C’mon, Let’s Get Cozy!

Okay, it’s ’fess up time. I like cozy mysteries. There—I said it—this big bad former Marine who writes hardboiled mysteries enjoys curling up on the sofa with a cup of hot tea and losing myself for a few hours in the Land of Cozies. Uh, make that my recliner, and scratch the tea. And make it a cold beer or three fingers of single malt Scotch instead. There, now I’m all set and ready to enjoy!

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As a change of pace I thought today I would show my feminine side (can I do that?) and feature a few of my favorite cozy authors and their books. And so, in no particular order here are a few of my favorite cozy authors and series.

connie archer 1                    connie di marco 1

Connie Archer, aka, Connie di MarcoMs. Archer is the author of THE SOUP LOVER’S MYSTERY series, starring Lucky Jamieson, her grandfather Jack, and a crew of delightful and sometimes quirky secondary characters. Set in the beautiful ski resort village of Snowflake, Vermont, Lucky is not always so lucky when it comes to bodies dropping dead near the Soup Shop, the quaint but busy café she inherited when her parents were killed in an automobile accident. The SOUP LOVER’S MYSTERY series include A Spoonful of Murder; A Broth of Betrayal; A Roux of Revenge (gotta love that title!); Ladle to the Grave; and A Clue in the Stew.

These titles can be found on Connie Archer’s Amazon page: http://amzn.to/2aeWrTl

Connie’s new series (written as Connie di Marco), the ZODIAC MYSTERY series, features San Francisco astrologer and amateur sleuth, Julia Bonatti. The first book in the series, The Madness of Mercury, was released in June 2016, and promises to be as entertaining, if not more so, than Connie’s other series. You can find The Madness of Mercury here: http://amzn.to/2a51ROv

Sandra Balzo 1                  sandra balzo 3

Sandra Balzo, author of the MAGGY THORSEN MYSTERY series, and the MAIN STREET MYSTERY series. Maggie Thorsen owns Uncommon Grounds, a gourmet coffee shop in the small Wisconsin town of Brookhills (the shop’s name also happens to be the title of Ms. Balzo’s first book in the series). The “shocking” death of one of Maggy’s partners launches her co-career as an amateur sleuth. Books in the series include: Uncommon Grounds; Grounds for Murder; Bean There, Done That; Brewed, Crude and Tattooed; From the Grounds Up; A Cup of Jo; Triple Shot; Murder on the Orient Expresso; and To the Last Drop.

Ms. Balzo’s MAIN STREET MYSTERY series is set in Sutherton, a resort town located in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina. Our protagonist is feisty reporter-turned-sleuth AnneLise Griggs. Titles in the series include: Running on Empty; Dead Ends; and Hit and Run.

Both of Sandra Balzo’s fun and entertaining series can be found at her Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/29XuTmw

cathy pickens 2                   cathy pickens 3

Cathy Pickens’ SOUTHERN FRIED MYSTERY series is set in Dacus, a small fictional town located in the Upstate region of South Carolina. Our heroine is Avery Andrews, attorney-at-law (as is our author). Avery has just been fired—through no fault of her own—from her dream job with a large, big city law firm. Deflated, Avery returns to her roots and opens a small practice in her home town. It’s not long before events occur which propel the lawyer to take on the added responsibilities of amateur sleuth.

One reason this series first caught my attention is that I now live in the general area of the series’ location. I have a pretty good idea of where the fictional Dacus is (very close by!), plus as Avery travels the countryside sniffing out clues, it’s fun to figure out her “real” destinations. This well-written and enjoyable series includes: Southern Fried; Done Gone Wrong; Hog Wild; Hush My Mouth; and Can’t Never Tell. Alas, there have been no other SOUTHER FRIED MYSTERIES released since 2009. I fear Ms. Pickens has turned her attention elsewhere. This series can be found at the author’s Amazon page: http://amzn.to/2av6YJb

ann george 1                     ann george 2

Anne George’s SOUTHERN SISTERS series is a hoot and among the most entertaining books I’ve ever read. Unfortunately, the author passed away in 2001, so the eight books she left us is all we have. But what a fun and laugh-out-loud legacy Anne George left for readers to enjoy over and over again. Our heroine, Patricia Ann Hollowell (nickname, Mouse) is a petite, quiet natured, retired school teacher of sixty. She’s been married to Fred for many years, and theirs is a stable and loving relationship. Co-heroine and older sister Mary Alice Crane (nickname, Sister), is sixty-five, boisterous, weighs in at two hundred (plus) pounds, wears bright, eye-catching outfits, and regularly dyes her hair outlandish colors. Together, the siblings would make a terrific Hollywood comedy act.

“Sister” has recently buried her third husband (each dearly departed spouse happened to be very rich, leaving poor Mary Alice with more money than she knows what to do with). With the news that Mary Alice has just closed the deal on a country-western oriented nightclub (the “Skoot ‘n’ Boot”), the two sister sleuths are launched headlong into their first caper when a body turns up dead inside Mary Alice’s latest investment. Based in the Birmingham, Alabama, area, the action sometimes shifts to the coastal Florida panhandle, in and around Destin. All-in-all, if you enjoy your mysteries with snappy dialogue, a biting but loving relationship between sisters, and well-crafted stories, Ms. George’s SOUTHERN SISTERS series will fill your bill nicely.

Books in the series include: Murder on a Girls’ Night Out; Murder on a Bad Hair Day; Murder Runs in the Family; Murder Makes Waves; Murder Gets a Life; Murder Shoots the Bull; Murder Carries a Torch; and Murder Boogies with Elvis.

Anne George’s funny and appealing cozies can be found at her Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/2afBsgm

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So there you have it, some of my favorite cozy authors and series. Of course there are several others I could have deservedly listed, but time/word restraints and laziness prevent me from doing so. What are some of your favorite cozy mysteries, authors, or series? I’d sure like to hear from you. Hey, I’ll bet you can come up with some gems that have slipped my attention. So, click that “reply” button and fire away. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!


{A BIG shout out goes to Bitly.com for their wonderful and FREE URL “shrinking” services! I’ve used Bitly many times. In my opinion, they can’t be beat. Give ’em a try if you need to shorten a L-O-N-G URL into one much more manageable. Thanks a bunch, Bitly!}


An Interview with Paul D. Marks

motivemeansopportunityIt’s our great pleasure to have Paul D. Marks, Shamus Award-winning author on MMO today. Read about his writing process, how to write cinematically, the difference between noir and mystery. . .and much more! Check it out!


MMO: White Heat won the Shamus Award back in 2013. I really dig the setting (Los Angeles during the Rodney King riots) as well as Duke Rogers (the P.I. protagonist).  Did you have the setting/context in mind first, or the character? How did that whole book “come together”?

Paul: It’s kind of like the chicken and egg question, isn’t it? And after all this time and so many words under the bridge also a little hard to remember. But setting and context are always important to me. People have said that Los Angeles (in particular) is like another character in my books and stories. I think the character of a city influences the characters and the actions they take. The L.A. atmosphere/culture drives what my characters do and say, at least to some extent. While people have a lot in common, they’re different in L.A. than Manhattan or Wichita or Macon. So, add to that the acquittal of the police officers in the Rodney King beating trial. That and the subsequent riots were events that deeply scarred and shaped Los Angeles in the 1990s, and even to today. Having lived in Los Angeles during that era, I wanted to capture that time and place and tell people about it in a way that wasn’t preachy. And what better way to do that than to put my P.I. in the middle of it?

The other spark (no pun intended) for the story was the Rebecca Schaeffer murder. She was an up and coming actress, who was murdered by a fan who had hired a P.I. to find her physical address in pre-internet days. She was expecting a script delivery that day and opened the door not knowing that a stalker would be there, gun in hand. I wondered about the P.I. who found that address for her killer and what he/she must have felt. So those are the two sides of the story, Duke, the P.I., and the King riots, coming together to make White Heat.


MMO: Not to spoil anything, but there are some very clipped, intensely dramatic italicized sections in White Heat that serve to heighten the tension. How’d you come up with that?

Paul: I’m glad you think they were intense and dramatic. My purpose in doing those sections was to give a heightened sense of being there. They’re written, as you say, in clipped, staccato prose and also in the present tense to really (hopefully) bring the reader into the moment and feel the intensity and drama that the character is feeling at that moment. Sort of to become the character for those sections and totally be inside his head. There was an old TV show called You Are There that put the viewer into historic situations. This is my version of that – you are there with Duke, seeing the situation live.

white heat

MMO: In all your books—White Heat, Vortex, and L.A. @ Late at Night—I’ve noticed how cinematic your writing is. Talk about where (and how) that came about.

Paul: Well, my background is in screenplays, script doctoring, so naturally my writing gravitates towards that style. It can be a good thing because I think screenwriting taught me story structure and to be visual. But it can also be a handicap in that I had to work hard to fill out my descriptions more and not use an omnipotent POV like movies do. And I’m a big movie buff, especially film noir (particularly the golden age of film noir in the ’40s and early ’50s) and thrillers, so I tend to play out my storyline like a movie in my head as I’m writing. And sometimes I’ll even write out my first draft in screenplay format just to get the story down.


MMO: I’m not terribly interested in genre-labeling, but I would say that White Heat is a P.I. mystery, while Vortex is a straight-up noir thriller. Explain some of the similarities and differences between these two genres. And, as a writer, do you have a preference? How about as a reader?

Paul: I’ll give you that Vortex is a straight-up noir thriller. But I’d also say that White Heat is noir as well, though it does have more “straight” mystery elements than Vortex. To me, the thing that most makes something noir is not rain, not shadows, not femme fatales, not slumming with lowlifes. It’s a character who trips over their own faults: somebody who has some kind of defect, some kind of shortcoming, greed, want or desire…temper or insecurity, that leads them down a dark path, and then his or her life spins out of control because of their own weaknesses or failings. To this end, White Heat falls into this category because Duke’s weakness for quick money sets the plot in motion. But since we don’t know who the bad guy is and Duke has to figure that out it also has that whodunit element. Whereas Vortex has a darker, more ambivalent tone, and Zach, the main character, his problems are totally brought on by his own weaknesses.  As a writer I like both and maybe that’s why WH is a little of both. And ditto as a reader: I like to read a variety of things depending on my mood. My favorite writers are Raymond Chandler and Ross MacDonald, who are both straight mystery writers. And James Ellroy, who is more noir. And David Goodis, who is totally noir.


MMO: In addition to publishing a collection of hard-and-soft-boiled stories, you’ve had a short story nominated/short-listed for the Macavity Award. Explain to other writers out there why writing short stories is a) fun and b) worthwhile.

Paul: I’ve had over thirty short stories published now in a variety of magazines, anthologies and the like. But one of my many goals had been to break into Ellery Queen and I did with my story “Howling at the Moon.” It was nominated for both the Anthony and Macavity Awards in 2015, as well as coming in #7 in Ellery Queen’s Readers Poll Award, so all of that was very cool.

Why short stories are Fun: Immediate gratification. There’s a certain immediate gratification in writing short stories. You can finish them faster (usually than novels) and get the instant “joy” of having a completed work – and often sell them and see them in print faster than a novel. They’re like little puzzles that you fit in all the pieces and feel a sense of satisfaction when you make them fit.

Why short stories are Worthwhile: Stories help you hone your craft. In some ways they’re harder than writing novels. You really need discipline to make everything work right in a confined space. They’re also a way to get your name out there. Lots of little markets (some non-paying, some token payment) are willing to take an unpublished writer. They get exposure for your writing. They’re also a good outlet for some ideas that might not have enough meat on them to make a novel. And you can explore different styles, genres and characters and sometimes realize that you want to pursue a novel length work after discovering a story and character you like in a short story. And I like the challenge and discipline of squeezing a thousand things into a tiny box. There’s really no downside to writing stories. I like doing both novels and short stories.


MMO: Name three writers that made you want to write, and why.

Paul: How about three writers who made me want to write mysteries and/or noir, ’cause I can’t remember far enough back to who might have inspired me to want to write in the first place. But my initial interest was in writing for film, so my early influences are probably screenwriters. From there I gravitated to prose. It’s not very original but Raymond Chandler would be number one with a bullet on my list. I always liked film noir and mystery-suspense-thriller movies. And, of course, I’d seen The Big Sleep with Bogart many times. So eventually I got around to reading the book it was based on. From there I dove into more Chandler. The same thing happened with another Bogart movie: I’d seen Dark Passage several times and finally decided to check out the book it was based on. That turned me onto David Goodis. My favorite of his is Down There, a.k.a. Shoot the Piano Player. I really dig that book, but for me the movie disappoints.



MMO: Give aspiring writers some brief advice.

Paul: Don’t give up. Keep writing, you will become a better writer through experience and practice. Don’t give in to writers block, just sit down and write, regardless of what comes out. Fix it later. And don’t make excuses about why you don’t have time to write. I know a lot of people who say they’re writers or want to be…but they don’t write anything or they write very little. It’s not easy, but a writer is someone who has to write and can’t live without it.

MMO: Tell me when I can expect the next Duke Rogers book.

Paul: Oh, the long and winding road and tale of woe that is Broken Windows, the sequel to White Heat. Broken Windows was tied up with an agent for a long, long time. Unfortunately, she never did anything with it, never sent it out. I think she’d gotten sick and it sort of languished. I’ve got it back now and it’s done, so hopefully it’ll be out before the next millennium.


MMO: Plug/pimp your next writing project.

Paul: Lots of stuff coming up. My story “Deserted Cites of the Heart” comes out in Akashic’s St. Louis Noir anthology on August 2nd. Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea, which I co-edited, is the second book in the Coast to Coast anthology series and should hopefully be out by the end of the year. And one of the stories in the first volume is up for a Shamus Award this year. I’ll have a short story in volume 2, as well as it being filled with great stories by a bunch of great writers. I’ll have stories out in both Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazines, though they’re not scheduled yet so I can’t give you dates. And, of course, I’m working on a couple of novels. Not Duke Rogers stories, but standalones. Some good stuff, I think, but I’m not ready to say exactly what they are just yet. My plate’s always full, but sometimes I’m just too busy to get to some of the things on it. I guess I need to go back to my answer about writers needing to write – I need to take my own advice on that.

Thanks for having me, Max. It’s been a blast.

Paul D. Marks photo

Author Bio

Paul D. Marks is the author of the Shamus Award-Winning mystery-thriller White Heat. Publishers Weekly calls White Heat a “taut crime yarn.” And Midwest Book Review says “White Heat is a riveting read of mystery, much recommended.” His story Howling at the Moon is short listed for both this year’s (2015) Anthony Award and Macavity Award for Best Short Story. It was published in the November 2014 issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and came in #7 in their Reader’s Poll Award. And he just sold another story, Ghosts of Bunker Hill, to Ellery Queen (publication date to be announced later). His story Fade Out will be in an upcoming Akashic’s Mondays Are Murder in August. And his latest noir-thriller, Vortex, will be out in early summer, 2015. He is the co-editor of the anthology Coast to Coast: Murder from Sea to Shining Sea, coming in 2015 from Down and Out Books. Paul is also the author of over thirty published short stories in a variety of genres, including several award winners. Five of his stories can be found in the collection LA Late @ Night. According to Steven Bingen, author of MGM: Hollywood’s Greatest Backlot, he [Paul] has the distinction, dubious though it might be, of being the last person to have shot a film on the fabled MGM backlot before it bit the dust to make way for condos.




To Market, To Market


Today’s blog will be short and sweet—stop that cheering—I can hear you!

There used to be a saying that “writers write, that’s what they do.” It was true at one time. Back in the days of the big however many houses when author marketing was largely handled by the publicity and/or marketing departments of the author’s house. Back in the day, the marketing department arranged the publicity, bought the ads and air time, sold the books not only to bookstores (there were a lot of them pre- ereaders), but to book clubs and book of the month style clubs. A well-known writer’s book (and even books of lesser known writers) were splashed everywhere. At least for a few months. Alas, no more.

Yes, there are still big houses—I think we are down to four, although it may be three. Hard to keep track. And to some extent they do some support publicity for their authors. Not too much for the most part, unless you are really famous, but they make sure the books are available at venues and often will punch up posters and flyers. Some still take ads in trade mags and newspapers. More often than not, even the big houses act as advisers, and the author is left to figure out the marketing thing by her/himself. The same is true of the small presses. They do what they can, and often do more than the big houses, but still, the onus is on the writer. And therein lies the rub.

Every writer I know (and I know a few) would much rather sit in their cave and grind out the words. That does not sell books. Those of us who thought all we had to do was write a good book and readers would beat a path to our doors begging for the next one, (can you see my hand waving), quickly discovered the error of our ways. Instead we learned the benefits of Facebook, how to work our author pages, got up close and friendly with Canva and learned to make our own ads (still learning) and of course, we tweeted our hearts out. It’s all about staying connected, with our publisher, agent, editor, other authors (who swap information on what they’ve found to work because we are all in this together) and with the readers.

The readers are the lifeblood of any author’s marketing endeavors. Reaching, interacting, meeting, greeting, learning about your readers. It’s what sells books, yes. But it’s something more than that. It’s humanity in action. We write to gain a readership. What better way to do that then to meet the readers? Either on social media, or as the expression goes, F2F. Marketing is time consuming. It’s the reader interaction that makes it worthwhile. When the author cares about her audience, it shows. And it makes the marketing treadmill all worthwhile.

What about you, writers? Do you like or hate the marketing blitzkrieg of modern writing?

Readers, do you like meeting the authors, in person or cyberwise or do you wish we would all go away and write more books?

Kait loves to hear from fans, check out her website at www.kaitcarson.com; follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kaitcarsonauthor, on twitter at @kaitcarson, or e-mail her at kait.carson@gmail.com.




Calling all Guest Posters!



Our own Max Everhart is taking a few weeks off for personal reasons. Therefore, we at Motive Means Opportunity need YOU to fill in with Friday guest posts until Max returns.

We’re looking for posts dealing with ANYTHING relating to the mystery/crime/thriller/suspense genres. You get the picture–whether you are an author, or not-yet-published writer, reader, or lover of the genres, WE WANT YOU!

An article about any topic dealing with the above genres is welcome. Five hundred to a thousand words–more or less–is fine (we’re not picky with word counts). Send your posts to:

kim.striker.author@gmail.com   or   emhelms63@yahoo.com

and we’ll take care of the rest! Simply copy/paste your entry into the body of an email, or send as a word.doc attachment. Sorry, there’s no payment involved, but you WILL have your byline and will be welcome to use your post for other venues (with crediting MMO as the original publisher).




So, how easy is that! You’re welcome to submit how-to articles, whatever articles (dealing with the aforementioned genres), or even short stories or sample portions of your current work-in-progress. We at Motive Means Opportunity will give you full credit for your post, and will be happy to include your photo, proposed cover, web links, or most anything (within limits) to promote your work.




So, fire away–we look forward to your submissions!

Desert Waste: A Short-short Noir

The phone call jingled me out of the first decent dream I’d had in months. Instead of grappling with Japs in the stinking, maggot infested mud of Okinawa I was twisting the sheets with the new redheaded doll that waited my table at Joella’s Diner last night. And this dish was a helluva lot tastier than Joella’s chicken-fried steak and gravy special. The phone rang again. Red took a powder, vanishing and leaving me twisted and sweating in the rack all by my lonesome. I wormed out of the damp sheets and sat on the side of the rollaway bed. Five forty-two according to the clock on the stand ticking away my life second by second. I grabbed the receiver and grunted, “This better be good.”


“Dinger, what’s your lazy ass still doing in bed at this ungodly hour of the morning?”


“I was nailing a beautiful redhead, if you gotta know, Kroeger. Like I said, this better be good.”


“Give the sweet darlin’ my apologies. But I think you might be interested in what we got out here.”


“The dame already took a hike. What’ve you got, Kroeg . . . ? Out where? This better be damn good.”


“Crank up that Ford of yours, if it’s still running. Come on down the Boulder highway, about three miles before the town limits. I think you’ll wanna see this for yourself.”

ford-custom-deluxe-convertible-coupe.2000x1331.Jun-05-2012_15.15.58.760529 (1)

I was there is forty minutes. Kroeger’s cruiser and a couple more city and county cars were stacked along the right side of the highway. The crowd was mingling on the left. I lit a cigarette, checked left and right, and crossed the road. Flashbulbs where popping where a small group of cops and their legal associates were gathered maybe thirty yards off the pavement. I saw Kroeger’s balding head near the center of the group and headed for it. The small crowd parted for me like the Red Sea as I approached. A couple of the Clark County coroner’s flunkies were still snapping away when I arrived.


“What’ve you got Kroeg?” I said as the big former Army First Sergeant approached.


He stopped a couple feet away and stared me down. “You had breakfast yet, Dinger?”


I told him no, which seemed to please him. “This ain’t pretty, ain’t pretty at all. I think you might know the victim.”


I drew in a deep breath and steeled myself. Since Peleliu and Okinawa, it took a lot to shake my shit. But I knew if Kroeger had something, it must be something I wanted no part of.


He waved for me to follow, and I took several tentative steps in his tracks. Kroeger halted just at the edge of a gentle sloping drop-off from the main trail. “It’s over here, Dinger.” He pointed. “A few feet down the ridge.”

I quickly made up the short distance I’d been lagging behind. Peering over the slope I saw the outline of a body covered with a sheet. I eased past the Las Vegas PD lieutenant and stopped short of the body. Flies were buzzing around in the July heat. Several were crawling at the edges of the sheet which was stained with the blood of whoever was underneath. I could make out the heads and tails of the victim, but I was in no hurry to touch anything.

body under sheet

“Go ahead, take a look. The camera boys are done; got all they need,” Kroeger said, fanning himself and shooing away flies with his sweat-stained Fedora.

I took a breath, bent over and lifted the edge of the sheet off what I figured was the head of the victim. My stomach lurched. Despite the throat being cut from ear to ear, and the once beautiful face crushed in by what looked to be the work of a sledge hammer, I knew who it was. The tiny tell-tale mole on the upper full left breast said it all—Sara Levitz, former showgirl with the Desert Sands. She had come to me a couple months ago, begging me to get her away from the clutches of Bernie Bonomo, one of the heavies at the Sands who kept the employees in line. Bernie “Bones” wasn’t your typical Boy Scout. He had a reputation for keeping the dancing girls corralled and obedient, never backing away from using the proverbial bullwhip to teach the young cows a lesson in not straying from the herd. This time he’d gone overboard with young Sara.


“Recognize her, Dinger?” Kroeger said as I let the sheet drop over what once upon a time had been the face of a princess. A face I had adored, even loved. But our short-lived affair had ended with Sara handing me back the bus ticket to Indianapolis I’d bought for her, with the promise I’d meet her there in a couple weeks after I’d taken care of business to insure nobody would trace us down. The bright lights and allure of Hollywood beckoned, she’d told me. Bones had promised to back off—at what cost I could only imagine. And now . . . this.

“Nah, don’t think so,” I said. “Looks like the kid had a little disagreement with whoever she was working for.”

“C’mon, Digger. Ain’t that the broad you were helping get away from the Sands a few months back?”

vegas showgirl

I stood up and turned to face Lieutenant Kroeger, LVPD. “No Kroeg, you know them showgirls all start looking alike after awhile. Sorry I couldn’t make this an easy wrap for you.”

Two weeks later I had what I needed. Bernie Bonomo had the use of one of the Sands’ three hundred rooms when they weren’t booked full. I’d staked him out enough nights to know his routine: bullshit one of the new girls with promises he couldn’t keep, take the young dumpling back to his room, and enjoy. It sickened me to know that Sara had followed Bones’ same routine with lights of Hollywood stardom flashing in her pretty blue eyes.

man and woman

I waited until 3 a.m. when Bernie and a blonde who looked like she might pass for eighteen entered the room and shut the door behind them. After thirty minutes or so, the lights went out. A little after five I made my move. The Sands was a ritzy place, but they weren’t particular when it came to door security. Basic, inexpensive hardware for their doors. It took all of ten seconds to pick the lock. Maybe it was his impatience to get to his new meat, but Bernie hadn’t even bothered with the chain lock on the door. I eased it open and flipped on the lights.


“What the fu—!” were the last words that foul mouth uttered. My first round entered precisely through Bernie’s forehead, almost dead center an inch above his panic-stricken eyes. That was enough, but I walked over and placed a coup de grâce through his hairy-covered heart just for emphasis. Blondie, good girl as she proved to be, was too terrified to even scream. I pulled a couple of C-notes from my coat pocket and told her to get the hell out of Vegas as soon as she could—meaning that morning. As far as I know, she complied.


Yeah, Kroeger and his cohorts came calling later that morning. Me? I didn’t know a damn thing they were talking about. The murder weapon, a .38 snub-nose with the numbers filed off, would never be traced even if the piece was ever found, which had less than the proverbial snowball’s chance in hell.

That night I rolled out my bed and slept the sleep of those who’ve never had shit interfere with their perfect lives. Who knew what the morrow would bring? But tonight, I reveled in the dream world of the innocent.


Until the redheaded waitress from Joella’s Diner crawled in the sheets with me.




Writers are a superstitious lot. There’s no getting around it. We’re the ones in the restaurant tossing the spilled salt over our shoulder without a second glance. As a group we seem to think that our rituals will ensure our success. Not financially, but something even better than that. Success at pouring out the words. Something to make a bleh writing day a bright writing day.

Ernest Hemingway wrote each morning just after dawn and continued until he came to a place where he knew what would happen next. Then he stopped and tried to make it Weite Drunkthrough the rest of the day. His early morning start time makes one wonder about the truth of his allegedly voracious appetite for drink. But then, maybe that’s why he stopped when he knew what was coming next the buzz was wearing off. His writing advice did include the quote “write drunk, edit sober.”

Kurt Vonnegut was another early riser. His workday began at 5:30, he stopped for breakfast and then pushed on until 10 when he went for a walk and started his day job. Vonnegut had a DAY job. Impressive.

It is said that Stephen King begins his writing day with a slice of cheesecake. Why do I think King’s tongue was firmly in his cheek when he told that to an interviewer? Maybe because Bangor, Maine, for all that it’s a lovely place, is not exactly known for its cheesecake. Now a Whoopie pie, okay, I could believe that.

At the other end of the foodie spectrum is Joyce Carol Oates. No morsel of food touches her lips until she’s finished writing for the day. This particular interviewer didn’t specify her rising time, but Oates does say that on good writing days (thank you for admitting you have some not to good ones too) she doesn’t get breakfast until 2 or 3 in the afternoon.

Not Writing
Not writing


As for myself, I can’t write if I have “stuff” on my desk. I can Facebook, read blogs, comment on blogs, and of course, tweet and e-mail. Ask me to write-nope. All the creativity in my brain is sucked out by the piles of papers and notebooks. So, before I settle in for a good writing session, all the “junk” hits the floor. Not too far away, just beside my chair. Then I’ve got it handy for reference, but it’s no longer a distraction.

Pretty tame stuff. I think I shall take up having a glass of sherry before I write. Something with a little class. You know, in a Waterford sherry glass. Does it get any better than that? Oh, wait, I’m not famous, sigh – gotta go clean off the desk. Garçon!Waterford sherry

Readers and writers-what’s your ritual and when does it call you?



My Writing Story in One Word

By Max Everhart (originally published on Suite T, August 1, 2014)

I first began writing seriously about nine years ago when I was working on a Master’s degree in English, and almost every day between then and now, I’ve received and read literally hundreds, perhaps thousands of tips on being a successful writer.

And almost all of them were good.


But the best advice I ever read was from the novelist Richard Bach: “A professional writer is an amateur writer who didn’t quit.”



Perseverance, in my opinion, is the most important quality a writer can possess. Perseverance is the ultimate trump card, and it’s far more important than talent or luck or even connections in the publishing world, although all of those are wonderful and certainly helpful.  But perseverance is what is going to get a writer to sit down and write.  Everyday.  No matter what.

Perseverance, it ain’t sexy, but it’s powerful, especially if you are one of the chosen ones who have talent.

And here’s the best part: you’re not born with perseverance; it can be learned and developed.  The only real question you should ever ask yourself is, “How hard am I willing to work to become a successful writer?”  

go go gato
Mystery/private eye

Which brings me to my debut novel Go Go Gato I did some calculations and figured out that by the time a publisher accepted that book in October of 2013, I’d already written roughly 300,000 words of fiction, which didn’t include the four or five stories that had been published in small journals and literary magazines. (Note: I made no money on these stories).  However, the 300,000 words did include twenty or so unpublished short stories and one full-length novel that my wife, God bless her, correctly concluded was “not good at all.”

Now, all those rejections I received from editors, agents, publishers, and even my wife were painful, but the pain was useful.  It was instructive.  Those rejections forced me to dig deeper, and I came to a sobering conclusion: I wasn’t good enough, yet.  Those editors, agents, publishers, and yes, my wife, they were right to reject my work.  Just as I was right to work harder at my craft, to keep sending my best possible work out into the world, and now, on August 1st, my dream of being a published novelist will come true.  Only took nine years.  But it was worth it.

bottom line

Bottom line, we spend time on the things we value most, so if you want to be a successful writer, work hard, harder, hardest.

In a word: persevere.

Max enjoys hearing from fans and critics, so find him on the Internet. Just Google his name.