how to write a damn good mystery

Get In Touch With Your Creative Spark

It's Tuesday, March 14th, 2017 in the afternoon. While my "last hometown of New York City" fights bitter cold and stacking snow, I'm enjoying weather that's much different. And ONLY BECAUSE Tammy never heard me on the radio, but longs to hear what it used to be like, I'm including a tiny sample of a Time Check. 

Yes, it's sunny, with zero chance of rain in Encinitas. Snow? Less than zero; the temp, not the book.

Speaking of which, it was 32 years ago that Bret Easton Ellis wrote LESS THAN ZERO; a book that USA Today called, "Catcher in the Rye for the MTV generation."

Was it cool? Yes. Mesmerizing? You bet. Some have said that it "defined a new genre of fiction writing." While I enjoyed the movie, introducing me to an actor that DEVOURED the screen: Robert Downey, Jr., I still believe the book was better.  But then, isn't that nearly always the case? 

Well, except in the case of my latest film, CHASING GRACE; that film was 99% better than the book DISCOVERING GRACE.

Yet, I digress.

Perhaps, I should rename this blog entry: TAMELESS TUESDAY.

I'm sitting in what Tam & I affectionately call my treehouse. Why? Because it's on the 3rd floor, looks out over the tops of 80-year old palm trees, and glances west toward the blue pacific. There's a breeze blowing in the windows from three different sides.

My writing space (and video editing space, and voiceover space, and meditating space, and disappear-to-stare-at-the-ocean space) is smaller than your bedroom. Heck, it's about the size of a good walk-in closet (but with a slanted roof).

It's simply adorned with mid-century furniture, a worn Pottery Barn carpet and an old tower, a new laptop and several stacks of books (my novels and other books about writing). The most eye-catching accoutrement is a long arm of clear bubble wrap adorning the lowest edge of the ceiling; thus helping to prevent yet another SMACK to my head.

By now, I realize this post is becoming more random by the minute. Frankly, I like it. And if you're still reading, then perhaps you do, too.

Today, I've been digesting material from James Frey's book HOW TO WRITE A DAMN GOOD MYSTERY. It's really good; well-structured, simple to understand, and confirming.  

Click below to see a list of the chapters.

If you're a writer, want to be a writer, or dream of one day becoming a writer, please allow me one suggestion:


  • Don't let anyone tell you that you can't.
  • Don't let anyone tell you you're not any good.
  • Don't let anyone tell you that it's been done before.
  • Don't let anyone tell you it's boring, or no one will read it, or whatever.
  • Don't let anyone tell you that it's impossible to get published.


  • Give yourself permission to write. Write ANYTHING!
  • Give yourself encouragement, knowing YOUR VOICE is different than anyone on the planet.
  • Give yourself time to practice and improve. After all, it takes as much SEAT TIME as anything.
  • Give yourself a timeline; perhaps, you write an hour a day, a day a week, or 15 minutes at a time (whenever that is).
  • Give yourself the knowledge that in this world of self-publishing, you can get your book printed, ebook-ed, or audiobook-ed -- without having an agent!

My biggest (and best) point is one that will appear in an upcoming book:


Yes, I said it. And I believe it. You know why? Because...


Trust me. It's true.

While I continue to craft #seductionatdaybreak - my latest novel, and first foray into the world of mystery writing, I am beginning to observe a number of different ways to orchestrate details in the story. Things like: teasing the audience with potential antagonists ... possible dual-protagonists ... and plausible plots, sub-plots, and sub-sub plots. It's an everyday adventure!

Okay, I've got to wrap this puppy up. I have some writing to do. Thanks for skipping along on this scattered blog. I hope you can appreciate a good case of non-sequitur.

Until we exchange again, answer me this:

If money were no object, and time was a-plenty, and responsibilities were nil, and you had the support of those around you...





... and as always, please CLICK the SHARE BUTTON BELOW to share with others!