Friday, December 23, 2011

Frank, Incense and Muriel

 by Jean Henry Mead

When two former high school antagonists are thrown together in a mysterious setting the week before Christmas, you have the ingredients for romantic suspense, if they’re both attractive members of the opposite sex. Author Anne K. Albert skillfully weaves a story of surprise and deceit when Frankie Salerno, a former classmate shows up on Muriel  Reeve’s doorstep years later and is still calling her Brian. Because of her intelligence, he originally called her “brain,” but a teacher intercepted a note he sent to Muriel when he misspelled her nickname.

Now a dyslexic private investigator, he enlists her help in finding a missing former classmate. And the classmate is not someone Muriel likes so she requires some persuasion. However, when she learns who hired Frankie to investigate, someone she does consider a friend, Muriel decides to aid in the investigation, which nearly gets her killed.

Muriel’s Aunt Val, a quirky character who is constantly baking cookies for the twelve days of Christmas, enters the plot with her crotch-sniffing dog, Big Boy. When Aunt Val is sideswiped while driving Muriel’s car and winds up in the hospital, they wonder if Muriel is the intended victim.
Interviewing the missing woman’s neighbors provides more humor and additional mystery as Frankie and Muriel gather evidence and place themselves in danger.

Muriel realizes that she’s still attracted to Frankie from their high school days but keeps him at arm’s length as he tries to charm her. The plot is filled with intrigue and humor as the pair continues their search for the missing woman.  The book is well-paced and the characters well defined. I recommend Albert’s novel to anyone who loves a good mystery laced with a little romance and humor. My kind of book.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Reading Christmas Books by Christine Duncan

Unlike my blogmate, Mark Troy, I like to read books that are written about Christmas. I don't really care about the mystery, if that's what I'm doing. I just need to get in the spirit and reading is one way I do it.

So what if I figured out the ending of Anne Perry's A Christmas Journey well before the end of the book or if I don't usually read books involving animals like A Cat under the Mistletoe by Lydia Adamson? They got me back in the Christmas mood and I read them on purpose to do that.

I also read books about some place I'm traveling to or places that I miss and can't travel to right now. Different strokes, I guess.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Game Face is here!

Game Face, my collection of Val Lyon short stories, is, at last, available for purchase in ebook or trade paperback. The trade paperback can be ordered from the Create Space estore and soon from Amazon and other stores. (As of this writing, it was in the Amazon pipeline.) The Kindle version can be ordered from the Kindle Store. The iPad, Nook, Kobo, and other ebook formats can be ordered from Smashwords.

This collection contains all of the previously published Val Lyon stories spanning more than a decade of publication. The first story, Drop Dead Zone, was published in Mystery Buff Magazine in 1998 and the most recent, Horns, was published in The Thrilling Detective in 2009. Most of the stories have recently been published in ebook for 99¢ each, so readers can buy the stories separately or, they can get the whole set for the same price as three stories.

As these stories had been previously published, I wanted readers who purchase the collection to receive some added value that cannot be had by purchasing the individual stories or by going back to the original publication. Therefore, this collection contains one original, never-before-published story, Ripper. The collection also contains a foreword that tells how some of the stories came about. As a final bonus, I introduce each story with the cover that was attached to the ebook version. The front cover and the interior art were all done by David Shackelford of Austin.

Mark Troy
Hawaiian Eye Blog

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

So, What Cons are You Going to Next Year?

As for me, I'm planning on attending three.

Mid-March I'm headed to San Antonio for Epicon. My romance with a touch of the supernatural, Lingering Spirit is a finalist for an Eppie. We went to San Antonio once before and loved it.

At the end of March, Sacramento is the destination for Left Coast Crime. Despite the fact that we are flying to San Antonio, we'd kind of decided not to go to any more conferences unless they were close by. Sacramento if plenty close.

In July, we'll be driving to Vegas for the Public Safety Writers Association.Public Safety Writers Associaton

This is my favorite conference of all. This is the place to get acquainted with all the experts: FBI, police, forensic, fire, casino security, airplane security, etc. It's a small conference with one track, so you really do have a chance to network--some are speakers, but they are all here for the conference.

This year we'll have a crime scene developed by a retired cop and a forensic expert--everyone will have a chance to figure it out. You can test your skills against the professionals.

So what have you got planned for 2012?


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Finding time to write in 2012

It can be tough, of course. You’re raising a family, working overtime at the office, traveling on business, doing chores, running errands, changing diapers, carting your children hither and yon—well, maybe not all of those at the same time, but you get the idea. Where can you find the time to write?

Try writing in short bursts if you can’t cobble together longer stretches of time. Children’s nap time might be enough to get in a few paragraphs. If you’re waiting in a doctor’s office or taking a break at work, you at least have a few minutes to think about your novel and how to handle the scene you’re working on. Jot those thoughts down before they’re gone. Back in pre-computer days, I used to write notes and stuff them into my shirt pocket, but now it’s usually possible to send myself an email or write an electronic note on my iPhone. My friend Patty worked in a bank and raised four daughters, so she got out of bed in the wee hours every day so she could write in peace. Goodness knows she has more energy than I ever did, but she made time in her own way.  But any quiet time, however brief, is time you can be either writing a few sentences or thinking through a plot problem. I suggest you not agonize over your first draft. Just get the story written, and address the problems later. To paraphrase various writing gurus, give yourself permission to write junk. It’s okay, because your first draft should be for your eyes only.

Can you do it? Of course you can. All you need is to write a page a day, and you’ve finished a draft in less than a year.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and follow my own advice.

Bob Sanchez is the author of Little Mountain and two other novels, available at They each took longer than a year to write, but he is getting better.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Miracle on Union Street

By Chester Campbell

I saw The Miracle on 34th Street in the TV listings and got to thinking about something almost as miraculous I was involved in at this time forty-nine years ago. We were putting the final touches on the "Premier Issue" of Nashville Magazine, the city's first slick-paper monthly. Since our office was located on Union Street in downtown Nashville, I chose the above title for this piece of nostalgia.

At right is the cover of that issue. That it continued to appear monthly under my direction for six years and three months is certainly worthy of the miracle designation. I had worked as a newspaper reporter for nine years, sandwiched around a sojourn in Korea for the north-south unpleasantness, put in a short time free-lancing for national magazines, then spent two years at a PR agency. When I was "downsized" there, I lucked into a job with the State of Tennessee. That was late summer of 1962. I was told my job would be short-lived as the governor was leaving office at the end of the year. I was hired to write speeches for the governor, and my boss said as long as I got the speeches done, he didn't care what I did the rest of the time.

This sounded ideal as I had come up with the idea of starting a local magazine. Impressed by the highly-successful Atlanta Magazine, published by the Chamber of Commerce, I visited with the editor and learned what all was involved. Unsuccessful at getting the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce to sponsor my project, I decided to pursue it on my own. I was thirty-seven at the time, full of you-know-what and vinegar. I approached the former secretary at the PR agency, and she agreed to join me in m.c. publications, inc. (for Mikie and Chester). We each put up $500, and that was our capitalization. Needless to say, this is not what I was told would be required.

I was referred to a graphic artist at the Methodist Publishing House who agreed to be art director. Since we had decided on a January launch, I needed to put things together in a hurry. Although the Chamber declined to help monetarily, a few prominent members assisted me with recommendations. I've never considered myself much of a salesman, but in retrospect, I must have done a helluva job getting the magazine in print.

I traded advertising for a lot of the necessary services. I found a printer who agreed to be paid after the second issue came out (he also took an ad). My art director was friends with a three-man art studio that did a lot of gratis artwork (one of them painted the downtown view for the cover). An engraver took an ad to cover most of our halftones, and I did an article on a young guy who ran an electronic data service (this was in the days of punch cards). He handled our mailing labels. I also provided an ad for a photographer.

I paid nothing for articles, but called on several friends from my newspaper days to write for me. They were happy to help the magazine get started and found the new venture a unique opportunity. I had worked for the Nashville Banner and talked its sports editor into contributing an article on the city's minor league hockey team, the Dixie Flyers. Fred Russell was a regular contributor to The Saturday Evening Post and wrote its annual Pigskin Preview. I wrote much of that issue, as I did for each subsequent edition.

Subscriptions brought in a small amount of income, but the lifeblood of a magazine is advertising. I had to go after it myself. I convinced a couple of ad agencies to support the new venture, despite lack of a track record. One of them bought the full-color back cover. I also got full pages from the local electric service, the gas company, and a new luxury apartment project. A friend from my Air Guard unit bought an add for his import auto dealership, and the data service guy helped me get a half page from his father-in-law, owner of a finance company. I also wangled an ad out of the savings and loan association that owned our building.

I wound up with seven and two-thirds pages of advertising in that first issue, or a little more than 17 percent of its forty-four pages. Hardly in the ballpark for a break-even operation. It provided the start of many years of running hard to placate our creditors. After a couple of issues, I found an advertising manager and relinquished that part of the business. By the end of 1963, our forty-four-page issue had fourteen and one-half pages of advertising for a much improved 33 percent.

I had a great time with the magazine, despite fifteen-hour days. I came up with lots of great stories to cover myself, in addition to assigning many others. I ran some of my poetry anonymously. We published a few short stories by well-known local authors, without payment. But our circulation never got much beyond 10,000, and advertising was always a hard sell. We were about ten years ahead of our time. When our unpaid accounts got too far out of hand after five years, I turned to a good friend who was head of PR for Life & Casualty Insurance Company, one of Nashville's two large insurers. He talked the head of the company, wealthy former Ambassador Guilford Dudley, into bailing us out. We moved into offices on the twentieth floor of the L&C Tower and had money to pay contributors. But they put a guy over me as manager that I couldn't abide, so after a few months I resigned. The new management didn't fare too well, and the insurance company dropped the magazine in less than a year.

But forty-nine years ago, I was as excited as a kid with a new toy. I was ready to make a miracle happen. And I did.

Visit me at Mystery Mania

Shorts Stories by Earl Staggs

by Jean Henry Mead

Earl Staggs knows his stuff when it comes to short story writing. His collection is not only entertaining, it grabs you and doesn’t let go until you reach the conclusion and take a peek at the next story.  It’s like the former Lay’s potato chip commercial. You can’t just read one of Earl’s stories at one sitting. You’re compelled to read just one more and then another. They run the gambit of humor to crime and my favorite of Earl’s well- drawn characters, Sheriff Molly, outwits crooks and lays down the law in her own patient way.
My favorite of the Sheriff Molly stories is when she encounters Henry Lee, a naked young man standing on the roof of a two-story building, posed to jump to his death. Convincing him that he will only break his legs if he jumps, she manages to talk him down after learning what prompted him to disrobe and contemplate suicide. The author writes convincingly with humor and acquired southern charm which will keep you smiling.
If you’re looking for a great read, I highly recommend the award-winning author’s fictional adventures into the realm of mystery, where good always triumps over evil or at least takes a good run at it. I like Earl’s characters, which he brings to life with just enough description to make them believable. And the settings are varied enough to keep you turning pages.
Short Stories by Earl Staggs will make a great Christmas gift for busy people who have little time to read, although once they start, they’ll make time to keep reading.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Recharging can be really hard, but it’s essential for a writer, or any creative type for that matter. This time of year can be a particular challenge with all the social and family obligations and fun. Add in the extra time (depending on where you live, of course – envious stares directed at those in warm climes LOL) for vehicle cleaning and warming every time you want to go out, all the winter woolies and boots that have to be put on and taken off for each outing. And that’s not even considering regular snow removal from sidewalks, driveways and walkways.

For those writers who use retail therapy as a relaxation technique, even that can be a risky experiment right now. All those frantic men in malls! Some are kind of like the contestants on Survivor in the first couple of weeks – finding themselves in unfamiliar territory, sure they must accomplish something, but not sure how to get it accomplished in time, or who to trust! It does, however, provide some great people watching opportunities, assuming you can find an empty bench.

A quiet evening at home can also help revitalize those storytelling batteries, presuming you can relax with that To-Do list flashing neon headings at you as you try to sink into your favorite chair with a cup of hot chocolate.

All this is supposing you don’t have any deadlines looming, no galleys to review, no edits to look at…

Please share what you do to get those stories flowing when it’s so busy you barely have time to catch your breath, let alone set aside a few hours of writing time!

Libby McKinmer
Romance with an edge

Monday, December 12, 2011

Make It Legal by Morgan Mandel

A word to the wise author -
Take the extra time to make everything legal. I self-published Killer Career, but before doing so, I registered my publishing company, Choice One Publishing Co. with the Cook County Clerk of the State of Illinois.

I also applied for and obtained a trademark from the Secretary of State of Illinois for the use of my pen name, Morgan Mandel.

When I requested the rights back for my backlist books from Mundania Press, I sent and kept a copy of the certified letter requesting the reversion of my rights.

I contacted Mundania and told them I needed written confirmation and received an email verifying I had my rights back.

To busy authors, this may seem like nitpicking,  but it could save you grief in the longrun. Saturday, I received an inquiry from Amazon about my publishing rights for Two Wrongs, which I'm in the process of getting up on Kindle. After rummaging around today, I found copies of all of my documentation and sent it along to Amazon. Hopefully, they'll be quick about clearing this up, since I'd hoped to have this book back in circulation by now under my own auspices at the reduced 99 cents price on Kindle.

Okay, now that I'm through bragging about having all this stuff to at my disposal, I must confess it took a little while to find it. Not as long as I'd thought it would, though. I was lucky this time. I do save a lot of things, and not all of those things come in handy when I need them.

What about you? Are you legal? Have you run into any roadblocks where you had to provide some sort of legal proof?

Morgan Mandel

Morgan Mandel's Books -
Killer Career - 99 cents Kindle, Smashwords
Girl of My Dreams - 99 cents Kindle and Smashwords
Two Wrongs - 99 cents Smashwords, Kindle to follow when
Amazon sorts this out.
Forever Young: Blessing or Curse - Coming very, very soon to
Kindle & Smashwords for $2.99, I promise

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Murder for Christmas

It's that magical time of year when children dream of Santa and writers realize it's too late to send a Christmas mystery story to that anthology or magazine that had issued a call back in May.

I'm going to sound humbuggy on this, but I don't like Christmas mysteries, or any seasonal mystery for that matter. Which isn't to say I don't like stories that are set around Christmas.

This weekend I was in one of our closets pulling out the Christmas decorations and I found an anthology called Murder for Christmas that someone had given me twenty years ago. It's a big volume of Christmas-themed mystery stories. I remember reading a few stories when I got it and then putting it aside because Christmas had passed.

And that's the point. Why read a Christmas story after Christmas? It's like a Santa train set or a book of yuletide recipes. No matter how much you like trains or how much you like cooking neither the Santa train nor the figgy pudding recipe make sense after the season.

So it was with this anthology. There was only one memorable story in it and that one was, ironically, the one story that was not Christmas-themed. The story was called "Mr. Big" and it was written by Woody Allen. It's a good story, written in Woody Allen's distinctive voice, but not what you would call a Christmas story. It qualified for the anthology by virtue of one of the clues—a racehorse named Santa Baby.

As I said, I don't have a problem with stories set at Christmas, but I pass on what I call tinsel stories. Stories with no substance but which use some aspect of Christmas as an excuse. You can usually spot them by the title. (These titles are my own invention, any resemblance to real stories is a shame.)

  • "The Christmas Card Murders." (Pass!) 
  • "Death by Eggnog." (No way!)
  • "Slay Bells Ring." (Not for me!)
  • "Gold, Frankincense and Murder." (Heaven forbid!)

I believe a good story is worth reading or viewing at any time, not just during the season. Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life should be viewed throughout the year, not just at Christmas, because it's not a Christmas story. It's about a man discovering himself, about the sacrifices he makes. And it's about good versus evil, despair and redemption. There's no murder, but it's as hardboiled as any story. Is there anybody more evil than Potter? The Christmas part is only the last quarter of the film. Too bad the movie has been hijacked by the season.

My vote for great Christmas story which stands the test of time and which can be read (or viewed if you prefer) all year round is Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man. The story begins in a speakeasy the day before Christmas with two of the most engaging sleuths in literature, Nick and Nora Charles.
Nora said, "She's pretty."
"If you like them like that."
She grinned at me. "You got types?"
"Only you, darling—lanky brunettes with wicked jaws."
If you want cute for Christmas, there's Asta the schnauzer who knocks over a table of toys at Lord and Taylor's.

You want Christmas mayhem? How about the scene in the movie where Nick, nursing a hangover, uses a rubber band and paper clips to shoot ornaments off the tree. Or the scene where Nick knocks out Nora while trying to keep her from being shot by Morelli. After Nick revives her, Nora says, "You damned fool! You didn't have to knock me cold. I knew you'd take him, but I wanted to see it." To which the police lieutenant says, "There's a girl with hair on her chest."

If it's holiday excess you're looking for, The Thin Man has that too. When a reporter asks Nora what case Nick is working on, she says, "A case of Scotch. Pitch in and help him."

Afraid this story is another sappy Christmas story? Then wait for it, the best Christmas sentiment in all mysterydom, uttered by the inimitable Nora:
"The next person who says Merry Christmas to me, I'll kill 'em."
That's how I like my murder for Christmas. Lanky brunettes, guys with guns, and six martinis lined up on the bar. A Christmas toast—make that six—to the best Christmas mystery story ever. Hammett published The Thin Man 78 years ago and it's still as fresh as Wonderful Life and fresher than most stories that try to cash in on the season but which are staler than day-old gingerbread.

So do you have a favorite Christmas mystery, one that you enjoy even in July?

Mark Troy
Hawaiian Eye Blog
Check out my ebooks in the iBook, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony and Smashwords stores.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Magical Mystery Tour

For the past week and a half I've been with 14 mystery authors on a 14 day virtual book tour. Each of the writers asked for something different from a list of questions, an interviews, their take on a special subject, a certain page out of their book, plus the usual photos, book cover(s), blurbs and bios.

I asked each one to write something about setting. It was great fun to see the different looks at setting through their minds. You can check it out at and scroll down to read them all if you're so inclined.

Today, I'll be visiting Timothy Hallinan

Though it's been a lot of work, it's also been fun and I've seen a definite drop in my numbers on Amazon so it looks like it might be working.

The writers who are participating are: Beth Anderson, Ron Benrey, Pat Browning, John M. Daniel, Alice Duncan, Wendy Gager, M. M. Gornell, Timothy Hallinan, Jackie King, Jean Henry Mead, Mike Orenduff, Jinx Schwartz, Earl Staggs, Anne K. Albert (who instigated this madness), and of course, me.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Please Welcome Mystery Author, Frank Scully

Frank Scully was born at the end of World War II and grew up in a small town in North Dakota. He remembers a time when radio provided the entertainment and then along came TV with very few channels. While in college getting a Bachelor’s degree in History and a Juris Doctor in Law, TV graduated to color, the Beatles landed on the Ed Sullivan Show, Kennedy was assassinated, and Armstrong walked on the moon. He served in the U.S. Army as a Judge Advocate General Corps officer in the U.S., Vietnam and Thailand before getting his Masters in Business Administration from the Thunderbird School and embarking on a business career. Currently he is a Contracts Manager for a major aerospace and defense manufacturer and an author of a mystery series.

His current book, EMPTY TIME, is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and other online eBook retailers as well as the publisher’s bookstore

What it's about:
Jim Lang’s life sputtered into a workaholic rut on a middle rung of the corporate ladder while his colleagues, using his business plan, became the international business titans he once aspired to be.

Bad memories of busted marriages and broken promises are all that keep him company in his personal hours so he is more than willing to sacrifice that empty time to his job to make the corporation grow. His bosses have one more sacrifice in mind for him. To die for them.

Deceived, betrayed and framed for murder and massive stock fraud, his bosses plan for him to die and disappear. Disappear, he does; die, he doesn’t.

Lang must face and conquer his old fears and guilt, and live up to the potential within. To save the people he loves he must put his life on the line to turn the tables on his former colleagues in an inter-continental, multi-billion dollar, fast paced and lethal game of corporate intrigue and treachery with bloody traps and deadly counter traps.

Also available are RESURRECTION GARDEN and DEAD MAN’S GAMBIT. Coming soon is BLOOD SINS.

You can find more about Frank Scully's books at:

And now here's some great writing advice from Frank Scully:
Keep the reader turning pages -

Have you ever been reading a book, one you were enjoying with the movie you were producing from it running in your head, and all off a sudden something happens that breaks the whole thing down? The movie stops because the character does something so totally out of character, the narrator gags on something or the pace breaks down.

There you are, staring at the page, the movie projector in your head smoking from the broken reel, wondering what the &*^% you are going to do next. How could that character do that? Nothing in the story line or character development allowed for that. No human being you have ever known who was anything like that character had ever done anything like that. Is there any plot point that justifies what the character did? Can you forgive it and move on? Or is it too far out that you have lost interest in the character and the story?

Perhaps the author’s voice cracks and changes midstream and you go from masculine hard boiled to feminine cozy or something in between. All of a sudden the director of the movie in your head has changed.

Or maybe the pace has shifted or jerks suddenly. You were reading along comfortably enjoying the speed of the story that was unfolding. The movie in your head was running along just fine. Then you hit pages of data and description that bog you down like quicksand. Do you really care if the character is wearing a certain expensive brand of khakis along with an ensemble described in excruciating detail? Perhaps there is a sudden jerk and you are in an unannounced different time and place with seemingly no relation to the story you were reading.

Assuming an author takes care of the basics such as having a good plot, proper grammar, enticing title and cover, and a good hook to draw the reader in, there are certain elements that can make or break a mystery story for a reader. To me the three most important are character, voice and pace.

Character encompasses all of the actors in the book from the protagonist and antagonist and on down to the clerk who only appears on one page. Each needs to be believable and come alive in the mind of the reader. If they are not properly presented and fleshed out so the reader can imagine them, the story will suffer and the reader will get frustrated. At the same time you don’t want to provide too much description. The reader will fill in a lot of the details according to how they want the character to look just as they do for the background. It is impossible to detail every aspect of every background a character acts in front of. All the author needs to do is get the important and distinguishing elements and let the reader’s imagination do the rest.

But character is more than physical description. The actions and emotions and thoughts projected from and onto the character must “fit” like a good suit or the reader will not care, and if the reader doesn’t care about the character, the author risks losing the reader.

I believe very firmly that you must give the mystery reader a primary character that they can relate to and in some way have a desire to follow. There may be a niche for those books whose main character is a despicable, totally unlikeable blackard but it is a small one.

Pace also is important to a reader. As an author we invite readers along for a ride. We need to make it an enjoyable ride. Sometimes fast, scary and bumpy. Sometimes more sedate. The trick is to make sure we don’t jolt the reader out of the car on a fast hard bump or a quick turn or bore them to sleep down a gentle slope. Keep them turning pages with enjoyment and excitement. I’ve seen some masters of pace get by with little or no plot although that is not a good thing and can make the book forgettable soon after it is done.

And finally there is the author’s voice. What does the reader hear in how you tell the story? Is there gravel in your voice from hard miles over bad road? Or are you a young woman just getting started in the world on her own? Authors must find a voice that they want to tell that story with and be consistent with it for the primary narration. Just as a character should not all of a sudden develop multiple personalities, neither should the author.

As with all “rules” there are authors who have broken all of the above and still been very successful. But I, as a reader, have dropped many books that started out well only to lose me for these reasons and now I avoid those authors for fear I will run into another “busted” read.

I work hard to ensure that I follow my own rules carefully and keep the reader engaged and turning the pages.

Frank Scully

Please leave a comment below to welcome Frank to Make Mine Mystery.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Learning from the pros

Have you ever read a mystery and said to yourself, “Wow! I wish I could write like that”? Or maybe you mumble “Heck, I write this well. How come they’re published and I’m not”? That question is a toughie, of course. Most of us realize that there are lots of reasons novels don’t get published, and this post won’t get into them.

Let’s look at that mystery differently. First, finish reading it for pleasure. Then go back through it and take notes. Pick it apart. Why does it work, and what could be better? Mind you, it’s a chore, but do it with at least a couple of novels. Here are a few of the things to look for:

--What is the point of view? Is there more than one?
--How soon does the main character’s name appear?
--How soon does the crime appear?
--Is there a strong plot?
--What do you like or dislike about each character? Is each character distinctive in speech, appearance, or personality?
--How much dialogue is there compared to exposition?
--How often does the author tell instead of show, and does it work?
--Does the pace ever bog down? If so, how and where?
--Are the good guy and the bad guy evenly matched?
--Are there enough twists to keep you guessing?
--Did the story ultimately satisfy you? Why or why not?

Perhaps you have read a few books on writing, and you learned that passive voice is not to be used, that you must show and not tell, and that you must not mix points of view in the same chapter. And then you see that some famous writer has broken every “rule” you thought sacrosanct. Well, you won’t become a good writer simply by mechanically applying rules from a book. Understand them, sure. Then understand that they are really just guidelines that the pros either apply or ignore depending on the circumstances.
Once you take this hard look at a published novelist’s work, you can learn effective techniques for your own fiction. I think you will find it worth the effort.

Bob Sanchez has published three novels, available at