Last week, I had the honor of meeting and speaking with two very exceptional writers.

As a member of the local California Writer’s Club, I attend monthly gatherings to network with other local writers and hear from a guest speaker who shares his/her experiences and advice.

Just over a week ago, we had special meeting. Because Victoria Zackheim and Anne Perry were in town.

Meeting Anne Perry & Victoria Zackheim

Meeting Anne Perry & Victoria Zackheim

Who are they, you ask? Just two of the best women writers on the market today. No, I’m not exaggerating. Victoria writes, edits, and teaches at UCLA. Anne’s books have sold over 30,000,000 worldwide. So no. I’m not exaggerating.

Y’all know I’m working on four books as we speak. I realize some people call this lunacy, but it works for me (the writing part. Not the crazy part. Well . . . maybe a little bit of that last one). Two are the compilation books, one is the fantasy and the last is NOLA.

A photo collage of online resources to inspire me while writing my story set in New Orleans, Louisiana.

NOLA Inspiration

I have each plotted out from beginning to end. The only thing left is to finish the writing.

Except I’ve been stuck with NOLA. I have the beginning, some of the middle, and the end. But I couldn’t figure out how to get from A to E because I didn’t know B, C or D.

And then I heard Anne Perry. And I talked with her and Victoria. And I realized, I’m writing a mystery novel. It’s always been a mystery. I’d just not identified it before.

It was like eating the first bite of a cake you just baked. It was like taking that first sip of coffee that you brewed in your new Keurig. It was like opening my eyes to see where I already knew I was.

Beignet with powdered sugar on green and white checkerboard paper

My not-from-Cafe-de-Monde Beignet

When I talked with Victoria and Anne, I realized I’m writing a mystery novel. And the lights turned on. I know now how to get from A to B to C . . . all the way to Z. I know now that I need to introduce a few more characters and expand on those already in the story.

When I was in college, my favorite class was a Mystery Novel Writing class. We read The Maltese Falcon and watched the film. We read Tony Hillerman. We analyzed Double Indemnity.

Lately, I’ve been remembering that class and the material. So I watched Double Indemnity the other night. It’s a fine mystery movie. I looked at my bookshelf. I have quite a collection of mystery novels. Many by Stephen J. Cannell. Wait . . . what? Stephen Cannell’s a mystery writer? How did I not turn that light bulb on before? Collecting his books, reading them, meeting and talking with him about writing . . . and for some reason I blanked out on the mystery part? There’s another breath of fresh air. My mentor was a mystery writer.

Stephen Cannell & I

Stephen Cannell & I (2010)

I’d already started rewriting NOLA based on input from my critique group (another benefit of being a member of the California Writer’s Club). I need to add more dialogue. It’s okay to jump into a scene instead of leading up to it. And never, ever mention a dead body unless there’s some sort of follow-up.

Yes. I’ve finally identified who I am.

And I am a mystery writer.

And Frankly, My Dear . . . that’s all she wrote!

You may also enjoy reading:
Why I Write. Every Day.
What’s Your Writing Style? Creatively Overcoming Writer’s Block
Five Things Friday: THE BIG EASY

How Bedford Manor Got Its Name
A Website and A Wish
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