Peg Herring's Blog (752)

Donna Fletcher Crow & The Valiant Victorians

My blogguest (Oooh, I invented a word!) on Monday, October 10, is Donna Fletcher Crow, and she tells you why the Victorians are fascinating folks. Of course, the Tudors are the best, really, (IMHO, of course!) but she does make a good case for "The Valiant Victorians." Stop by and take a look.

Peg Herring

Coming in November from Five Star: POISON, YOUR GRACE, the second…


Added by Peg Herring on October 9, 2011 at 10:41pm — No Comments

Recognition...or None

When my first book came out, some years ago, it was like someone dropped a pebble in Lake Michigan. My friends and acquaintances were thrilled, so locally, there were ripples. The larger world barely noticed.

My second book, the first Simon & Elizabeth mystery, got more attention: good reviews from PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, LIBRARY JOURNAL, BOOKLIST, etc.

The third book also got good reviews, and people (very few, but still) started saying, "I've heard of you" when I went to book…


Added by Peg Herring on September 26, 2011 at 11:15pm — 3 Comments


If you missed my Monday post yesterday, it's a Tuesday post today. I was in transit from BoucherCon to home, and I just couldn't fit any more in.

Today is catch-up day, but I had to say here how much fun Bcon was, even though I often feel like a small fish in a big pond at such events. Rubbing elbows with the greats of our field, meeting lots of fans, and talking, talking, talking about books is a great way to take a break from real life and at the same time learn what is real in…


Added by Peg Herring on September 21, 2011 at 2:54am — No Comments

Why I Love Fictional Mysteries

Many years ago, along with practically everyone else in the U.S., I read HELTER SKELTER. It was absolutely fascinating, and I never read another true crime book.

My friends sometimes tease me about how easily I dispatch people in my stories, but that's the point: they're book people, not real people. Despite their omnipresence these days, I avoid news stories that promise in-depth coverage of gruesome crimes and vicious criminals. That's real. Someone got hurt. Someone isn't right in the… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 12, 2011 at 10:34pm — No Comments

Hackneyed Plots and Not So Much

They say there are only twenty or so. Plots can be boiled down to certain themes: coming of age, finding love, restoring justice, etc. The devil, as they say, is in the details.

Mysteries tend to be about restoring--or at least seeking--justice, so the reasons we choose and read certain mysteries will often relate to subthemes. Many like mysteries where they learn about a job, a craft, a way of life. I like some of that, too, but I also want some creativity in the way the protag looks for… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on August 29, 2011 at 10:34pm — No Comments

What Was I Thinking?

Some time ago, my editor at LL asked when I might be finished with the second book of the Dead Detective series. After a pseudo-scientifi process, I told her June. Wrong. Here's why. First, I am an incurable optimist. I tell myself that I will write for four hours/day, five days/week. That never happens, of course. Life intervenes. Second, creativity does not like being forced. Even if I could sit before my computer for four hours a day, five days a week, much of that time would be spent… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on July 19, 2011 at 1:01am — No Comments

Research--a Kind of Mini-Vacation

Hubby and I traveled to the Mackinac Bridge this weekend. It's something we've seen lots of times before, but I found that as I reached the closing scenes of the second Dead Detective Mystery, I needed to look at the bridge with a new purpose. The book is already past the date that I gave my editor for submission, but I needed to answer some specific questions: can a person get from the water onto the bridge, would the bridge workers be aware of a pedestrian, and could she get up onto the…


Added by Peg Herring on July 11, 2011 at 11:13pm — No Comments

The Flag, Pie, and...Mystery Novels

I just finished three pies for our church ice cream social, held on the Fourth every year. I like making pies. They require a little expertise, they look pretty if they're done well, and they get you all sorts of compliments from people who hope you will make more.

On this Fourth, the pies reminded me of my novels. They, too, take some expertise, and I've worked many, many years, days, and hours to get to the point where I know that I will need to work many more years, days and hours.…


Added by Peg Herring on July 4, 2011 at 11:03pm — No Comments

Simon & Elizabeth Sleuth Again

I got the ARCs (advance review copies) of POISON, YOUR GRACE recently. The ARC serves several purposes: it gives the author a last chance to check the book over before it goes to publication. It allows reviewers the chance to read the book and write their opinions before it goes on sale. It gives an author the chance to tease audiences a little by giving away a few copies of the as-yet-unfinished product.

And it makes me crazy.

Just kidding, but it seems the ARCs show up just when I'm… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on June 20, 2011 at 10:00pm — No Comments

The Not-So-Dreaded Interview



I was interviewed by Sylvia Ramsey for her blog today. She does a great job with interesting questions about my new book, SHAKESPEARE'S BLOOD, my work in general, and how I write. Take a look!…


Added by Peg Herring on June 14, 2011 at 10:13pm — No Comments

Involved Reading Versus Automatic Reading

Sometimes you feel like a rut; sometimes you don't.

There are books that are automatic. You know the characters, know how they're going to react. You know, generally, what situations they will encounter, and you know they will triumph in the end. Books of this type, when well done, are entertaining, and authors like Sue Grafton and Lee Child do well with them.

Non-automatic books take a different type of writing. The reader does not know…

Added by Peg Herring on June 13, 2011 at 10:30pm — No Comments


Waaaaay back in 2007, we were driving in the hills of West Virginia, two innocent tourists, when my phone rang. "Your book, SHAKESPEARE'S BLOOD, has been chosen as a finalist in Amazon's Breakout Novel Contest," someone informed me. Well, that changed the tenor of conversation in that car, as you can well imagine.

But nothing happened. The book did not ultimately win Amazon's contest. The agency that took it on was not successful in selling it, although editors who looked at it…


Added by Peg Herring on June 1, 2011 at 11:40pm — No Comments

Why Are Self-Published Books Bad?

Trick question. They're not, or at least they don't have to be. Some people I know have self-published, AFTER they thought about it for a long time. They paid an editor to find the errors they missed. They paid an artist to do a classy cover. They even paid a computer geek to make sure the formatting is clean, correct, and friendly to whatever e-reader would be used. Then and only then did they self-publish. Yay for them.

On the other hand, there are people who are too anxious,…


Added by Peg Herring on May 17, 2011 at 3:45am — 1 Comment

The Limits of Teasing Readers

Okay, Author, you've got a big secret in your book, something that happened to the main character in the past that has a bearing on how he/she acts today. Here are Peg's rules for dealing with it:

First, refer to it sparingly. I get tired of being reminded that there's something you know that I don't.

Second, make the clues progressive, so I have a chance of figuring it out, at least partly, before the end.

Third, the secret had better be good enough when I get there to…


Added by Peg Herring on May 10, 2011 at 3:51am — No Comments

When They Like You, Critics Matter

I've certainly done my share of carping over authors' failings, both live and online. I am impatient with characters who act in ways real people never would, with plots that don't make complete sense at the end, and especially with killers who come out of nowhere in the last chapter. However, I don't pretend to be a critic. Like so many other people, I only know--and only want to talk about--what I like.

I've heard writers and readers say that critics don't matter. "I never…


Added by Peg Herring on April 4, 2011 at 11:13pm — No Comments

Reading Something Else

Several days a week, I read to someone who can no longer read for herself. Like most tasks that serve others, my reading to her serves me as much as it helps her. It's not just the good feeling I get from helping to brighten her day. I'm getting smarter.

As readers, we sometimes get stuck in a rut. I used to read everything, from biography to philosophy to classics to P.I. novels. In the last few years, I had pretty much dropped everything but mystery, the type of books I most enjoy.…


Added by Peg Herring on March 28, 2011 at 10:27pm — No Comments

Guest Blogger Chris Redding

Today my guest is Chris Redding, author of INCENDIARY. Thanks for giving us a peek at your book, Chris! It sounds hot! (Oh, I'm sorry, I just couldn't resist!)…


Added by Peg Herring on March 24, 2011 at 9:00pm — No Comments

Writing Like a Monk

Fellow author Laura Alden and I hosted a retreat for writers last weekend. We took over a small inn in northern Lower Michigan. We sent each writer who arrived to a quiet place for hours at a time with the demand that they "Just write!"

Everyone who attended was pleased with the amount of work accomplished. It's amazing what a person can get done when no phone rings, no laundry buzzer sounds, no spouse pounds in the basement, and no kids interrupt to ask what's for…


Added by Peg Herring on March 21, 2011 at 8:49pm — 2 Comments

What Novel Can Compete with "Reality"?

Mystery writers get together, and they talk. They discuss how hard it is to keep their books "real": correct police procedures, well-drawn protagonists, and non-stereotypical antagonists. We sweat, toil, and reread a thousand times to be sure the mystery makes sense, the ending adds up, and the world is set right at the end.

Then comes reality. People who should get no attention at all are splashed all over the media as if the lives they are leading make sense. I won't say the names…


Added by Peg Herring on March 14, 2011 at 9:59pm — 4 Comments

Guest Blogger Lois Winston

Today I welcome Lois Winston, author of the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries. I've certainly HURT myself with a glue gun, but "deadly"? That's her title, and here's her story.


By Lois…


Added by Peg Herring on March 8, 2011 at 2:43am — No Comments

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