letters are really fun for me. I go a little crazy. Every year I do something different. One year, I did a card titled “Merry Noelemon” and created Pokemon cards of each member of our family, complete with descriptions hinting at what everyone had been up to that year. The year I had to have a serious surgery, I turned our Holiday letter into a medical claims invoice.  Last year, I created a fake Facebook account for my cat (click pic to enlarge). 

This year, I’m trying to decide if my inspiration should be a Superpac election ad or Fifty Shades of Grey….hmmmm. Hard call.

Jean Harrington

A secret kiss at a Christmas party--one I've never forgotten.

Anne-Marie Becker
website | facebook | twitter

Can't think of anything to add on this theme other than the classic song "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer"!

Shirley Wells
| Twitter | Facebook

As a kid, the Christmas ritual was always the same. Having spent a month writing to Santa and telling him about The Greatest Toy Ever without which my life wouldn't be complete, I crept into my sister's bedroom on Christmas morning, full of excitement, to tell her "He's been, he's been!" (She's 5 years older than me and would have managed to sleep until at least 5am if it hadn't been for me. Ha!) We opened the presents in our stockings and then waited and waited until we'd made enough noise to drag our parents from their bed in readiness for the big present opening session. (I'm going back a lot of years so it wasn't that big. :))

And there it was. I tore the paper from The Greatest Toy Ever! Clever old Santa, eh?

But before I could even look at it, it was time for breakfast. Then, while my eyes lingered longingly on The Greatest Toy Ever, it was time for church. Oh, the horror. I just knew that there would be far too many carols to be sung. As soon as we returned, I raced to The Greatest Toy Ever only to be told we were going out again. This was okay because it was time to visit my paternal grandparents where my sister and I were spoiled rotten. I'd delay playing with The Greatest Toy Ever for that. Aunts and uncles gathered and a jolly time was had by all.

When that was over though, it was time to visit my maternal grandparents. Here, you have to imagine the grimmest Christmas scene ever written by Dickens. My mother had countless sisters and brothers and my grandparents, with so many children to raise, had opted for a very strict regime. Children, they believed, should be seen (rarely) but never heard. The dozens of adults crammed themselves around a beautifully decorated table in the dining room and enjoyed a long, drawn out meal. My sister and I, along with countless cousins, ate in the kitchen and if the noise levels became audible, an adult soon put us straight. The visit went on and on and on and all I could do was think about The Greatest Toy Ever waiting at home for me. Later there were games to be played, although the children still had to be on their best behaviour. I wanted to go outside and play with the farm cats or generally roll around in the mud, but that wasn't allowed. I was restricted to being inside. I would have been happy rearranging the decorated tree but that wasn't allowed either. No, those hours consisted of being polite to aunts and uncles and great-aunts and -uncles whose main topic of conversation was how tall us kids had grown.

Eventually, however, it was time to pile into Dad's car and set off for home where The Greatest Toy Ever waited. It was late though and I was told it was time for bed. The day was over and I hadn't played with my present. Life was so cruel. :)

All these years later, I still love Boxing Day. Christmas Day is busy, hectic and a lot of fun but Boxing Day is bliss. I start the day with a long, long walk with the dogs, return home for mulled wine in front of a roaring log fire and then please myself. I may watch TV or I may read. I'll definitely eat lots of Christmassy food (the sweet stuff). Bliss!

On Christmas cards I've received: 
1. Polite Notice: Christmas is Cancelled. Apparently YOU told him you'd been GOOD all year. He died laughing.
2. Only accountants know the true meaning of Christmas.

From Clare: ignoring the implied insult because I'M an accountant *lol*
pic credit (chimney): vintage imagery from plan 59 

Elise Warner

The best Christmas greeting is an Anniversary card from my husband. He proposed while we were listening to Aaron Copland's Lincoln Portrait (our song but impossible to hum.) We married on Christmas Day.

Julie Moffett

My favorite Christmas quote is from Dr. Seuss: "And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?"

Entries collected and posted by Clare - any pictures that haven't been provided by the authors have been chosen by me, and any queries about them can be directed here.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


The authors of Not Your Usual Suspects share their holiday season with you! We wish all our readers, friends, family and colleagues - and people who are all of these *g* - the very best wishes for the season, and a sled-ful of luck, love, peace and success in 2013. We hope to share it all with you.  

Today we think about our favourite Christmas seasonal traditions....

What about the special food you cook, the songs you sing? Do you have a specific present-giving schedule, and woe betide those who try to buck the trend? Do you have experience of different decorations and celebrations from around the world? Feel free to share with us!

Clare London
website | blog | facebook | twitter

We always have stocking presents first thing in the morning - it used to be the only thing that kept the Sons from waking us up at some ungodly hour OL. Then presents from under the tree. Then there'd be one small present each left for later in the day, when we were stuffed with food and feeling the onset of Anticlimax.
My sister insists that everyone takes a turn opening a present, one at a time - it means she can keep up with who's getting what, and it also extends the excitement to the max!

Marcelle Dube

Some of the best Christmases I’ve had came when I moved North to the Yukon. It felt very strange being so far from family, and a little lonely. So a bunch of friends decided to get together for a potluck Christmas. The host cooked the turkey and provided the table (rule #1 was that it had to be a sit-down dinner) and the guests brought everything else. Every year, hosting duties fell on a different friend, then on a different couple as people paired up, and then a different family as our circles grew. Eventually, it became too unwieldy (it’s hard to host a sit-down dinner for 40 people in your dining room…) and we had to quit. But those friends became our Northern family.

Julie Wachowski

Christmas morning, we gather in the living room. Open presents from each other—mom, dad, and kids—while we nosh on chocolate croissants for breakfast. Then we start the movies! We watch 3 or even 4 movies over the course of the day. Lounge in our jammies, eat popcorn and leftovers. Best. Day. Ever.

Jean Harrington

This is not my family tradition, but it's a great one. A Southern friend said every December, she and her brothers would take their rifles and go out in the woods to shoot mistletoe out of the trees. On the other hand, my brother and I just hung up our stockings. 

From Clare: I can't believe I found a pic of mistletoe-shooting on the web...LOL

Toni Anderson
Blog | Website | Facebook | Twitter

I stunned my Irish in-laws the first Christmas morning I spent with them because it was 9 AM and I asked where was the sherry? However, they soon got on board for this crucial Broseley Beddow tradition. As a young child I remember visiting all my elderly relatives on Christmas morning and being given sherry at every one. I have a high tolerance for sherry :)

Wynter Daniels

The winter holidays in Florida don a faux chilly face. You might see frosted windows created with cans of fake frost and sparkly white blankets around lawn décor sitting on green grass! We celebrate Hanukkah at my house and I have just as many decorations—inside the house, at least—as my Christian friends and neighbors. A Mickey Mouse Hanukkah advent calendar, my most unique decoration, hangs near the door. I string a Happy Hanukkah over the glass sliders leading to the pool. We even have Hanukkah stockings around the fireplace! When our children were younger, we gave them a small gift every one of the eight nights, with the biggest one presented on the eight night after we lit the menorah for the last time that year. Now we give them things like gas gift cards and fancy electronics that my husband and I have only a vague knowledge of. One of the highlights of our celebration is the night I make my latkes, or potato pancakes. I usually invite some non-Jewish friends over to join us, which is a coveted ticket since I make the best latkes this side of the Mississippi!

Elise Warner

Pre-Christmas in Lucca--a walled city--31miles west of Florence, Italy. We find a small boutique and remember the few presents we haven't purchased yet. the proprietor doesn't speak English and I fumble with my cassette learned 50-words of Italian before remembering the pocket dictionary I bought for the trip. Everyone in the shop takes turns with the dictionary and with laughter and pantomime I describe the friends we need gifts for. The 105-year old mother of our best friend, the neighbor who takes care of our mail, the one who over-waters our plants and momentos for ourselves. We manage to board the wrong train as we head back to Florence--a part of our adventure in a city we'll never forget.

Julie Moffett

The food we cook is usually turkey, pumpkin and pecan pies, sweet potatoes, ambrosia. Lots of other sweets, too, of course!

Maureen A. Millerwebsite

We are Ukrainian, but it has been a long time since we've celebrated Ukrainian Christmas. But, boy when we did, was it a big thing!! Ukrainian Christmas is on January 6th. When everyone is back at work and back at school, we used to get all excited because the 'big day' was still to come. Even to this day if my dad passes a house with Christmas decorations up well past Christmas, he'll say, "Oh, they must be Ukrainian." LOL

It was a big feast held at my great-grandmother's house, which was actually a portal to another time. Her house was so old it had a hand-roller to wash clothes, and it had a pump in the back yard for fresh water. It was so old, I hate to admit that there were a couple family wakes on the very same dining room table that we celebrated Christmas on. (I know...too much information!) Fortunately, that was before my time.

Anyway, back to the festive part. Everyone in the family came over for Ukrainian Christmas. My great-grandmother, the stoic old Russian woman who spoke maybe three words during the course of the evening. My great-uncles and aunts, and a thousand assorted cousins. Uncle Paul singing Silent Night in Ukrainian. Aunt Marion making lumpy mashed potatoes. Uncle Wes with a cigar in his mouth at the table. My cousin Pauly, who is a famous doctor now and would rather be caught dead than referred to as "Pauly", was a mere youngster at the time. There are old home movies of me as a little tyke standing at the dining room table, waving my hands in the air because my grandmother wasn't opening my Christmas present quick enough for me.

These were good times. I'd like to believe in an afterlife...and that I'll be able to go back and have Ukrainian Christmas with the whole family again one day.

Entries collected and posted by Clare - any pictures that haven't been provided by the authors have been chosen by me, and any queries about them can be directed here.

Monday, December 24, 2012

THE NIGHT BEFORE XMAS - with the NYUS authors

The authors of Not Your Usual Suspects share their holiday season with you! We wish all our readers, friends, family and colleagues - and people who are all of these *g* - the very best wishes for the season, and a sled-ful of luck, love, peace and success in 2013. We hope to share it all with you.  

Today we think about "The Night before Xmas...." 

What are your favourite rituals or routines to get ready for Xmas? Midnight Mass, putting up stockings, drinking a gallon of sherry, watching Jaws...whatever! Is it a lull before the storm for you - or the last panic? Share the news with us :)

Clare London
website | blog | facebook | twitter

Christmas Eve is the time to creep around in the afternoon doing my shift at Santa's Grotto - i.e. wrapping the presents behind closed doors :) - then in the evening, we toast the season with a glass of Kir Royale, hang the traditional stockings on our bedroom door(s), and try to get enough rest to face the long and over-exciting day ahead. What I love most is enjoying the mixed bunch of decorations on our tree - they come from all around the country, and the world, they're from differnt times of our lives, from friends and family, some made by the children, some from charity stalls, some from upmarket stores. It's the story each has to tell that's precious. This year, one of my best friends in the US sent me a decoration for the tree - she couldn't have chosen a lovelier gift! and it has pride of place.

Also this is the first year all the family are in the Adult bracket - Son#2 passed 18 this month - but we're still like giggly kids :). Last year, we all bravely stayed up to go to Midnight Mass among a rare sprinkling of snow (or it may just have been thick rain *g*), only to find it had been rescheduled to an earlier 9pm, because the church didn't think people could or would stay awake! Oh well - home again to more Kir Royale :)

Marcelle Dube

I love Christmas Eve. In my family, it’s the lull between the craziness of getting ready for Christmas and Christmas day itself. Christmas Eve is when my daughters and I cuddle up on the couch (usually under a warm blanket and accompanied by hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps) and watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas – my all-time favourite Christmas movie. But it has to be the animated version, the one with Boris Karloff singing “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.

Julie Wachowski

Our whole family (20+) gathers to share an enormous pot luck dinner, and then watch the kids open presents. Grown-ups pick names and are allowed to buy one gift with an iron-clad spending limit. The stories created to account for savage violations of the dollar limit are the best part of the night. (“It was double 50% off with a coupon at the after-midnight sale!”)

Jean Harrington

In the 19th century, my great grandparents immigrated to the US from Germany, bringing many Old World customs along with them. At Christms time, my mother recalled that her grandparents would set up a real fir tree in the front parlor, and the children in the family would festoon it with paper garlands and strings of cranberry and popcorn. Her grandfather would attached candles to the branches, taking care that each one had flame clearance above it. On Christmas Eve, the whole family would gather around the tree while grandpa carefully lit each candle. They would enjoy the glowing spectacle for ten or fifteen minute, and then he would carefully extinguish the lights. Oh, a very important part of the festivities was the bucket of water standing at the ready. Just in case.
pic courtesy of

Toni Anderson
Blog | Website | Facebook | Twitter

Moving to Canada and leaving all our family behind meant we had to reinvent our Christmas rituals. Nowadays we head across to visit friends and have a sledding day. This can be good or bad depending on the windchill :-D I think the coldest we ever did it was about -40C and that was over PDQ :-) . When we get home we have mince pies and sherry and read 'The Night Before Christmas' in front of the fire.
Love it.

Anne-Marie Becker
website | facebook | twitter

We set out cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. We also read "Twas the Night Before Christmas." After the little ones have visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads, hubby (ahem, Mr. Claus) and I sneak off to have a glass of wine and watch "Die Hard," Trading Places," "A Christmas Story," "The Ref," or "Elf" (traditional Christmas movies, for sure) while we do the last-minute wrapping and assembling.

Elise Warner

Placing my red Snoopy candle holder on the piano surrounded by Christmas cards and notes from family and friends. An elf dangles his feet from the edge of the piano and a globe with drifting snow adds to the season's festivities.
pic courtesy of

Julie Moffett

When I was a child and with my children, we always open one present on Christmas Eve. It's so exciting. Then we have candlelight service at church and after we are home, we put out carrots for the reindeer and frosted Christmas cookies for Santa. No matter how hard we stayed up (or my kids try), they always fell asleep before Santa came. Sometimes before the present opening, we might watch a Christmas movie like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or Frosty the Snowman.

Shelley Munro
blog | website | facebook | twitter

Christmas isn’t Christmas to me until I hear the song Snoopy’s Christmas sung by The Royal Guardsmen. This is my all-time favorite song. While searching YouTube I found this video.

Entries collected and posted by Clare - any pictures that haven't been provided by the authors have been chosen by me, and any queries about them can be directed here.

Friday, December 21, 2012

What do you really want for Christmas?

Wow. Four days until Christmas.
How are things going for you? Are the decoration hung? Cards sent? Presents wrapped? Anyone who follows me on Facebook knows about my challenges with The Puppy Who Eats Wreathes. And packages.

Add in #deliverypersonfails:
The present for my dad’s second wife arrived today. In about a thousand pieces.

Not what I expected to give for a Christmas gift.
So I'm scrambling, looking for a replacement gift.

How do you handle buying gifts for people you don’t really know?

Sidebar - I recently realized I had a split personality with my blogs. I talk about writing here on Not Your Usual Suspects—and the rest of my life on Blame It On The Muse. Hmm… do the rest of your bifurcate your life?

Let’s lighten it up a bit. And change it up. :)

Do you find it hard to find presents for the people in your life? Do your friends and family tell you it’s tough to choose something for you?
Last year, I talked about what I didn’t get for Christmas (that would be a tractor J ) Go here. Betcha didn’t see that coming.

Let’s make the blog interactive today. What’s the strangest/most interesting/weirdest gift you’ve given/received for Christmas?

What do you wish someone looked into the recesses of your life and knew you wanted   without your having to ask/leave a million clues?

I’ll start – I really hope hubby picked up on my comments/hints and got me a tread-desk. I sit too much for the day job and would love to slowly put in a few walking miles each morning while handling email and social media. I’m not sure I’m coordinated enough to work on the Work In Process while trudging away on the treadmill, but hey, I’m willing to give it a try.

What about you?




Wednesday, December 19, 2012



You can’t unwrap this gift, and you can’t wear, or eat, or smell it.  But you can read it and mull it over.  Often a surprise, sometimes welcome, sometimes not, a critic’s review of your book really is a gift even when saying what you don’t want to hear.  Especially then for that’s most likely a critique that speaks the truth.

The question, of course, is do you want the truth?  Would you rather have someone say that you look beautiful, or that you have spinach in your teeth?  Personally, if the spinach is there, I want to know.

A version of this question was tackled by Robert De Niro in the November 18th issue of The New York Times Magazine when he was interviewed by A. O. Scott.  In response to Scott’s, “What is your relationship to critics?  Or to your own reviews.” De Niro answers,

“. . . if you didn’t have critics—even though they can annoy you and
upset you—if you didn’t have a critic, who would tell you how it is? 
Because people won’t tell you.  When you do a movie and you’re
showing it to people or audiences or friends, they’re never going to
say that they dislike it.  Because they’re with you and they know
what you went through.  So they’ll always find a positive thing to say.”

Here’s a master at his game welcoming criticism so he can hear the truth about his performance.  Terrific!  While I’d rather learn that my Murders by Design Mysteries are delightful romps with a spunky, unforgettable heroine playing amateur sleuth, I agree with De Niro that “. . . the people who you’ll get real feedback from are critics.”  Then he hedges his bets by adding—and I love this—“Especially good critics.”

And therein lies the subject of another blog.  Happy holidays, everybody! 

Monday, December 17, 2012


I love Christmas. I love the music, the decorations, the food… I even love schlepping around looking for the perfect present. Christmas puts me in a good mood; it makes the world glow for a few short weeks during a cold and dark time of the year. It gives me the warm fuzzies.

But something odd happened this year. For some reason, the Christmas season affected me differently. It put me in a romantic frame of mind. Maybe it’s because so many of my friends are romance writers (including many on the Not Your Usual Suspects list) and they all seem to be having fun. Maybe it’s because I’ve been travelling a lot these past few months and a lot of the places I’ve been to have been quite romantic. Or maybe I’m just getting soft and mushy.

Whatever the reason, I suddenly found myself thinking about love and Christmas and before I knew it, I’d written a romantic short story! A contemporary romance, at that, with not even a speck of mystery. I feel a little sheepish about it because I’ve always said that I don’t have a romantic bone in my body, but there you have it. Apparently I have a teeny tiny one, hidden somewhere deep inside. A wishbone, maybe.
I blame Christmas.

So, writers, have you ever been surprised by the story that emerged? And readers, has a favourite writer ever surprised you with the direction they’ve taken?

I’ve called my little aberration Running Away From Christmas and you can find it on Amazon and on Smashwords, and soon enough, in all the other regular places. 


Saturday, December 15, 2012

I-Spy: Writing the Gay Mystery - Q&A

Join the authors and friends of Not Your Usual Suspects for an occasional series of posts about their world of reading, writing and publishing.



Short and sweet, hopefully both informative and entertaining - join us at I-Spy to find out the how's and why's of what we do.

TODAY'S POST: I-Spy: Writing the Gay Mystery – Q&A



 Well, the time has come to wrap up our series on writing gay and male-male mystery here at Not Your Usual Suspects. I hope you've all enjoyed reading the column as much as I have writing it!
For our last installment I thought it might be useful to do a Q&A session. I had asked for questions last month, but there weren't a lot of them! So I'll answer those here and now -- and if there are any others, just post them in the comment section below and I'll check in every so often throughout the day and answer them.
And if there aren't any questions, I just want to thank you all again for reading along this year!
teko-tenka asked:
 I was wondering, same with the conflict, should the writer also have a general idea of what the series' mysteries will be? Should there be a single theme for those mysteries since it's a series, or should ideas for them come from current interests and events in what's a popular read/theme currently? (making a BDSM related murder because people show unhealthy obsessions with 50shades for example)

Great question. I think this is optional. To some extent the type of mysteries will be determined by the sub-genre itself -- if the mystery is cozy in tone, for example, you probably won't be dealing with serial killers. I don't think it's necessary to chart out the actual plots or to decide what all the cases will be about. I do think you'll want to have a clear idea of the character arcs, but you can figure that out without actually knowing the particulars of the individual cases. For example, I knew Jake and Adrien would break up in the third book -- and why -- but I had no idea the mystery itself would revolve around the occult or devil worship. I also knew they would be getting back together two years later, that Jake would be the catalyst, but again I had no clear idea of the particulars of what that case would be.
Suzanne Gabbay asked:
I wonder sometimes how authors feel about their books being labeled and/or catalogued into such specific genres. And, I’m interested to know if this labeling is a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ thing to an author. I know that in many cases authors are trying to write to fit into a particular genre, and are therefore writing for a very specific audience…BUT, and I suppose this is my question – do you look at your success as an author in terms of this specific audience – in that you are writing ONLY for the audience who wants to read ‘gay fiction;’ OR, do you want to be known as an author who wrote that great mystery series featuring Adrien English (who happens to be gay)?
It's a double-edged sword, certainly. I don't mind labeling up to a point. I want readers specifically looking for gay fiction to be able to find my work. But first and foremost I think of myself as a mystery writer who writes gay characters. Other than erotic content, my traditional mysteries are pretty mainstream -- but that erotic content is a deal breaker for a number of readers. So while I am sorry to lose out on mainstream readers for whom erotic content wouldn't be an issue, I also don't want readers for whom it is an issue to be forced to find out the hard way that my books are also erotic romances.
I'm not sure if I'm properly answering this. I think labeling is a convenience and serves a useful purpose, but yes, it has unintended consequences and those consequences don't always serve authors or readers well.
Have you read any of Raphael’s short stories or non-fiction? I really admire his work, and identify very closely with many of his themes. He has (for me, at least), the ability to cross genre lines in his writing and I (as a married, heterosexual female and mother of 2 children) find that I can relate and identify very closely with his writing (Raphael is male, homosexual; with no children of his own). There is one scene in his first Nick Hoffman mystery, 'Let’s Get Criminal,' a dinner scene in which Hoffman and his live-in partner have invited the former flame of his partner over for dinner, and Hoffman is a bit edgy and jealous – even though this character is an individual completely different from me in so many ways, I totally ‘clicked’ with the Nick Hoffman character and what was going through his mind in that scene – that could have been me – I’ve been there; done that; made those silly and jealous comments, etc.! Here is an author whose writes about an individual who is so different from me in so many ways, yet manages to imbue him with enough reality that I could see myself in that character.
I've read and enjoyed Raphael's Nick Hoffman series -- the first two books in particular. I agree that he taps into something universal and engaging in those books, and this is the challenge for all of us, regardless of the characters or the genre. We want to tap into that recognizable humanity, the universality (is that a word!?) of our characters (both main and supporting) -- because in the ways that really matter -- all humans are very much alike. And the books we enjoy the most are the ones that have some kind of recognizable reality to the characters. We needn't always like them, but we must believe those characters are real (at least for the span of the story).

As a follow-up to my earlier comments above – I never know nowadays how comments may be interpreted, and I don’t want to step on any toes – SO, may I clarify that I am curious about how an author defines themselves in a very general sense. For example, many years ago I had the opportunity to attend a reading & questions/answer session with Terry McMillan right after the release of her novel ‘Stella Gets Her Groove Back.’ I was too shy to ask at the time, but again, was very interested in knowing how she felt defined as an author – did she feel that her success was defined by her African-American female protagonist; did she believe her success as an author is in being known as a writer of African-American female themes; OR, would she want to be recognized as an author who wrote great literary fiction about culturally diverse women in today’s society? How much of who you are defines the characters that you write about; and is it even possible to separate those core traits that make each one of us an individual? I hope I’m making some kind of sense here – sorry for running on so long!
Oh but I think these are wonderful questions. I don't think there's a definitive answer, however. I think, in fact, all of us writing any kind of niche fiction struggle with this. I think we all want to be more than the niche our work is relegated to. But at the same time, how can we not be grateful for a niche which by defnition has its own built in core readership?
In gay fiction, in particular, there is an ongoing question as to what gay fiction even IS. Is it fiction written strictly by gay and lesbian women? Even if they are not writing fiction that is concerned with gay characters or gay themes? Or is it fiction that deals realistically with gay characters and gay concerns even if it is not written by authors who identify as gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgendered?
There is no simple answer -- not as far as I can see -- but I think the real value lies in the discussion itself.
Other questions? Thoughts? Opinions?






A distinct voice in gay fiction, multi-award-winning author JOSH LANYON has been writing gay mystery, adventure and romance for over a decade. In addition to numerous short stories, novellas, and novels, Josh is the author of the critically acclaimed Adrien English series, including The Hell You Say, winner of the 2006 USABookNews awards for GLBT Fiction. Josh is an Eppie Award winner and a three-time Lambda Literary Award finalist


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Friday, December 14, 2012

Best Gifts for Writers

I originally wrote a post about how my overactive imagination got the best of me during the week we were without power after Hurricane Sandy devastated much of the East Coast, but I decided that was too dark for the holiday season.

Instead, I thought we could talk about holiday gifts: the best to give, the best to receive, and the best you ever got.

Gift suggestions:

Encourage a hobby – If we’re not careful, we writers can spend all our time glued to the keyboard at the expense of relationships, health and other interests. For example: I've done three half-marathons so I appreciate anything from sneakers to sunscreen to an offer to walk/run with me.

A gift certificate to a café – Most writers are fueled by caffeine and many would relish the chance to be able to go out and write (or just people-watch).

A book YOU have enjoyed and think they will too – If you read a great book and you think your friend will enjoy it, pass it along, but DON’T give them a book you’ve “heard” is good. Part of the fun of gifting books is being able to discuss them.

A gift certificate to an office supply store – Office supplies are like catnip to writers

A subscription to a magazine – It can be a literary magazine, a writing craft magazine, or a magazine about a totally unrelated subject that interests them…writing is not their entire life/identity and sometimes a break from their chosen career path is a welcome break.

A gift certificate to a bookstore – Writers love bookstores, whether they’re book-and-mortar or online.

A chance to take a class/attend a workshop – Again, it could be writing-centric or could be something else. (Just don’t try to send them to something they have no interest in.)

Something for a writer’s desk/office – a pen, a candle, a computer program (I love Write Or Die and many friends swear by Scrivener) a motivational calendar, music, noise-cancelling headphones, something that shares YOUR gift (my office is filled with pictures taken by friends who are talented photographers, amazing hand-crafted items from crafty pals, and I’m often playing music composed and performed by a talented artist friend) a new robe (for those who aren’t big on getting dressed, lol) plants (writers’ brains are oxygen-starved!) or a kitchen timer (seriously, a kitchen timer is a GREAT writing tool)

Read and post a review of their book  -- SOOO appreciated

Time to write – offer to babysit, run errands, provide a meal that can be frozen

Support – read their work (published or not)  and offer encouragement (we all lose hope/faith at some point)

The above are, in my opinion, the best gifts to receive. What would you add to the list?

What are some of the best gifts you’ve received?

What gifts are do you dream of/hope to receive?

My favorites have been: the amazing support of the writing community and my friends (and DH) purple pens, a roll of crime scene tape, Panera Bread gift cards and the gifts of classes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Carpe Duodecim

Today will be amazing. Are you ready for it? Have you had your coffee? (Or did I scare you away with the Latin title?) If you’re still here, hold on, cuz here it comes…

Today is 12-12-12. It’s the last of those “repeating” dates for a long, long time. At least in our lifetime. There is no 13-13-13 or 14-14-14 or…well you get the idea. So, today I’m urging each of you to carpe duodecim. Seize the twelve.

If you hadn’t noticed, I’m kind of fond of symbolism. I love numerology, word patterns, fractal images, etc. In fact, when naming my children (I have three), I considered syllables and abbreviated nicknames when naming them so that when I chose names, I had a nice, neat, reciprocal pattern. My husband’s nickname is three letters. My name (Anne) is four. Our first child has a one-syllable, five-letter name, second child has two syllables and four letters, and, you guessed it, third (and final!) child has three syllables and his nickname is three letters long. (Now, if only that last child had been a girl, it would have been girl-boy-girl-boy…you get the idea. It’s okay, though. I’m kind of fond of the tot, so I’ll keep him.)

And no, my love of thought-provoking patterns doesn’t end with numbers. I love juicy words. Words that have meat and flavor and evoke emotion. For instance, why say “walked” when you can say “jogged,” “strutted,” or “stumbled?” So much more meaning there. So much more elegant.

And, images! Well, the world is founded on fractals…tiny, repeating, beautiful patterns (see the image above, captured by the author "Eequor" on Wikipedia).

Okay, so maybe my passion isn’t so much fondness as fanaticism. I like patterns. I like things nice and neat and symmetrical…and packed with flavor.

So, today is special. Go forth and do great things. Heck, do 12 great things. Breathe fresh air, create new art, say hello to someone new, or do whatever makes you happy (as long as it’s legal…according to the Mayans, we may only have a few days left before the end of the world and you really don’t want to spend them in jail, do you?).

Go do something fabulous. Carpe duodecim. Cuz this won’t happen again for another 100 years... If the Mayans were wrong.

What are you going to do with your special day? Do you have any “quirks” centered around words, numbers, or calendars? (Or is it just me?)

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