Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I've moved!

It was a long time coming, but I've had my website redone, and I've moved my blog there.  Please visit me at www.lesleyadiehl.com/blog/ and read about my newest book.  You're gonna like what you see there.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Don't tell her relatives what she does

Here's one of the funniest writers in the business.  She's sometimes called the Canadian Evanovich.  And killing people is what she does best.

Author Melodie Campbell

By Melodie Campbell
“Why would you ever want to write about murder?” said the horrified relative.  “Why not write a nice little romance?”
Why indeed?
As I quickly added another relative to kill in my next book (you would be shocked how often that happens….) it occurred to me that there were many reasons to write about murder.
1.        It’s the challenge of creating the clever puzzle.  Plotting a mystery is like playing a chess game.  You always have to think several moves ahead.  Your reader is begging you to challenge them, and is working to beat you – meaning to guess the killer before your detective does - to the end.

2.       It’s plot driven.  Murder mysteries start with action – a murder.  Yes, characterization is important, and particularly motivation.  But murder is by nature an action, and thus something happens in the book you are writing.  And quite often, it happens again and again.

3.       It’s important.  This is murder, after all.  We’re not talking about a simple threat or theft.  A lot is at stake.  Murder is the final act.  The worst that can happen.  The end of it all.

4.       It’s a place to put all your darkest fantasies.  There are a few people I’ve wanted to kill in my life.  They did me wrong.  And while I do have a bit of a reputation for recklessness, I value my freedom more.  So what I can’t do in reality, I relish doing in fiction.

5.       Finally – it’s fun. This is the part I don’t say in mixed company (meaning non-writers and relatives.)  I can’t explain exactly why it’s fun – you’ll have to trust me on this part.  But plotting to do away with characters in highly original ways is a real power trip.  I’m smiling just thinking about it.
Of course, I can understand where some of the relative angst comes from.  In A PURSE TO DIE FOR, a gathering of relatives for a funeral results in the death of one or two.  It was entirely accidental, that use of relatives.  Honest.  I wasn’t thinking of anyone in particular.
 Not much I wasn’t.
(You can follow Melodie at www.melodiecampbell.com)
By Melodie Campbell and Cynthia St-Pierre

What’s more treacherous than navigating a pack of society matrons at a designer sale?
Stalking a killer…
Top 100 Mystery, Amazon.com, Jan. 2013!
And now on:

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The New Gal is Here!

She's here.  Eve Appel, my newest protagonist made her appearance on September 15 in a release from Camel Press entitled A Secondhand Murder.  Here's a bit about her:

Spunky and outspoken Eve Appel moves from Connecticut to rural Florida intent on starting a new life, free of drama, and more importantly, her soon-to-be ex-husband. The rural Florida town of Sabal Bay, situated only an hour from West Palm,  proves to be the perfect spot for her consignment store. Thanks to the recent economic downturn, Florida’s society matrons need a place to discreetly sell their stuff and pick up expensive-looking bargains. But Eve’s life, and her business with it, is turned upside down when a wealthy customer is found stabbed to death in a fitting room.
As accusations fly and business slows, Eve decides to take things into her own hands. With the help of an unlikely bunch of friends—including her estranged ex, her best friend, a handsome private eye, and a charming mafia don—she struggles to find answers and save lives. Through a maze of distorted half-truths, dramatic cover-ups, and unrequited passions, Eve learns just how far the wealthy will go to regain what they have lost.

If you want to learn more about her and me, I'm on tour for the months of October and November.  Below is a list of places I'll be visiting:

buy link: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_15?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=lesley%20a.%20diehl&sprefix=Lesley+A.+Diehl%2Caps%2C256

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Keeping It Real

Today homicide/narcotics detective and author of a new mystery is my guest.  Please welcome C. L. Swinney.
Author C. L. Swinney
Author C. L. Swinney Is Keeping It Real:
I was a reader far before I became a writer.  I read quickly and often finish a book in a day or two.  My favorites are mystery, suspense, and thrillers.  But, I’ve got a bone to pick with crime scenes portrayed in many of these books today.  I see many people get poor reviews for their work because they make a crucial mistake when writing about a crime scene.
First, I’ll add my “expertise” in this topic.  I’m currently a homicide/ narcotics detective, been so for five years, and I’ve been in law enforcement for almost fifteen years.  I’ve investigated everything from street level drug dealers to cartel leaders.  I’ve wiretapped people’s phones and listened to things that would make your blood boil.  My point, I know what a cop, investigator, detective, fireman, coroner, evidence tech, and all other folks would or should do at a crime scene because I’ve been to hundreds of them and investigated most of them.
Here are my tips: 
A)              A clever girlfriend/reporter/significant other that happens to be dating your protagonist wouldn’t walk through a crime scene, manipulate evidence, then walk out without being handcuffed and stuffed in a patrol car.  Crime scenes are sacred grounds, you do things like this in a novel and people who know what should really happen will find it hard to believe.  This attacks your credibility.  I get fiction “isn’t real,” but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be believable.
B)               Every single element and angle of a crime scene is labeled, photographed, cataloged, processed, photographed again, and collected.  In major scenes, evidence technicians will do this, not a beat cop.  If you want to use the beat cop, you need to explain (or better yet, show) why s/he is doing it instead of the expert.  Readers of suspense, thriller, and mystery novels are educated and find it misleading when an author cuts out some or most of these steps.  If the evidence scene isn’t important, take it out all together.
C)               Within the yellow lines of a crime scene, the atmosphere is somber and the people working are focused.  Too many books have people smoking and joking next to a dead body.  A real law enforcement official wouldn’t do that.  Investigating tragedy and death is not a funny matter.  We take it very seriously and owe it to the victim to remain professional.
D)              When writing a crime scene, stick to common sense actions or feelings by your characters.  For instance, don’t have a hardened detective whose “seen it all” pass out or freak out when s/he sees something bizarre at a crime scene.  Most cops with any time on have “seen it all.”  Experienced cops have been through hairy situations causing them to digest bizarre, gross, heinous, whatever you want to throw at them with ease.  I don’t even blink when I see that kind of stuff.  It’s sad really, but it’s also the truth.  If you want to say your character is shocked or caught off guard, show why that is.  Detective X’s faced turned white as the coroner lifted the sheet revealing his brother.
I am a fiction writer but I spend a lot of time trying to make the overwhelming majority of what I write realistic.  I feel it adds to the story and I owe it to the reader to take pride in my craft.  So please, when you want to include a crime scene in your novels, make an effort to avoid the pitfalls I’ve listed above.  I think you will find your story will be better and people will talk about how you nailed it!

While on a fly fishing vacation to Andros Island in the Bahamas, narcotics detectives Dix and Peterson discover their fishing guides were killed when a sudden blast of gunfire fractured their speedboat, Gray Ghost. Local gossip has it that Gray Ghost went to the ocean floor with a hundred million dollars worth of cocaine in the hull. Dix and Peterson are drawn into helping their island friends, and chase down leads in Miami as well as the Bahamas until they identify the diabolical plot of the man known only as The Caller…and then the trouble really starts.
"When two Miami narcotic officers take a fishing trip to the Bahamas, they can't leave the drug world behind...Deftly told by the author, detective and avid fly fisher Chris Swinney, this book will hook any reader of mystery fiction." —Sunny Frazier, author of the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries
Links for book:
Learn more about C. L. Swinney:


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Author James Callan talks about Contrast in Writing

Please welcome author James Callan today. He has some advice for writers which will help your writing sing.
Author James Callan


Contrast Is What Allows Us to See


Frequently, we receive the advice to have things coordinated, matching. The pillows should match the bedspread.  The shirt should match the pants.  The earrings should match the necklace. The furnishing in the house should match.


But it is the contrast that makes the different pieces stand out.


I had two friends in college.  One was six feet four inches tall, the center of the basketball team.  (Yes, it was a long time ago when that was actually tall.)  His best friend was five feet six inches tall.  Mutt and Jeff, we sometimes called them. But everybody noticed them when they were walking across campus. Contrast.


Jewelers will show crystal clear diamonds on black velvet. Contrast.


A perfectly clear blue sky is pretty. Put a single, shinning white cloud in the middle. Both the cloud and the sky become more beautiful, the contrast enhancing both.  Bring in an angry, dark thunderhead and you not only have contrast and beauty, but now you have added drama to the picture.


Robert Parker knew the value of contrast.  He developed a macho protagonist in Spenser, a wise-cracking, ex-cop with his own code of honor.  But, there is a contrast in Spenser, as he likes to cook and has a committed relationship with Susan Silverman, a sophisticated lady and Harvard professor.  And then, to add to the contrast, Parker introduces Hawk. While Spenser speaks well, sometimes eloquently, Hawk’s speech is abrupt, street talk. Hawk has his own code, and is a gun for hire. Parker used these contrasts to propel forty Spenser novels to best-seller status.  (Ace Atkins has continued the Spenser books with two since Parker’s death. Spenser lives on.)


In my book on character development (Character: The Heartbeat of the Novel – Oak Tree Press 2013) I suggest that you develop a sidekick for the protagonist and that there be a distinct contrast between the two. Make the sidekick a carbon copy of the protagonist and all you’ve really done is add another pair of hands. You’ve wasted an opportunity.  Here is an opportunity to highlight features of the protagonist that you’d like to emphasize. In addition, the contrast can also add small conflicts, and we know that conflict is a core element of the novel.


In A Ton of Gold, I pair a street-wise high school graduate with a near-Ph.D. research computer scientist. Both are intelligent, but in contrasting ways. Crystal Moore, the protagonist, is highly educated. Brandi Brewer is street smart. Periodically, Brandi will say to Crystal, “Didn’t you learn anything as a kid?” Brandi learned a lot growing up on the street. Crystal learned a lot in classrooms. It is Crystal who learns from Brandi.


I highlight their differences throughout the book. This contrast helps emphasize features of the protagonist that I want to underscore without my beating the reader over the head. By juxtaposing the two, I can show features without having to tell the reader. And it is this “opposite type” character, Brandi, who helps Crystal find her way to the solution – well, at least for the subplot.

So, remember to use this important writer’s tool, contrast, to emphasize certain things, to add minor (or major) conflicts, to bring additional drama into the story, to improve your novel.


James R. Callan

A Ton of Gold, Oak Tree Press, 2013

Character: The Heartbeat of the Novel, Oak Tree Press, 2013
A Ton of Gold
A contemporary mystery / suspense novel
Can long forgotten, old folk tales affect the lives of people today? In A Ton of Gold, one certainly affected young, brilliant Crystal Moore.  Two people are killed, others threatened, a house burned and an office fire-bombed – all because of an old folk tale, greed and ignorance.  
On top of that, the man who nearly destroyed Crystal emotionally is coming back.  This time he can put an end to her career.  She’ll need all the help she can get from a former bull rider, her streetwise housemate and her feisty 76 year-old grandmother.
A Ton of Gold
By James R. Callan
From Oak Tree Press, Feb. 2013
On Amazon, in paperback, at:  http://amzn.to/UQrqsZ 
Or the Kindle edition at:  http://amzn.to/12PeHJb    
Or from Oak Tree Press at:  http://bit.ly/WJXcWl 
Website:          www.jamesrcallan.com
Blog site:         www.jamesrcallan.com/blog
Book website: www.atonofgold.com