Meet Devon Ellington [Author Interview]

Meet Devon Ellington | Author Interview | RachelPoli.com

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I publish under multiple names in fiction and non-fiction, and am an internationally-produced playwright and radio writer. I spent the bulk of my career working backstage on Broadway, and a little bit in film and television production.

How long have you been writing for?

I started writing when I was six; I was published in school literary magazines, and, in high school, published in local papers when I handled publicity for the music department.  I started working professionally in theatre when I was 18. In college, my major was film and television production, and I veered away from the writing and more into technical aspects. Working off-Broadway, I started writing monologues for actresses looking for good material; that grew into plays, and then back into short stories and novels. So I’ve been writing for A Very Long Time.

What motivates you to write? How did you begin writing?

Writing is how I make sense of the world. How I explore other lives from the inside and the outside.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

I do my first 1K of the day on what I call my  “Primary Project” (whatever’s being drafted) early in the day. Feed the cats, do my yoga/meditation practice, write my first 1K of the day.

The rest of the day shapes up depending on if I’m doing only my own work, or a mix of my own work and client work and other freelance writing gigs. It’s shaped by what’s on the tightest deadline and the highest paycheck. I prefer to write in the morning and edit in the afternoons. Since I’m always juggling multiple projects, there are usually a handful of projects in various draft stages, and then some more in editing or galleys.  Scriptwriting usually requires a much tighter turnaround than books, so when those jobs come in, they take priority. Sometimes, I just have to stay up later or get up earlier to get it all done.

What was the first thing you did when you found out your book was being published?

Cried. Tears of joy, but I cried.

What was the publishing process like? How long did it take?

Months, of course. For me, there’s generally been one major edit from the editor’s initial notes and discussion, and then one to two more rounds of edits with the editor, with a tighter turnaround. Then, the copyeditor is brought in, and we have those edits and galleys. When I have unusual people names or place names or phrases in other languages, I submit that with the draft that goes to the editor and the copyeditor, so they can help me stay consistent.

For the series I write, keeping the Series Bibles updated is vital, too. As soon as a book is out of final galleys and headed for release, I update the Series Bible. I use tracking sheets for details that may change within drafts, but once it’s finalized, I update the Series Bible. That way, an inconsistency is a plot or character choice, not a mistake.

Are you currently working on anything new?

Always! The radio plays are getting a lot of traction right now, and I have four stage plays to finish this year: one on the painter Canaletto’s sisters; one on the gun violence epidemic; a collection of monologues called WOMEN WITH AN EDGE RESIST that’s a follow-up to one of my most popular plays, WOMEN WITH AN EDGE; and a play about two famous women authors. Plus, I have to keep up with the series I’m writing — The Gwen Finnegan Mysteries, The Coventina Circle Paranormal Romantic Suspense Series, the lighter Nautical Namaste Mysteries, and a few one-offs. Plus client work. So I’m always, always working on something new. This is my passion, but it is also my business, not my hobby. It’s how I keep a roof over my head.

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

Still working on Broadway, as a dresser. Or, if I hadn’t gone down the theatre/writing path at all, probably an archaeologist.

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

Don’t let others define you. Define yourself. And realize that your life and your career are always a work in process.

What is your favorite book, genre, or author?

I don’t have just one of any of them! My favorite, favorite book, the one I’d need on a desert island, is THE COMPLETE WORKS OF SHAKESPEARE. I never get tired of Shakespeare. I also love POSSESSION, by AS Byatt.  Genre would probably be mystery. I find it often the most satisfying, although, as a writer, I like to mix it with other elements of other genres. Author? I don’t have a single favorite. Again, I always go back to Shakespeare. But it was Louisa May Alcott and Harriet Beecher Stowe who were the big inspirations for me to write. And Mildred Wirt Benson, the original writer of the Nancy Drew books as “Carolyn Keene.” She did another series, under her own name, with a heroine named Penny Parker. Penny is such a brat, but she’s hilarious.

I collect juvenile series mysteries from the early twentieth century: Beverly Gray, Vicki Barr, Judy Bolton, all of those. The racism in them is shocking, but it’s also a good snapshot of what was considered “normal” at the time and why we should know better now (but far too often don’t). You get a heroine like Ruth Fielding, a turn-of-the-twentieth-century heroine, who did all these great, adventurous things solving her mysteries, and then went on to a career writing in Hollywood, in a happy marriage. A lot of these heroines showed girls that there was more than one definition of “good” — and that it wasn’t a terrible thing to be smart, and show it.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Put your butt in the chair every day and do the work. Books don’t write themselves. Plan time off as you want/need it. Don’t let the writing slide. And don’t blow first rights posting material from your drafts online or on social media if you want to sell the polished/finished work. There’s a world of difference between throwing out a rough draft and sharing an excerpt of a piece that’s contracted.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Find your tribe. Find other writers you like to hang out with and talk to. Read each other’s work. Support each other. Every time one succeeds, it helps everybody. Jealousy and envy are a waste of energy. Learn the craft — craft is as important as art. Do the work, build the community, and you’ll start to see results.

About Devon Ellington

Devon Ellington | Author Interview | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.comDevon Ellington publishes under half a dozen names in fiction and non-fiction and is an internationally-produced playwright and radio writer. She has eight novels published, several novellas, dozens of short stories, and hundreds of articles. She worked backstage on Broadway and in film and television production for years and teaches both online and in-person. Her main website, www.devonellingtonwork.com, will lead you to the websites for the different series, and her blog on the writing life, Ink in My Coffee, is at https://devonellington.wordpress.com

Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Ello | Triberr

Buy Devon’s Books

The Coventina Circle Paranormal Romantic Suspense Series:
Playing the AnglesThe Spirit RepositoryRelics & Requiem

The Gwen Finnegan Paranormal Archaeological Mysteries:
Tracking Medusa | Myth & Interpretation

The Nautical Namaste Not-Quite-Cozy Mysteries (As Ava Dunne):
Savasana at Sea

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Short Story Sunday 265: Card (Part Three)

Short Story Sunday: Card | Flash Fiction | Short Story | Mystery | Mystery Writing | Mystery Month | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

Lilah sat behind George’s desk. She leaned back in the chair, propping her feet on the surface of his desk, and swiveled back and forth. She pouted her lips together deep in thought at the meeting they just had with Richard Wiley. His wife, Beth, had been acting strangely for a few weeks before she disappeared without a trace only taking her keys and car with her. What was really strange was that she had called George the week before but never gave any information on what was bothering her.

“What are you doing? Get your feet off my desk.” George said exasperated. He broke Lilah out of her thoughts as he entered the office once more.

Lilah put her feet back to the floor and sat forward propping her elbows on the desk now. “Did Richard have anything else to say?”

George sat down in the client’s chair, much to Lilah’s surprise. She had expected him to kick her out of his seat.

“Well,” he said, “we’ve officially been hired for a case.”

Lilah didn’t smile. “That’s good, I guess.”

George scratched the top of his head. “I’m glad we have work to do, but I feel so uneasy about this particular case. Things aren’t adding up.”

“They’re not supposed to add up. Not right now, anyway.” Lilah stated. She shivered. She was beginning to sound like George. Maybe she shouldn’t have been sitting in his chair after all.

“I know, but usually cases are odd. This one seems more so. I don’t know, I just have a bad feeling.” George answered.

Lilah sighed. “I know what you mean. This is certainly a strange one with both of them calling us… I wonder what Beth wanted from us.”

“She most likely wanted help about whatever is spooking her. Though it was enough for her to run away.” George said.

“Or maybe she took matters into her own hands.” Lilah suggested.

George looked up at her and she shrugged in response. She could tell by the raised eyebrows that George hadn’t thought of that possibility, but he certainly was now.

“Did Richard call the police?” Lilah asked. When George walked their new client to the front door, they stood in the hallway talking for some time. Lilah realized they had forgotten to ask him one of the most important questions – did he call the police already?

George nodded. “I asked him. He called 24 hours after he had no contact from his wife and still had no idea about her whereabouts. He knew the police would give him the run around so he waited until the time was right to call. Also, he was just holding out hoping that Beth would come home. He said he thought she might have just needed some space and went to the spa or something.”

“There are spas around here?” Lilah asked. She wanted one.

“Not that I know of, no.”

“Oh,”

“So, the police are on the case. They’re looking for Beth Wiley and her bright blue Honda.” George rattled off the license plate number he had written down on the sticky note beside her name.

Lilah perked up. “Barney must know then, right? Can we give him a call?”

George scrunched up his face and shook his head. “I don’t want to call my brother about this. Not now, anyway. We’ve barely begun the investigation.”

“Maybe Barney is the beginning of our investigation though. He might know more about Richard than we do. Richard might have given the police more information than he gave us.” Lilah explained.

“I doubt that. Richard wouldn’t have hired us if he didn’t include all the information. I don’t believe so, at least. Besides, Barney isn’t going to share any information with us about it now. Maybe not ever.” George countered.

Lilah sighed. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

They sat in silence for a moment. Lilah watched George carefully as he picked at a loose thread in the upholstery of the chair. Lilah remained deep in thought about the case. She certainly wanted to know more about Beth and also this Richard guy. Even though he was their client, she wondered if they were able to truth him. She glanced back at George again. She also wanted to know what was going on in his mind.

Then the phone rang.

Lilah leaned forward to look at the caller ID. She stood up from her chair and motioned for George to sit in his own seat. “Speak of the devil.”

George stood taking her offer. He switched seats with Lilah picking up the phone as he sat down. “Barney?”

“Speaker,” Lilah whispered. There was no way she was going to be left out of this conversation.

George, for once, obeyed. He pushed the speaker button on the phone and set it down on the receiver.

“George, how are you?” Barney asked.

“I’m fine, how are you?” George replied. He gave Lilah a strange look. She felt just as weirded out as he did. What were the odds of Barney calling them when they were just talking about him?

“I’m on a case, so I’m as fine as I can be.” Barney replied. “Listen,” he continued before George could respond, “I need to talk to you. Are you free to come down to the station sometime today?”

Lilah raised both her eyebrows. Barney’s tone was different. He had his cop voice on that was for sure. Usually he was a little different with George though.

“I guess so, if you really need me to. What’s going on?” George asked.

“I’m at Simmond’s Park in the woods. We got a call from a concerned parent. There’s a car parked in the woods with branches and tarp covering it. The parent who called it in thought someone was sitting in the car watching the kids on the playground. There’s no one in the car though. The owner definitely wanted to hide it, but we’re not sure if it’s been abandoned or if they’ll be back.” Barney explained.

Lilah pressed her lips together. She suddenly felt warm and had a very good feeling as to what was about to happen next. Why Barney needed to talk to them about it, she wasn’t sure. It didn’t seem like they had found Beth, so how did Barney know they were connected somehow?

“Let me guess… blue Honda?” George asked before he mentioned the license plate.

“So, you do know the car.” Barney replied his tone hinting confirmation.

“I have knowledge of the car’s existence. I don’t know it though. Why did you call me about this?” George asked.

“George, your business card was in the front cup holder.” Barney stated.

Lilah’s eyes grew and she looked at George who stared back at her in confusion.

“We ran the plates,” Barney continued, “and this vehicle is registered to a Bethany Wiley. Whether she was the one who drove the car here and hid it, is a mystery, but there’s no report of it being stolen. Do you know Bethany?”

“Not personally,”

“What does that mean?”

George pinched the bridge of his nose. “I’ve never met the woman, though I spoke to her over the phone once last week. I have no idea how she got my business card.”

“Do you know that her husband, Richard Wiley, had reported her missing?” Barney asked.

“Lilah and I have just had the pleasure of meeting Richard.” George answered.

“Where is he?”

“He just left my office about ten minutes before you called.”

Barney sighed. “I’ll have to call him soon…”

Lilah piped up. “This is more about the car, isn’t it? What else is going on?”

“Am I on speaker?” Barney asked.

“Of course,” Lilah grinned.

Barney grunted before explaining further. “There was a body of an adult male in the trunk.”

Words: 1,304

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I hope you enjoyed this story! Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Time To Write: Money [Creative Writing Prompt]

Last week’s writing prompt was a Random Words prompt. Check out some stories from fellow writers here:

This week’s writing prompt is:

Time To Write: Money | Creative Writing Prompt | Creative Writing | Word Prompt | RachelPoli.com

Write a story about the word above – Money.

If you use this prompt, please leave a link to your post in the comments below and I’ll share it next week. Please be sure to link back to my blog so your readers know where you got the prompt!

Happy Writing! If you want more, check out all my other Writing Prompts here!

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All About Red Herrings [Mystery Month]

A red herring is a term used in the mystery genre to throw the detective – or the reader – off the trail. It’s a fake clue to lure them into a false sense that they’re hot on the trail when they’re really now. Red herrings are a lot of fun for the reader and the writer alike. However, they’re not as easy to incorporate into the story as you’d think. So, here’s all about red herrings.

All About Red Herrings | Mystery Month | Mystery Writing | Mystery Genre | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

How Can Red Herrings Be Added To The Story?

Red herrings can be added into the story in a number of ways – through characters, places, evidence, or pretty much anything of importance in the story. How? Because no one knows the truth until the investigator deduces it all.

A place can be a red herring if the body is moved or it seems a crime took place in one spot but it turns out it happened somewhere else. Then, right from the start, the detective already has false information. This goes for the clues as well. Sometimes a clue can be interpreted wrong (for the better or worse).

An innocent character may seem suspicious and vice versa. So, in a way, pretty much everyone could be a red herring. Not to mention, if someone is framed – especially on purpose – that right there is a red herring.

Real And Fake Red Herrings

All red herrings are fake, though some are done on purpose. Like a person who is framed or an “accidental” clue left behind, red herrings can be done on purpose or not.

If a criminal is really that good or has an accomplice, they can purposefully leave certain clues behind, manipulate the crime scene, or frame someone else for the crime if their red herrings are that good enough to throw the reader and detective off the trail.

However, sometimes something can be mistaken as a clue when it’s really not. This is at the fault of the detective or whoever suggested it. They go on a wild goose chase following a hunch that never really mattered. In which case, that sort of red herring is more for the reader because the detective himself believes in the red herring on his own.

Why Are Red Herrings Important?

Red herrings are needed in a mystery for two reasons: one because it adds more tension and suspense and two because it’s a lot of fun.

Not only is it fun for the reader to figure out and possibly be duped by it, but its also fun for the writer to write and figure out themselves. The most important thing though is that it adds more tension and suspense to the story.

When it comes to mystery, you want your readers guessing and on the edge of their seat. It’s fun when you’re trying to solve a fictional crime and you keep flip-flopping between two did it and how.

Be Careful Using Red Herrings

Earlier I mentioned that red herrings can be just about anything – a person, place, or thing. However, you want to be sure you add it in accordingly and that it makes sense. The red herring needs to seemingly be part of the crime somehow and it must be believable to all. If someone was strangled and a bloodied ax is found at the scene and your detective seems to believe the ax had something to do with the murder, then your detective isn’t too bright.

Red herrings need to be woven into the story carefully so that they could really be clues despite having nothing to do with the crime itself.

Overall, red herrings are a lot of fun for the writer to figure out and craft into the story. If done well, the readers will enjoy it just as much.

Do you incorporate red herrings into any of your stories? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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WIP Wednesday [May 2019]

WIP Wednesday: May 2019 | Creative Writing | Blogging | Work In Progress | RachelPoli.com

This week, in particular, hasn’t been productive at all. The weekend was a weird one – with things online and in real life. It was a good weekend, but some things aren’t great and there was some weird news.

I won’t go into detail about everything, but I did already mention my grandfather going into the hospital. I’ll say that he went back into the hospital but hopefully, he’ll get to come home today. So, we’ll see what happens with that. He’s okay for the most part though.

It was also Mother’s Day so things were busy anyway. Needless to say, I didn’t get anything done over the weekend.

Which, in turn, poured into this week. I was so exhausted and out of it on Monday and Tuesday. I’m trying my best to get back into the work groove today.

So, that’s my update. I haven’t worked on anything this week. Hopefully, the rest of the week goes better and smoother.

And honestly, it’s been most of the month too. I haven’t edited as much as I planned at all. So, we’ll just see how the rest of the month goes. Fingers crossed I can get something done and everything else goes okay.

What have you been working on this month? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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24 Mystery Terms To Know For Your Novel [Mystery Month]

When it comes to writing a mystery novel, we’re no real detectives or officers. We’ve never investigated anything in our lives before – at least, not to the extent of a homicide or anything of the kind.

With that said, when it comes to criminal justice, some vocabulary may be a little foreign. Sure, we’ve heard it in our favorite crime TV shows or cozy mystery books. But we may not know what it actually means.

Here are some mystery terms to know for your novel.

24 Mystery Terms To Know For Your Novel | Mystery Month | Creative Writing | Mystery Genre | RachelPoli.com

Accessory – A person who assists in a crime without directly doing the crime

Accomplice – A person who knowingly assists with a crime

Alibi – An excuse used by an accused person to prove he or she wasn’t at the scene of the crime

Breakthrough – A big discovery in an investigation

Capital Murder – A murder that can be punishable by death

Case File – A collection of documents pertaining to a specific investigation

Deduce (Deduction) – Logical reasoning and thinking to infer information

Evidence – Clues to help solve a crime; can be a statement, fact, or object

Felony – A crime punishable by either death or confinement in a state correctional facility

Forensics – Scientific tests to aid in a criminal investigation

Framed – False evidence against an innocent person pinning the crime on them

Fugitive – A person who escapes or evades arrest or imprisonment

Homicide – The killing of a human being by another human being

Interrogate – To ask questions and get information from people about a crime

Motive – The reason a person does what he/she does

Parole – Allowing a prisoner to serve the remainder of their time outside of prison

Perpetrator – Someone guilty of a crime

Red Herring – A false clue to throw investigators off track

Scapegoat – Someone who is blamed or falsely accused

Sleuth – Another name for Detective

Suspect – Someone who might have committed a crime

Victim – A person harmed by a crime

Warrant – A written order directing someone to do something

Witness – A person who saw something related to a crime

Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below! If you enjoyed this post, please share it around.

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Short Story Sunday 264: Disappoint (Part Two)

Short Story Sunday: Disappoint | Flash Fiction | Short Story | Creative Writing | Mystery Month | Mystery Writing | Mystery | RachelPoli.com

Lilah was the one who let Richard into the building. They had their polite greetings – Richard was somber and Lilah attempted to be her usual perky self, but she knew something was terribly wrong. She led him down the hallway to George’s office in silence. She had left the door open and George saw them coming. He stood, buttoning his suit jacket as he walked around to the other side of his desk, and stuck out a hand for Richard. He took it, they dipped their heads as Lilah always saw men do, and then they took their seats. George at his desk, Richard in the client’s chair, and Lilah beside George.

“Thank you for seeing me on such short notice.” Richard began.

“Of course. I’m glad we had an opening.” George replied cracking a small smile.

Lilah wanted to mention they’ve had plenty of openings lately, but she knew well enough when to bite her tongue.

“So, uh, do I just start explaining?” Richard asked. “I’m sorry, I’ve never had to do this before.”

“No worries. Starting at the beginning is helpful, but tell us what you like and take your time. There’s no rush.” George said soothingly.

“Well,” Richard cleared his throat and shifted his weight in his chair, “I don’t really know where to begin, actually… my wife, Beth, she started acting strange a couple weeks ago.”

“Can you be a little more specific than a couple of weeks, please?” George interrupted. He opened his notepad and began scribbling down what Richard dictated.

Richard turned his chin to the ceiling. “Three weeks? I had gone away on a business trip and the day I came home she was acting strange. I had thought she was having an affair. I honestly thought there was a man inside my closet or something and she was nervous I’d find him. I didn’t think she’d ever do anything like that though. We’re very open and honest with one another so I felt comfortable asking her about it.”

Lilah’s draw dropped. “You mean to say you just asked your wife up front if she was cheating on you?”

“Yes,” Richard said matter-of-factly. “Everyone should feel comfortable talking to their partner about anything and everything.” He sighed. “Which is why I don’t understand why she would keep secrets and then disappear into thin air.”

“Wait a minute,” George held up a finger, “has this talk about anything and everything thing mutual between the two of you? Or would you say you’re more of the talker and feelings one in the relationship?”

“Mutual,”

“So, how did she react when you asked if she was cheating on you?”

“It was weird,” Richard began, “she laughed. It wasn’t the kind of laugh where she thought of question was ridiculous or the kind of laugh that’s nervous as she tries to cover it up. Her laughing was filled with relief. It was almost as though she thought I was going to accuse her of something else.”

“Do you know what that something else could be?” Lilah questioned.

“No idea,” Richard shook his head.

George drew in a sharp breath. “So, what did you mean when you said she disappeared into thin air?”

“She vanished.” Richard said, his solemn gaze at the ground. “I woke up one morning and she wasn’t in bed. I thought she had to go into work early so I drove by her work to bring her a coffee. On my way there, I got a phone call from her boss. Beth never showed up to work and never even called. They had called her cell phone a couple of times but she didn’t answer. I lied to Beth’s boss. I told her Beth was sick.” Richard paused. He closed his eyes. “I didn’t want to lie but I didn’t want them to think something was wrong. I didn’t think anything was wrong at the time.”

“It’s okay, I would have done the same thing.” Lilah said quietly. George glanced at her and she shrugged. She felt awkward and wanted him to feel better. She didn’t want him thinking this was his fault, but what did she know? Maybe it was his fault and he either didn’t see it or he was lying to them as well.

“When did you wake up and Beth was gone?” George asked.

“Three days ago.”

“She had been acting strange for nearly three weeks, you didn’t do or say anything about it other than asking about a possible affair, and then she just got up without a trace?” George rehashed.

Richard nodded. “I went back home and found all her things including her wallet and phone. Her car and keys were gone, that’s it. She didn’t take anything.

“And I did ask her what was wrong occasionally. She wouldn’t tell me. She asked for space and said she’d tell me when she was ready. So, I stopped asking. I wanted to respect her request.”

“That was nice of you.” Lilah piped up.

“But now your wife is missing so maybe not so much?” George said bluntly. Lilah elbowed him, but he didn’t so much as flinch.

“Richard,” George leaned forward, “did you know that Beth made a call here a week ago?”

Richard’s head snapped up and he stared at George with wide eyes.

“No, I didn’t think so.” George sighed leaning back into his seat.

“What are you talking about?”

“We knew who Beth was when you called. As soon as you mentioned her name, we remembered her phone call from a week ago.” Lilah explained. “She didn’t give us any information though. She wanted our help but was unsure if we could help.”

“It was almost as though she was at war with herself. She wasn’t sure if calling us was the right thing to do. I asked if she’d come in, but she refused. I told her when she was ready, she was more than welcome to stop by. She said she would think about it and that was it.” George clarified. “She originally called asking if we were taking on more clients but never stated whether she was the one who had interest in hiring us. I wondered if she was calling for you, but obviously that’s not the case.”

Richard remained silent. He turned his gaze to the floor again.

“Now that I think about it, and after hearing your side, I’m sure now. The tone in her voice.” George said cryptically.

“Share with the class, George. There’s no need for secrets.” Lilah deadpanned.

“She was afraid. She was worried about something. Whether she was afraid for herself or for someone else, I’m not sure. It seems as though she ran away, so she must be afraid for herself. She’s scared of something. She disappeared with the intention of not being found.” George explained.

Lilah elbowed him again. She noticed he was staring off into space as he spoke and realized he was getting carried away with his thoughts. Meanwhile, Richard looked like he was about to explode in a waterfall of tears at any second. She was blunt, she knew that much, but George sometimes had no emotional tact.

Her nudge nabbed his attention. George looked up at Lilah in wonderment and she nodded her head to their potential client. When George noticed Richard trying to keep his emotions in check, he sighed.

“Richard, do you need a minute?” he asked. “You can tell us what you’re thinking.”

“I’m…” Richard mumbled something, but Lilah didn’t make out what he said. She leaned forward.

“I’m sorry?” George said leaning forward as well.

Richard lifted his head, his face filled with sorrow. “I’m disappointed.”

“Disappointed?” Lilah repeated in a snarky tone. Now George elbowed her and she waved him away. Disappointed was not the exact emotion she thought Richard would be feeling.

“I’m disappointed because,” Richard sniffled, “Beth felt the need to come to you. Why didn’t she come to me?”

Words: 1,327

Check out the other Short Story Sundays I’ve done!

I hope you enjoyed this story! Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Death By Vanilla Latte (Bookstore Cafe Mystery 4) By Alex Erickson [Book Review]

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Death By Vanilla Latte by Alex Erickson | Book Review | Cozy Mystery | Mystery Month | Mystery | Fiction | Book Blogger | RachelPoli.comEver since café owner Krissy Hancock settled into a relationship and—mostly—forgot about old flames, life has become surprisingly serene. Too bad her father, famed mystery writer James Hancock, had to pay an unexpected visit to Death by Coffee and brew up a batch of trouble…

While caught off-guard by her dad’s presence, Krissy never dreamed he’d become the biggest murder suspect in town. But that’s exactly what happens when James’s boorish agent—a man he allegedly fired just hours earlier—is found cold and lifeless, a still-warm vanilla latte resting by his hand…

With Pine Hills divided over her father’s innocence and a fanatical fan keen on locking the author away for safe keeping, Krissy must end the madness and identify the real criminal—even if that means meeting an ex or two along the way. But as her social life becomes increasingly chaotic, Krissy may be caught in a case that’s far too hot to handle…

Author: Alex Erickson
Genre: Cozy Mystery, Fiction
Series: Bookstore Cafe Mystery
Publisher: Kensington
Published Date: May 30, 2017
How I got the book: I got a paperback copy as a gift from my parents for Christmas.

Book Cover | RachelPoli.comAs always, I enjoy the book cover. It sticks with the theme for the rest of the series and I always love seeing a cat on the front.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.comI’ve read and reviewed the first three books of the series and I’ve wanted to keep going, so here we are with book number four.

Plot | RachelPoli.comKrissy isn’t in so much hot water this time around, but her father is. When her best-selling author dad’s agrent kicks the bucket, Krissy’s dad is a suspect. Now it’s up to Krissy to find the real killer and save her father’s reputation.

I think this plot is my favorite so far of the series. All the characters are well established and familiar. It was nice to see more of Krissy’s dad in this one as well. Plus, the plot was interesting as it was more personal than the rest.

Characters | RachelPoli.comI’ve always liked Krissy’s dad from what we’ve heard of him through phone calls on Krissy’s part. I was glad for him to play a major role in this one. Overall, I still enjoy the characters. Krissy still isn’t my favorite protagonist, but she’s eased up througout the series.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

Like the rest of the books in the series, this is an easy to read. The book is a decent length, the ending is wrapped up nicely, and it’s fun to follow along the characters and figure out the mystery yourself.

Overall | RachelPoli.comAs I said earlier, I think this was my favorite of the series so far. I don’t suggest starting at this particular book so you can get a feel for the characters, but it’s a great one to read nonetheless.

Death By Vanilla Latte (Bookstore Cafe Mystery 4) by Alex Erickson gets…
Book Review Rating System | 5 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com5 out of 5 cups

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Time To Write: Random Words 15 [Creative Writing Prompt]

Last week’s writing prompt was a Sentence Starter. Check out some stories from fellow writers here:

This week’s writing prompt is:

Time To Write: Random Words | Creative Writing | Writing Prompt | Word Prompt | Flash Fiction | Short Story | Mystery Prompt | Mystery Writing | RachelPoli.com

Write a story using all the words: Harm, Mess, Heist.

If you use this prompt, please leave a link to your post in the comments below and I’ll share it next week. Please be sure to link back to my blog so your readers know where you got the prompt!

Happy Writing! If you want more, check out all my other Writing Prompts here!

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What To Include In Your Mystery Novel’s Outline [Mystery Month]

It’s Mystery Month and we’re starting right at the beginning of creating a mystery novel. I know most people don’t care too much for outlining, but when it comes to writing a mystery, I find an outline really helps. So, here’s what to include in your mystery novel’s outline.

What To Include In Your Mystery Novel's Outline | Mystery Month | Mystery Writing | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

A List of Characters

This probably goes without saying, but it’s always helpful to have a list of characters handy. So many people are involved in a mystery novel. There’s the detective or police officers, witnesses, suspects, any assistants, the victim, and their family and/or friends, the culprit and anyone who knows them, etc. Even if you just write down their names and their title for the novel (witness, for example), at least you have something. I personally like to write down their first and last names, title, age, and any major plot points that affect them or they had an involvement in.

A List of Clues and Evidence

With crime comes evidence, clues, witness statements, you name it. It’s a good idea to have a handy list of what these clues are and what they mean. Also, how and when they’ll be discovered. Not to mention you can always strategically place them throughout the book. Which one should be discovered and discussed in which chapter and the like.

The Details of the Crime

Who, what, where, when, why, and how. That’s really all you need to know and it’s better to figure it all out before you start writing. Or else you’ll be ripping your hair out later.

A Timeline

Going along with the details of the crime, it’s always a good idea to have a general timeline of the events of the book as well. Not just for the crime but also for the investigation. Despite it being fiction, it’s pretty unrealistic for a homicide to be solved in one day or within a few hours. Evidence needs to be processed, bodies need to be autopsied, travel time to the crime scene, and so much more. There are only so many hours in a day, remember.

An Outline is Not Your Book

The first draft is just you telling yourself the story, but an outline makes that first draft easier to tell… and it also relieves a lot of pressure on the editing part. Outlines are optional and even if you create one, it’s just a guideline for your book – know that things will change. Still, it’ll help in the long run. Your ideas will be in order and it’ll be less remembering for you later.

Do you outline your mystery novels? Or for any genre? Let me know your thoughts on this post in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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