Category: Blog

Life in 1832 Zoar

1

In the preface to my next Zoar mystery, Tree of Heaven (fall, 2017), Ludwig writes to his brother in Germany, urging him to bring his family and come to America. Here’s what he tells him about their life in Zoar: “When we finally made our way from Philadelphia to the land in Northeast Ohio that Josef had […]

(Read More of this Post)

The Case of Goesele v. Bimeler

1

In the Society of Separatists, the tavern keeper, Johannes Goesele, repeatedly flouts the Separatists’ rules. Finally, in 1844 he and his wife are evicted from their home and banned from the town of Zoar. In revenge, he files a lawsuit against Joseph Bimeler, Zoar’s leader, demanding a share of the Society’s property. If he prevails, […]

(Read More of this Post)

German Dolls Come to America

2

Early German Dolls Did you know that the majority of 19th century dolls were made in Germany? I didn’t. But there’s a good reason they were so follow along and I’ll explain why. The prolific German doll making industry began more than 400 years ago. Early dolls were made of wood, taking advantage of the country’s dense […]

(Read More of this Post)

Sex and the Separatists: The Expanded Version

0

The Separatists couldn’t make up their minds about sex. Was it good? Or bad? Well, that’s not exactly accurate–they never thought it was good. More like accepting sex as a necessary evil? Or totally opposed. Remember, their goal was to get to heaven–be saved. That’s what made this life on earth palatable. If they sacrificed pleasures now, […]

(Read More of this Post)

Sex and the Separatists

0

The Separatists couldn’t make up their minds about sex. Was it good? Or bad? Well, that’s not exactly accurate–they never thought it was good. More like accepting sex as a necessary evil? Or totally opposed. Remember, their goal was to get to heaven–be saved. That’s what made this life on earth palatable. if they sacrificed pleasures […]

(Read More of this Post)

Writing a Play: How Hard Could It Be?

0

Having authored more than a dozen nonfiction books and five mystery novels, I agreed to write a play to celebrate Zoar, Ohio’s Bicentennial.  A perfect situation had presented itself: Zoar’s founder, Joseph Bimeler, had been sued by a man he’d thrown out of the community in 1844. I had access to transcripts of testimonies as well as an […]

(Read More of this Post)

Crime and Punishment in the 19th Century

0

Warning: The following is for mature audiences only Murder, burglary, theft. You think they’re all a product of recent history. Think again. Violent altercations occurred often in the hurly, burly world of early American life. Soon laws were enacted, courts established, and a justice system (of sorts) grew up to right the wrongs and mete […]

(Read More of this Post)

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

0

“She Did It Her Way,” was recently published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. In “She Did It Her Way” you’ll hear about EQMM’s second editor, Eleanor Regis Sullivan, from an author who coincidentally shares her name, Eleanor J. Sullivan. Eleanor has previously been published in Mystery Scene Magazine, among others.

(Read More of this Post)

Bicentennial celebration in Zoar, Ohio during 2017

0

Two exciting events will occur during the Bicentennial celebration in Zoar, Ohio during 2017:   My play, “The Case of Goesele v. Bimeler,” will be presented October 6th. Based on a real-life trial brought by an evicted Separatist who sued the village leader, demanding a share of the Society’s property. If he prevails, the Society’s […]

(Read More of this Post)

The Accuracy of Historical Novels: Fact or Fiction?

0

If you want to research this subject further I have to recommend Kathy Lynn Emerson book How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries: The Art and Adventure of Sleuthing Through the Past The core of the book is Emerson’s personal take on writing and selling historical mysteries, but it also includes contributions from over forty other historical […]

(Read More of this Post)

The Writing Life

0

If you had been with me at the Kansas City library in April, 1994, you would have heard award-winning author, Nancy Pickard, say, “The writing life has little to do with being published.” What? I thought that was the purpose of writing. First, she said, you must decide that you want the writing life and, if […]

(Read More of this Post)

Step 9: Create Final Scenes

0

You learned last week that your sleuth has failed. A suspect has been arrested for the murder, and she knows he didn’t do it. She is crushed. Just when all seems hopeless, your sleuth picks herself up again. This time it will be all or nothing. She will push herself to the limit to solve […]

(Read More of this Post)

Step 8: Write Act II Scenes

0

Now it’s time to enrich and complicate your story. Your sleuth, you may recall from last week’s post, faces insurmountable odds. How can she find the killer? Here’s where you can show her intelligence, resourcefulness, and determination. She rises to the occasion. Here’s the questions to ask: Who wanted the victim dead? You should have already created […]

(Read More of this Post)

Step 7: Craft Scenes in Act I

0

Crafting scenes is much like making a patchwork quilt. Each scene must be different–reveal some detail about the plot or characters or both–but it must also fit into the larger whole of the story. But don’t get too anxious–this is the fun part! To begin, review last week’s post on the 3 act structure. Take […]

(Read More of this Post)

Step 6: Build a Story Structure

0

Just like a building, a story needs a structure to frame your story. Wanting to make my work as easy as possible (remember I told you that you’d learn 10 easy steps to mystery writing), I use a simple 3-act structure. Act I In Act I you set up your story. Act I: Introduces major characters, […]

(Read More of this Post)

Step 5: Create a Killer and Suspects

0

As promised, this week we’ll create a killer and suspects to keep your sleuth confused. Confusion and complications–the hallmarks of good mysteries! The Killer The killer must have the means to kill, the motive to kill, and the opportunity to do the dastardly deed. MOM in mystery writer parlance. I start with the motive, which […]

(Read More of this Post)