Writing 101: The Reboot

By Anne Stephenson

Other than a naively romantic notion that being a foreign correspondent would be cool, I had no plans to be a writer.  But when it came time to choose a university, typical teenager that I was, I went for the one furthest from home.

Journalism has served me well – or at least, kept me semi-employed for years while I dabbled in fiction, raised a family, and worked freelance.


And then, silly me, I retired.  Chucked it all in, moved to the country, and daydreamed about writing the great Canadian novel while my husband and I refurbished our 1860’s farmhouse.

But the muse does nag.  With impeccable timing.  In the interim, self-publishing had become legitimate, and there I was with a couple of manuscripts in the drawer and a backlist of traditionally-published short stories, feature articles and mysteries for kids.  I had “skin in the game.”

And one hell of a lot to learn.


Unfortunately, everything from social media and website design, to author branding and securing my publishing rights, kept me from what I really wanted to do!  So I put it all to one side, delved into the “archives,” and came up with the first draft of a short mystery I’d written a few years back.

I’d called it Bitter End.  A 3,000-word tale of revenge (my favourite motive) involving best friends and an errant husband with questionable…assets.  My guy loved it.  Buoyed by his support, I sent it to Mystery Weekly Magazine and they bought it.

It felt good.


But here’s the really interesting bit.  In early August, I received an email from an E. Michael Helms.  A bit of a detective is Michael.  He’d found a copy of Bitter End in his inbox (I swear it wasn’t me!), enjoyed it, noted the spelling as being either Canadian or British, and tracked me down via my website.

Sounds like “Dinger, PI” is in good hands!


A freelance writer and journalist, Anne Stephenson’s first crime fiction appeared in Cold Blood IV, a long-running anthology edited by Peter Sellers.  Her other credits include reviewing crime and mystery novels for The Ottawa Citizen, writing books for nine-to-12 year olds, and the odd bit of scriptwriting.

website-final-paper-treasure-cover                          somethings-fishy

Anne’s most recent releases are:  Paper Treasure, originally published by General Paperbacks; and Something’s Fishy at Ash Lake, written with long-time friend and co-author Susan Brown.  Both titles are available at: http://amzn.to/2hhd0Tb

In the meantime, the reboot continues at:  annestephensonwriter.com


7 thoughts on “Writing 101: The Reboot

  1. Sounds like Michael, feels like Michael and after Kait’s post cannot say it smells like Michael, only his dog (no offence) but it is always an inspiration to have another author give one an encouraging situation. It is late and i was just about to close down but I thought I would leave a small comment and tomorrow is another day. Dinger PI is going to be alive and well because he simply is. Best to
    Anne and all of us who work and write.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Welcome, Anne – what a great story! Who knew Mike and Dinger were so closely connected. Glad you found your way to Michael’s inbox! The farmhouse looks great. Would love to see after pix. Congratulations on the Mystery Weekly Magazine sale. Impressive that our neighbors to the north have a WEEKLY mystery magazine – are you listening lower 48?

    Look forward to more posts by you Anne.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We’ll call this the mystery of the inbox. Just kidding about Michael’s dog. I am reading his new volume of the Mac McClellan Mystery series called “Deadly Spirits” and Mac’s dog Henry has some, um, interesting responses to eating sausage and (really Michael) drinking a splash of beer. I had been reading it and it was just on my mind.
    Anne, revenge is a good motive for mysteries and I’m glad you have taken up writing again successfully along with remodeling. I think that once it is in your blood it never goes away. Thanks for the great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So, Henry stinks, huh? Well, he CAN raise the bedcovers at night. Okay, so Mac slips him food off the grill now and then, and an occasional snort of beer. Henry IS a Devil Dog, after all. But poor Mac is gonna pay for it later. Keep reading and you’ll find out. Hmm, no more spoilers. And I agree, revenge is a great motive for mysteries. There just might be a hint of that very thing in “Spirits.” But as I said, no more spoilers! 😉


  4. Very interesting journey to the world of fiction writing, Anne. And yes, Mac McClellan and I have a lot in common: former combat Marines (although once a Marine, ALWAYS a Marine!); babe magnets (hey, I wasn’t all that bad way “back in the day”); a sense of duty, honor, and Semper Fidelis (i.e., brainwashing during boot camp, but not bad values to instill); and of course, our sharp detective skills. Mac tracks down murderers, while I specialize in tracking down short stories that mysteriously appear in my inbox. Very glad I did, and oh my, BITTER END is a good one!
    Thanks for gracing our humble blog with your post. And please, hurry back soon! 🙂


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