Writing . . .


“The Unbroken Circle” appears in the Summer 2020 issue of Pulp Modern, Vol 2:5.In 1890’s Indiana, and the annual reunion of the Bywater family is in full swing.

As they start the recounting of the family’s proud history, a stranger appears. He’s carrying their family Bible that went missing a few years earlier. He gives it to the family patriarch and hastens away.

Everyone in the family is thrilled the Bible has been returned to them–that is, until they learn the dark messages that it hides.

The next morning, the stranger lies dead in William Bywater’s front yard, and when the sheriff arrives, he has a long list of questions , and everyone’s a suspect. Order it here!

In Print

“The West Texas Rookie”– featuring young, tiny, and fearless Japanese American reporter Brianna Yamato making her mark in the macho newsroom of the Sweetwater, Texas, Register.

Told to write a wrap-up about a four-victim homicide that no one wants to investigate, not even the authorities, Brianna proves there’s always more to find out!

She gets the story and you can too, in the December 2019 issue of Mystery Weekly. Order it here!

In “The Ghost Who Read the Newspaper,” a blinding snowstorm leads a pair of 1920s adventurers to a Connecticut inn, where they encounter its mysterious night visitor.

Who was this well-dressed ghost, called The Old Gentleman, and why has he haunted this place for sixty years? Their investigation takes them into the tragedy and heroism of the Civil War. A tale of violence and grief.

Level Best Books includes this story in Seascape: Best New England Crime Stories, available here.

“The Adventure at Sparremere Hall” appears in the new anthology, Sherlock Holmes: Adventures in the Realms of Edgar Allan Poe, a mashup of Poe’s dark imagination and Holmes’s investigative prowess.

In my story, a young man pleads with Holmes and Watson to investigate the bizarre behavior of a long-time friend, whose obsession with his wife’s teeth has taken on strange overtones.

You may recognize this as the impetus for Poe’s haunting story, “Berenice.” Writing a story in the voice of Dr. Watson was a rather large dose of fun. Available here from Amazon.

Summer 2019: The Best Laid Plans, an anthology of short stories edited by Canadian mystery writer Judy Penz Sheluk, contains 21 short stories by some of today’s best-known short crime fiction authors. In my story, “Who They Are Now,” a legendary sportscaster is murdered under cover of a disastrous Florida hurricane. Does an aging Hollywood star hold the key to finding the killer? Available here.

Winter 2018: My short story “Above Suspicion” appears in Issue #26 of Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine. Boston’s 1990 Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist–still the largest art theft and the largest property theft in history–remains unsolved. The art hasn’t been recovered, and no arrests have been made. The FBI has stuck to its low-level mobster theory for nearly 30 years. I suggest a totally different brand of thieves.

Fall 2018: “Tooth and Nail” appears in an award-winning anthology inspired by the groundbreaking writing of Edgar Allan Poe, titled Quoth the Raven. The challenge was to retain Poe’s eerie sensibility in a story set in the modern day. Available through Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks. Or here through Amazon.

Fall 2017: “The Penitent” was one of 18 stories (of 116 submissions) selected for the Bouchercon Anthology entitled Passport to Murder, a collection nominated for a 2018 Anthony Award. Order your copy here!

April 2017:  “Burning Bright” appears in this collection of crime fiction stories: Busted: Arresting Stories from the Beat. It’s a sentimental favorite for me, about a Wisconsin deputy sheriff determined to save a tiger from local ne’er-do-wells. Honorable Mention from the Public Safety Writers Association, the only published short story to receive an award in 2017.

April 2017: Murder Among Friends, includes a reprint of my short story “The Flock,” first published in the literary magazine, Big Muddy. This is a fundraiser for the John Greenleaf Whittier Birthplace Museum.

Fall 2016: “Breadcrumbs” won a Short Mystery Fiction Society Derringer Award in 2017 and was the lead story in the magazine Betty Fedora–“kick-ass women in crime fiction.” You can read it here.

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine has a 75+-year history, is billed as “the world’s leading mystery magazine,” and has almost 40,000 print and online subscribers. It’s one of the most important paying markets for short mystery writers and a real honor for me to be published there–four times now!

One night young reporter Brianna Yamato’s date stands her up. But he has an awfully good excuse. He’s been murdered. The bizarre circumstances stump the authorities until Brianna does what she does best. She digs. This story–titled “New Energy”–leads off the July-August 2019 issue.

“A Slaying Song Tonight” – lead story in EQMM’s holiday edition (January/February 2017). The story begins. . . To Martin Benet, the blinking red-blue emergency lights looked rather festive. Still, he would bet they didn’t bring glad tidings.

“Premeditation” (February 2012) – Eugenia Clarke is haunted by the grizzly death of a solo hiker in Gates of the Arctic National Park, only to uncover a much more sinister double murder plot. Yes, I know how to spell grisly; I was making a pun. However, I’ve since noticed the word is frequently misspelled. I take no responsibility.

“Evidence” (August 2007) Eugenia believes the young women in her tour group are about to be snared in a smuggler’s trap, or are they? 

Short Shorts

Our local community newspaper (U.S. 1) publishes a popular “Summer Fiction Issue” with stories and poems submitted by the large number of local authors. Initially, the stories were supposed to be no more then 2000 words, which is great discipline.

If you’re a writer just starting out, a local venue like that can be fantastic. You see your name in print, you meet other writers. I was proud that a story of mine was selected in six of the seven years I submitted. One year every member of my writing group who submitted got in. All the discussion and group work we did on those stories paid off! Plus, two of my stories submitted to this small-circ publication were reprinted elsewhere. One of them, twice.

  • John Abbott’s Kitchen Boy (2017) – a twelve-year-old boy recounts a true story from the American Revolution, fictionalized only by making him the hero who saved New Jersey’s gold reserve.
  • What Would Jimmy Stewart Do? (2016) – the local paper likes a Princeton connection in these stories, and Stewart is one of the University’s best-known alumni. Silly fun.
  • What Saved Them (2015) – One of three stories published (the other two elsewhere) based on material from a novel that didn’t fit after all. Still, I liked the characters and saved the story.
  • War of the Worlds (2014) – Very close to my house is the real-life place where the Martians landed in Orson Welles’s fictional War of the Worlds radio play. Couldn’t resist this local angle in a story about a lonely woman, tormented by the local boys at Halloween and her own secrets.
  • Never Here When I Need Him (2012) – A woman’s husband goes out jogging and doesn’t come home.
  • Windjammer (2011) – Three of us from my writing group entered stories with some elements in common: Cape May, N.J., a cottage, a ghost, and for two of us, a parrot. All three were published and inspired that issue’s cover art!

Spoken Word

Members of my writing group read from our work at the main branch of Mercer County Public Library in March (not March 2020, of course) and October.

I’ve also read at the Mystery Writers of America’s events at the KGB Bar in Manhattan.

For thoughts about short-story writing, here’s a podcast. My interview starts a little after 12:30.

6 thoughts on “Writing . . .

  1. Pingback: PSWA Newsletter February 2020

  2. Victoria,
    Above Suspicion was a very fine story. I had a story in Sherlock Holmes Mag, too, I belong to MWA and SinC. I send to Sherlock Holmes as a last resort since the Mag is not carried by newsstands (only subscribers get to read it).
    I must remind myself to be grateful to be published, period!
    Robert Knightly

  3. I too loved The Cowboy and the Cossack. It may be the best westerns ever written, even though it takes place in Russia.

    Congratulations on your latest publication. Loved the story. I am ordering it right now.

  4. I am half way through reading The Cowboy and the Cossack per your recommendation. I love this book. The writer’s descriptions are so vivid. Thanks for your review. It may be the best book that I have ever read.

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