Writing Paranormal Fiction


Paranormal fiction is a genre of fiction that involves supernatural or paranormal phenomena. This type of fiction often includes ghosts, vampires, werewolves, witches, and other creatures of the supernatural realm. If you want to write paranormal fiction, here are some steps you can follow:

  1. Develop your concept and theme: Start by deciding on your story concept and theme. This is the idea that will drive your story forward. It could be anything from a haunted house to a vampire love story. Once you have your concept, think about what theme you want to explore. Is your story going to be about love, fear, or redemption? Having a clear idea of what you want to explore will help you stay focused as you write.
  2. Build your world: Next, you need to create the world in which your story takes place. This involves not only the physical setting but also the rules of the paranormal universe. Will your vampires be killed by sunlight? Can your ghosts interact with the living? The rules of your world should be consistent and make sense within the context of your story.
  3. Create your characters: Your characters are the heart of your story. Take time to develop them fully, giving them distinct personalities, backgrounds, and motivations. Make sure that their actions and decisions make sense within the context of the story and that they are consistent throughout.
  4. Establish the conflict: All stories need conflict, and paranormal fiction is no exception. Your conflict could be anything from a battle between two supernatural beings to a character struggling to come to terms with their own powers. Whatever it is, make sure that it is compelling and drives the story forward.
  5. Write with atmosphere: Paranormal fiction is all about atmosphere. You want to create a sense of unease and tension throughout your story. Use vivid descriptions and sensory details to transport your readers to your world. Make sure that your tone and language reflect the mood you want to create.
  6. Edit and revise: Once you have a first draft, take time to edit and revise your work. Look for plot holes, inconsistencies, and anything else that might detract from the story. Make sure that your characters are fully developed and that their actions make sense. Finally, make sure that your pacing is appropriate and that your story flows well.

Writing paranormal fiction can be an exciting and rewarding experience. By following these steps, you can create a story that engages readers and transports them to a world of supernatural wonders.

Different Types of Paranormal Fiction

There are various types of paranormal fiction, and here are a few popular ones:

  1. Ghost stories: These stories involve ghosts, spirits, or other supernatural entities that haunt a place or a person. They usually focus on a person’s experience with the supernatural, and the protagonist is often trying to understand or come to terms with the haunting.
  2. Vampire fiction: This type of paranormal fiction involves vampires, who are typically portrayed as immortal beings with superhuman strength and a thirst for blood. Vampire fiction often explores themes of power, mortality, and love.
  3. Werewolf fiction: Werewolves are another popular paranormal creature that appears in fiction. These stories often involve a person who transforms into a wolf-like creature during a full moon and the challenges they face in controlling their primal urges.
  4. Witchcraft and wizardry: These stories involve characters who have magical abilities and practice witchcraft or wizardry. These stories often take place in a world where magic is commonplace and follow the protagonist’s journey as they navigate their magical powers.
  5. Urban fantasy: This genre combines elements of paranormal fiction with elements of urban and contemporary fiction. These stories usually take place in a modern-day setting, and the protagonist is often an ordinary person who discovers a hidden world of supernatural creatures living among humans.
  6. Supernatural romance: This genre combines elements of romance with the paranormal. These stories often involve a human falling in love with a supernatural being, such as a vampire or werewolf.
  7. Paranormal mystery: This type of paranormal fiction involves a mystery or a crime that has a paranormal or supernatural element to it. The protagonist is usually a detective or an investigator who must use their knowledge of the paranormal to solve the case.

Most Popular Paranormal Fiction

It’s difficult to determine the most popular type of paranormal fiction at any given time, as popularity can fluctuate depending on current trends, new releases, and media adaptations. Some of the more popular paranormal fiction sub-genres that have enjoyed significant popularity in recent years include supernatural romance, urban fantasy, and witchcraft and wizardry.

 In particular, supernatural romance has been a consistent favorite among readers for many years. Popular series such as Twilight by Stephenie Meyer and The Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith has contributed to the genre’s continued popularity. Urban fantasy, which often combines elements of paranormal and mystery fiction with a contemporary setting, has also seen a surge in popularity in recent years, with series such as Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files and Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels achieving significant success.

The Future of Writing Paranormal Fiction

Paranormal fiction has been a popular genre for many years and continues to attract a dedicated fan base. While the popularity of the genre has fluctuated over time, it remains a viable and profitable area of publishing.

In recent years, many publishers have continued to acquire and release paranormal fiction titles, and there are still many readers who enjoy the genre. With the rise of self-publishing and digital publishing, there are also many opportunities for authors to publish their paranormal fiction independently and reach a wide audience.

That said, like all genres, the success of a paranormal fiction book depends on factors such as the quality of the writing, the strength of the plot, and the author’s ability to market their work. As with any genre, some books will succeed and others may not, but there is still a future for paranormal fiction in publishing for those who are passionate about the genre and willing to put in the work to create engaging stories.



Writing Tropes in Romantic Suspense

Romantic suspense is a genre that blends the elements of romance and suspense. It typically involves a romantic relationship between the protagonist and antagonist, as well as a high level of tension and danger. Tropes are commonly used in this genre to help create the desired atmosphere and storyline. Here are some steps to follow when writing tropes in a romantic suspense novel:

  1. Determine the desired tone and atmosphere: The first step in writing tropes for a romantic suspense novel is to determine the desired tone and atmosphere of the story. Will it be dark and brooding, or light and playful? Will it have a lot of action and suspense, or will it be more focused on the romance? The answers to these questions will help determine which tropes will work best for your story.
  2. Choose your romantic tropes: Once you have determined the tone and atmosphere of the story, it’s time to choose the romantic tropes you want to include. There are many tropes that work well in romantic suspense, such as enemies-to-lovers, forbidden love, and second-chance romance. Choose the ones that best fit your story and characters.
  3. Choose your suspense tropes: In addition to romantic tropes, you will also want to include suspense tropes to help create the desired level of tension and danger. Some popular suspense tropes include the ticking time bomb, the race against the clock, and the hero in peril. Again, choose the tropes that best fit your story and characters.
  4. Weave the tropes together: The next step is to weave the tropes together to create a cohesive and compelling story. The romantic tropes should be integrated into the larger plot, and the suspense tropes should be used to raise the stakes and keep the reader on edge. Make sure that the tropes work together seamlessly and that they enhance the overall story.
  5. Add your own twists: Finally, don’t be afraid to add your own twists to the tropes. While tropes are helpful for creating a framework for your story, you don’t want to rely too heavily on them. Adding your own unique spin to the tropes can help make your story stand out and keep readers engaged.

Writing tropes in a romantic suspense novel involves determining the desired tone and atmosphere, choosing the appropriate tropes, weaving them together, and adding your own twists. By following these steps, you can create a compelling and engaging story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

How Do Tropes in Romantic Suspense Differ from Other Romance Genres

Writing tropes in romantic suspense differ from other romance genres in a few key ways. While many romance novels share similar tropes, such as the love triangle, the fake relationship, and the friends-to-lovers plotline, the use of these tropes in romantic suspense is distinct.

Here are some ways in which writing tropes in romantic suspense differs from other romance genres:

  1. The presence of danger: Romantic suspense novels include an element of danger that is not typically present in other romance genres. This danger can come in the form of physical threats, such as a stalker or a murderer, or it can be more subtle, such as the threat of secrets being exposed. This danger creates a heightened level of tension and raises the stakes for the characters’ romantic relationship.
  2. The balance between romance and suspense: In romantic suspense, the balance between the romantic plotline and the suspense plotline is critical. While other romance genres may focus more heavily on the romantic relationship, romantic suspense must maintain a careful balance between the two plotlines. If the suspense plotline becomes too dominant, the romance can feel forced or out of place. Conversely, if the romance plotline takes over, the suspense can feel like an afterthought.
  3. The use of tropes to create tension: Tropes are used differently in romantic suspense than in other romance genres. In romantic suspense, tropes are used to create tension and heighten the danger. For example, the trope of the hero in peril can be used to create a sense of urgency and raise the stakes for the romantic relationship.
  4. The resolution of the plotlines: In romantic suspense, the resolution of the plotlines is often more complex than in other romance genres. The romantic plotline and the suspense plotline must both be resolved in a way that is satisfying to the reader. This can be challenging, as the resolution of one plotline can impact the resolution of the other.

Writing tropes in romantic suspense differs from other romance genres in the presence of danger, the balance between romance and suspense, the use of tropes to create tension, and the resolution of the plotlines. These elements make romantic suspense a unique and exciting genre for both readers and writers.

Types of Tropes Used in Romantic Suspense

There are several tropes commonly used in the romantic suspense genre. These tropes are often used to create tension and suspense, while also developing the romantic relationship between the main characters. Here are some of the most popular tropes used in the romantic suspense genre:

  1. Enemies-to-lovers: In this trope, the main characters start out as enemies or adversaries, but gradually develop feelings for each other as they work together to overcome a common threat.
  2. Second chance romance: This trope involves two characters who were previously in a romantic relationship but separated for some reason. They are given a second chance to rekindle their romance as they work together to solve a mystery or overcome a danger.
  3. Fake relationship: In this trope, the main characters pretend to be in a romantic relationship for some reason, such as to deceive a villain or to maintain a cover. However, their fake relationship eventually becomes real as they fall in love.
  4. Protective hero: In this trope, the hero is fiercely protective of the heroine, often putting himself in danger to keep her safe. This trope creates a sense of danger and suspense, as the hero works to protect the heroine from harm.
  5. Amnesia: This trope involves one of the main characters losing their memory and having to work with the other character to recover it. This creates a sense of mystery and suspense, as the characters try to uncover the truth behind the memory loss.
  6. Forbidden love: This trope involves a romantic relationship that is forbidden for some reason, such as being between a boss and an employee or between two people from different social classes. The tension and danger come from the societal or personal pressures that make the relationship difficult.
  7. Stalker or obsession: This trope involves a character being stalked or obsessed over by someone, creating a sense of danger and suspense. The romantic relationship often develops as the characters work to overcome the threat.

These tropes can be used in combination or separately to create a compelling romantic suspense story. They are often used to develop the romantic relationship between the characters, while also creating a sense of tension and danger that keeps the reader engaged.


Interview Beem Weeks, Author of The Thing About Kevin!


Beem Weeks is an author, editor, blogger, podcast host, and audio/video producer. He has written many short stories, essays, poems, and the historical fiction/coming of age novel entitled Jazz Baby. Beem has also released Slivers of Life: A Collection of Short Stories and Strange Hwy: Short Stories, and the novella The Thing About Kevin. He is a lifelong native of Michigan, USA.


Can you tell us a little about your background?

I am a lifelong Michigander, born and raised. I spent two years living in Ft. Myers, Florida, in the 1980s.

How did you get started as an author?

I’ve been writing since I was eight years old. I co-wrote a play that was performed for the entire school in fifth grade. Once in high school, I wrote a music column for the school newspaper. From the first time I learned to read, I’ve been a voracious reader. Reading helped fuel my desire to write.

Can you talk about your latest book and the inspiration behind it?

My most recently published work is a mystery thriller set in Chicago. It’s a shorter read, at just over seven thousand words. A young man named Jacob returns home for his father’s funeral. Dad was a mob man, part of the local mafia. The oldest son walked out of the house more than thirty years earlier, and just disappeared. Talk is, he may return for the funeral. Secrets begin to spill; life isn’t what Jacob remembers. When the truth finally comes out, his family may never be the same. The inspiration for this one came from my desire to write a mystery thriller, since I usually work in coming of age or historical fiction. 

How do you approach the writing process? Do you have a specific routine or method?

I am a plotter. I outline my stories. They usually begin with a simple idea that I’ll jot down on a Post-It note or in a notebook. Once I begin to work on it, I’ll close myself off in my office/bedroom, and I’ll begin to outline the story. Once I know where it starts and where it ends, I map out the road between. Once I have a general idea of what the story will look like, I’ll begin writing. I don’t have a special process or routine, though I do require silence.  

Can you share any challenges you faced during the writing process of your latest book?

I can’t really say there were any challenges. I’ve been writing most of my life, I tend to just plow ahead. I do find that my writing time has been limited in recent years, simply for the fact that I’m busy with my day job—editing other writers’ work.

How do you develop your characters and bring them to life on the page?

Often, it’s the characters that come to me first. I’m a people watcher, so ideas are all over the place. I’ll hear an accent or a stutter that works for a character. There might be a limp or a nervous habit that fills out a personality. The idea is to make the characters so real, the reader will feel they know this person—or somebody just like him or her.

Can you discuss your research process for your latest book?

Research is vital to a good story. It’s one of my favorite parts in the creative process. I write a lot of stories set in past decades. If the story is set in the 1920s, obviously I need to know what that era was like, since I wasn’t around back then. I use Google and various websites to address any questions I need answered. If you’re telling the story of a man living in, say, 1977, you need to understand smart phones and apps and the internet didn’t exist back then. It also helps to know the popular television programs of the day, the common vernacular, clothing fashions, music, fads. There is a lot to consider when crafting reality from fiction.

How do you handle writer’s block and overcome creative obstacles?

I’ve never encountered writer’s block. There are days where I’m just not motivated, but writer’s block has never been an issue. For those who may suffer from this issue, I suggest stepping away from the story and letting the mind rest for a period of time. Then, sit down and read what you’ve written from the beginning.

Can you share any upcoming projects or books you are working on?

I am currently working on two novels, several short stories, and the outline for the sequel to my first novel Jazz Baby. The two novels currently in progress are set in 1910 and 1977. In 1910, a young woman becomes involved in the suffragette movement. She’s a free spirit who just wants to see the world around her and face life on her own terms. But family secrets tug her toward a showdown with the very people she loves most in this world. One mistake will change the trajectory of her life. The story set in 1977 is perhaps my best—as far as plot is concerned. A nine-year-girl from West Memphis, Arkansas, lives with her grandmother and tests at a genius level. While on summer break from school, she works with her grandmother cleaning houses for wealthy people across the river in Memphis, Tennessee. It is during one of these jobs that she is tapped to fill in for a young model during a photo shoot for a department store catalog. The photos, and a trip to New York City, will put her on a collision course with a truth that will forever change her life, and the lives of those around her. One of these projects will hopefully be finished before summer.

Can you talk about your experience working with a publisher or literary agent?

I don’t have an agent. I honestly see little need for one in the publishing world today. I work with publisher Fresh Ink Group to get my work in front of readers. It’s a good fit for me. I tell them what I want, they make it happen. They’ve opened my work to worldwide outlets other than Amazon.   

How do you stay motivated and disciplined while writing?

Basically, I write when I feel like it. I don’t write just to reach a daily word count. When I write, it needs to mean something. It must be important to the story I’m working on. I’m disciplined in that I plot my stories. I edit as I write. I employ the dreaded re-write when needed. But motivation comes with belief in whatever I’m writing. If I believe the story has potential, I’m motivated to see it to the finish line. In a nutshell, if a writer enjoys their current work, that should be motivation enough. Excitement comes from the creative process. Excitement equals motivation—at least to me.  

Can you discuss any themes or messages you hope readers take away from your book?

Many of my stories carry a coming-of-age theme. We all start out as simple lumps of clay. Over time, we’re molded by our families, our teachers, our environments. I try to convey that idea of growing up under uncertain circumstances in my stories. We have dreams and aspirations almost as soon as we learn to walk and talk. Often, those dreams fail to materialize. We change or, maybe, our circumstances change. There will be disappointments galore as we travel this life. I want to capture those growing pains in my characters. I hope readers can relate to the struggles of my characters. 

How do you market your book and connect with readers?

Social media is a huge part of the marketing process. There are so many platforms available. Some work better than others. The world is literally at our fingertips today. Interacting with readers and other writers online really helps bring about name recognition. I’m still learning after more than a decade of working our craft.

Can you share any advice for aspiring authors on how to get published?

I don’t believe in the term aspiring writer. One is either a writer or they are not. There are many fine unpublished writers in the world today. Getting published is easy today. My advice to those who are seeking to publish is to be certain your work is the best it can be. I’m not just talking about punctuation and spelling—though those are incredibly important. Understanding Point of View in your narration is vital. Who is telling your story? Head-hopping is a sure way to lose readers. Choosing a tense and sticking with it is important. Don’t slip between past tense and present tense. I’ve seen that. It ain’t pretty! Learn strong dialogue for your characters. The best way to do that is to be a listener. Hear those around you, the way they speak, the cadence of their sentences, their choice of words and slang, their accents. Consider using beta readers who are NOT also writers. A reader can offer a whole other take than can a writer.  

Can you discuss any other genres you have written in and if you have plans to write in other genres in the future?

I write primarily in coming of age and historical fiction, but I may try other genres at some point. I may even try science fiction or dystopian.

Can you discuss any literary influences or inspirations that have shaped your writing?

My biggest literary influences are those who write with feeling and truth. The stories may be dark with shades of light—just like real life. Barbara Kingsolver is one of my favorites. Her novel The Poisonwood Bible is a master lesson in writing Point of View and dialogue. The Poisonwood Bible happens to be my all-time favorite novel. Daniel Woodrell is also brilliant at creating reality in his characters and situations. Read his Winter’s Bone or Tomato Red for a lesson in strong southern dialect and old-school storytelling. Real life events have also shaped my writing. There may be elements of people I’ve known embedded in some of my characters. Situations I’ve witnessed in the real world may add color and tone to scenes in some of my stories. It happens that way sometimes.

Can you share any experiences you have had with book clubs or other reader groups?

I was part of a book club some years ago. I’ll just say, I’m glad I’m no longer involved. I’ve interacted with some reader groups over the years. Those can be useful in discovering new authors and books.

How do you handle criticism and negative reviews?

Reviews are just opinions. You’re never going to write something that everybody loves. If the majority enjoy it, consider that a win. I don’t take a negative review to heart. It just represents a reader who didn’t connect with my characters or stories. As writers, we can’t take reviews to heart—good or bad. I just write the stories and let others form opinions of them.

Can you discuss your experience with book promotion and advertising?

I’ve used some Google ads and Amazon ads over the years. I can’t say they really did much to up my sales. Other than those two outlets, I really haven’t advertised. I use social media mostly. It helps, though it isn’t a magic bullet.

Can you talk about any challenges you faced during the publishing process?

I really haven’t faced any challenges. As I mentioned before, I use Fresh Ink Group. They’ve seen a lot over the past 25 years. When issues arise, they usually have a plan.

How do you balance your writing with other aspects of your life?

Unfortunately, there are days when I don’t write. I have to prioritize work over writing. But it does balance out. Eventually, my projects reach the finish line and I publish them. It works for me without driving me batty.


Jacob Radner returns to his suburban Chicago roots to bury his departed father. The family is all there—except for older brother Kevin. Thirty-seven years earlier, Kevin Radner walked out the front door and vanished. Will this prodigal son return and finally make peace with the ghost of his mobster father? As the patriarch’s body is lowered into the earth, long-hidden family secrets become uncovered: a former girlfriend, a child born out of wedlock and adopted out, a mother willfully blind to the sins of the father. In this novella, author Beem Weeks examines the notion that sometimes those closest to us are the very ones we should fear most.

Writing a Mystery Novel – Important Steps

There is no one-size-fits-all formula for writing a top-notch mystery novel, as the genre is known for its flexibility and variety. However, there are some key elements that many successful mystery novels share. Here are some essential components of a successful mystery novel:

  1. A compelling hook: Your mystery novel should begin with a hook that immediately draws the reader in. This could be a crime that needs to be solved, a disappearance that needs to be explained, or a secret that needs to be uncovered. Whatever the hook is, it should be intriguing and make the reader want to find out more.
  2. A strong central character: The main character of your mystery novel should be relatable, likable, and engaging. Often, this character is a detective or a sleuth, but it could also be a journalist, a lawyer, or even an amateur sleuth. The character should have flaws and challenges to overcome, and their motivations should be clear and well-defined.
  3. A diverse cast of characters: In addition to the main character, your mystery novel should have a diverse cast of secondary characters who have their own motives and secrets. These characters should be fully developed and memorable, with unique personalities and quirks.
  4. Clues and red herrings: Your mystery novel should have clues that help the main character (and the reader) piece together the solution to the mystery. These clues should be well-placed and subtle, and they should be balanced with red herrings – false leads that distract the main character and the reader from the real solution.
  5. Tension and suspense: Tension and suspense are crucial to a successful mystery novel. You can build tension by creating a sense of urgency, setting a deadline for the main character to solve the mystery, or adding physical danger. You can also use dramatic irony to create tension by having the reader know more about the mystery than the main character does.
  6. A twist ending: A successful mystery novel should have at least one major twist or surprise that the reader did not see coming. This could be a surprising revelation about a character, a sudden plot twist that changes everything, or a clever solution to the mystery that was hidden in plain sight.
  7. A satisfying resolution: Finally, your mystery novel needs to be resolved in a satisfying way. All loose ends should be tied up, all the clues should be explained, and the solution to the mystery should make sense in light of everything that has happened in the story. Ideally, the solution should also be surprising and emotionally satisfying, leaving the reader with a sense of closure and fulfillment.

In summary, there is no one formula for writing a top-notch mystery novel, but there are some key elements that many successful mystery novels share. By including a compelling hook, a strong central character, a diverse cast of characters, clues and red herrings, tension and suspense, a twist ending, and a satisfying resolution, you can create a mystery novel that will keep your readers guessing until the very end.

Interview With Susan Clayton-Goldner, Author of Dark River Rising!


Susan Clayton-Goldner was born in New Castle, Delaware and grew up with four brothers along the banks of the Delaware River. She is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Creative Writing Program. Susan has been writing most of her life. Her novels have been finalists for The Hemingway Award, the Heeken Foundation Fellowship, the Writers Foundation and the Publishing On-line Contest where she received a thousand dollar prize. Susan won the National Writers’ Association Novel Award twice for unpublished novels and her poetry was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. 

Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies including Animals as Teachers and Healers, published by Ballantine Books, Our Mothers/Ourselves, by the Greenwood Publishing Group, The Hawaii Pacific Review-Best of a Decade, and New Millennium Writings. Prior to moving to Oregon and writing full time,

Susan worked as the Director of Corporate Relations for University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona. 

Susan shares a life in Grants Pass, Oregon with her husband, Andreas, her fictional characters, and more books than one person could count.  Website: https://susanclaytongoldner Goodreads Author Page


Can you tell us a little about your background?

I was born in New Castle, Delaware, and grew up with four brothers. After graduating from high school, I attended the University of Delaware where I received an Associate’s degree in Applied Science. I married and moved to Arizona. After my two children started school, I enrolled in creative writing classes and ended up pursuing a MA in Creative Writing.

How did you get started as an author?

From the time I could hold a pencil, I was always writing. It seemed I had to write about something before I fully understood how I felt. I believe writers are born with the passion to write. We can learn to perfect our craft, but writers write because they can’t help themselves. Who’d choose such a difficult and isolating path? So few of us can make a living writing.

Can you talk about your latest book and the inspiration behind it?

One of my reviewers inspired my latest book, Dark River Rising,—a retired minister and police chaplain, who sent me his idea for a novel. I try to deal with a social issue in each of my mysteries and he suggested I consider writing about the difficult topic of child pornography and sex trafficking of minors. I have a kidnapped ten-year-old girl, sold into pornography, and eventually murdered as one of my point of view characters. It was a difficult novel to write from the POV of a dead child. I knew it was risky, but I didn’t think there was any way to convey the horror without hearing it firsthand from a child who’d experienced this trauma.

How do you approach the writing process? Do you have a specific routine or method?

I consider writing to be my job and I go to work daily—sometimes spending 8-10 hours at the computer. Until my husband of 34 years died unexpectedly from a brain bleed, I was producing three novels a year. I’ve slowed down considerably during the past two years, but still manage at least one.

How do you develop your characters and bring them to life on the page?

I always begin by writing an elaborate character sketch for each of the point of view or important characters in the story. I delve into both their physical and psychological history. Sometimes these sketches are ten or more pages long. Writing the sketching helps me to find their voices and to know how and why they behave the way they do. I ask them a lot of personal questions about their childhoods, their parents, their siblings, what they do for a living, what they are most ashamed of in their lives. I ask them what makes them happy. And what hurts them most?

Can you discuss your research process for your latest book?

I always try to read at least three autobiographies of people who have experienced the social issue my character is going through in the book. For example, I wrote a book called Lake of the Dead where I have a transgender individual. In order to climb into her head, I wanted to understand what it felt like to be born into a body that didn’t fit your image of yourself. In Forgotten Creek, I deal with homelessness and, besides reading autobiographies, I went to a homeless encampment in Ashland, Oregon (where my mysteries take place) and spoke with many members of that community. It helped me so much with the character I called “Corndog.”

How do you handle writer’s block and overcome creative obstacles?

I rarely have writer’s block, but for months after my husband died, I could write about anything except grief. Mostly when I feel stuck, I reread what I’ve written so far, along with my character sketches, and that puts me back into the fictive dream.

Can you share any upcoming projects or books you are working on?

My next novel is called River of Mercy. It is about a mercy killing. When my husband had his first brain bleed, he was paralyzed on his entire left side. Most of the time he was coherent. He begged me to help him die. We’d had many discussions about this and I’d always said that I would. But, when it came down to it, I couldn’t. He begged. He cried. He even screamed, “Susan, why won’t you help me?”  About a month ago, I woke up after having had another nightmare about that time and the thought entered my mind, “What if I had?” With that thought the seeds for #14 in the Winston Radhauser mystery series was planted.

Can you talk about your experience working with a publisher or literary agent?

In the course of my writing life, I’ve had 3 agents. None of them were successful at placing one of my novels. When the third one took a paying job as foreign rights manager for another agency, she dropped the clients who were not yet making money for her. I was among them. I tried smaller presses and queried three. Two of them accepted my stand-alone novel, A Bend In The Willow. One of them was Tirgearr Publishing in Ireland. I love them. They have now published 16 novels for me, designed beautiful covers, provided great editing. I could not be happier. What I like most is the response time. If I write with a question, I get an answer within minutes—never longer than a day. That was so refreshing after waiting months for a reply (if you get one at all) from one of the major houses.

How do you stay motivated and disciplined while writing?

Because I love writing so much, it is not difficult for me to be motivated and disciplined. There is almost nothing I’d rather be doing than creating characters and telling their stories.

Can you discuss any themes or messages you hope readers take away from your book?

As I mentioned earlier, I like to deal with some social issue in my novels so that they are more than a mystery. The books in my series are a cross genre—somewhere between a family drama and a mystery. I want my readers to come away from the books moved to a place of feeling—be it sadness, empathy, joy. I want them to have taken a journey with the characters and come to care deeply about the outcome. I hope that I can change someone’s heart from contempt to compassion—as in the book about the homeless man.

How do you market your book and connect with readers?

This is the hardest part of the process. I’ve found Bookbub to be a great resource, but it is expensive and difficult to get. I put the first book in the mystery series, Redemption Lake, on Bookbub for free. The first day, over 100,000 people downloaded it. And this turned out to be a smart move because the other books sold at full price. I’ve also used the newsletters like ENT, FKBT, Bookbaby, Book Adrenaline. I have a website and a blog. I send out a newsletter to about 5,000 people. Every year I try to enter a few contests and line up reviewers who will post on launch day. It’s hard work and not nearly as much fun as the writing itself.

Can you share any advice for aspiring authors on how to get published?

Be tenacious. I think tenacity is the best gift a writer can receive. Keep trying. Never give up. I was writing for two decades before I finally found a publisher. But it was definitely worth the wait.

Can you discuss any other genres you have written in and if you have plans to write in other genres in the future?

I have written 3 stand-alone novels. One, Tormented, is a thriller. It won the Rone Award for Best Thriller 2019. Missing Pieces is a family drama about a daughter’s journey to forgiveness with her father. A Bend In The Willow, my first published novel, is about a mother’s love for her son who has leukemia and the lengths she will go, risking her own life, to save him.

Can you share any experiences you have had with book clubs or other reader groups?

I love talking to book clubs. I recently did one in Tucson with a group of women who were so conscientious. I gave them a list of questions to answer about A Bend In The Willow. They actually typed out their answers. We had a lively discussion. The host put on a catered luncheon and she’d bought copies of all my books and created a centerpiece for the table with them. It’s fun for the writer and the readers. I highly recommend them.

How do you handle criticism and negative reviews?

It’s a crazy thing, and probably true for most writers, but we remember the critical reviews. We can have 100 excellent, glowing, five-star reviews, and not remember one of them. But we never forget the bad ones. They hurt more in the beginning. I now understand that not everyone will love my books. And that there are mean-spirited people in the world who leave a one-star review just because they see the book has a lot of five stars. I used to read every review, now I often skip the bad ones. But the most important thing to remember is not to respond to the negative ones. Thank a reader for the positive ones if you can.

How do you balance your writing with other aspects of your life?

This is often difficult to do, especially if you have a young family. I did not start writing full time until I’d retired from my job and my children were off to college. So, for me, it has not been difficult. I often take my computer with me on vacations and write during long train, airplane rides or any other time I can steal away and write.


Where has Ava Cartwright been for the past three years and why was she dumped on the eve of her thirteenth birthday?

When Detective Winston Radhauser’s phone rings in the middle of the night, he knows something terrible has happened. On this night, a homeless man, rummaging for food in a local dumpster, finds the body of a severely beaten young woman. On scene, Radhauser estimates the victim to be in her early twenties. He’s overcome when he learns the forensics reveal she is the girl whose disappearance has haunted him for three years–Ava Cartwright.

In broad daylight, Ava’s bicycle had been found parked with the kickstand down near a wooded area. Search parties inched their way through every portion of those woods, the neighborhood, nearby Lithia Park, and along miles of railroad tracks, but there was no sign of the little girl.

Where has she been all this time? And why was she dumped on the eve of her thirteenth birthday? There must be something, some tiny detail, he missed that will give him a lead. This time, Radhauser won’t quit until he finds it.


Interview With Author, Alan Brenham!


After graduating from college, Alan spent twenty years as a criminal investigator before earning a law degree. I worked first as a prosecutor then as a defense attorney for over thirty years. Travels for the U.S. Government took me to several European and Middle Eastern countries. While contracted to the U.S. Army, I resided in Berlin, Germany. I married a retired Army officer. She and I live in the Austin, Texas, area.

Under the pen name of Alan Brenham, I have published five crime fiction novels, Price of Justice (2013), Cornered (2014), Rampage (2015), Game Piece (2018), and Hidden Intentions (2020), with an

established publisher. All five novels have garnered numerous awards and endorsements. A sixth novel is under contract to an established publisher in Ireland.

Learn More About Alan


Can you tell us a little about your background?

My background includes twenty years as a law enforcement officer and thirty years as a prosecutor and later as a criminal defense attorney. After retirement, I decided to write crime fiction, using my experiences to craft stories and characters.

How did you get started as an author?

A- I had always loved to read so, after retirement, I went back to reading novels. With a few under my belt, I decided to write crime fiction. I relied on my work experiences and cases as well as my international travels as a federal marshal to craft stories and characters.

Can you talk about your latest book and the inspiration behind it?

My latest book features the adventures and difficulties a young deaf woman faced while living alone in  Paris, France. The inspiration for it came from my own loss of hearing as well as my time living in Europe.

How do you approach the writing process? Do you have a specific routine or method?

My writing routine is to start the day rereading the preceding chapter before beginning to craft the next chapter. I tried creating an outline and character profiles. What works for me is to write the story then go back to begin revisions.

Can you share any challenges you faced during the writing process of your latest book?

The main challenge I faced in Every Silent Thing was creating a believable deaf character. Although I have a loss of hearing, I’m not deaf so the challenge was how to make Claire Devereaux come alive. To solve it, I linked up with a female Canadian author who is deaf. She was kind enough to provide responses to Claire’s scenes – how she would remain fully aware of her surroundings in public, communication skills, and her individual outlook and behavior in interpersonal relationships, particularly with those who didn’t know sign language.

Can you discuss your research process for your latest book?

For the two recent stories set in Paris and Rome, I spent a good amount of research time viewing Google Maps to perfect the setting. My niece spent a good deal of time in both cities so I relied on her input for specifics for both. With the main character being deaf, I spent time learning some aspects of American (ASL) and French (LSF) sign language.

How do you handle writer’s block and overcome creative obstacles?

My wife is nothing short of genius when it comes to curing my writers block episodes. She has a knack for presenting the right question/suggestion concerning the story that ends the slump. It’s worked since I began writing in 2012.

Can you share any upcoming projects or books you are working on?

I am currently working on a police procedural set in Fort Worth, Tx, featuring a young Native American detective who is learning how to deal with racial and ethnic sniping by another detective while the two of them reluctantly work together to solve a homicide case.

Can you talk about your experience working with a publisher or literary agent?

The staff with my first publisher was easy to work with and very helpful. After the staff retired/resigned, the company was taken over by one person and seems to be closing down. Regarding my new publisher (Tirgearr), It’s like going from a dark room into one well-lit.

How do you market your book and connect with readers?

I used reader connections built through my extended family and from former co-workers from my law enforcement days. For marketing/promotions, I rely on connections from social media and paid services for book reviews and book promotions. I’ve also connected with a few New York Times bestselling authors for endorsements.

Can you discuss any other genres you have written in and if you have plans to write in other genres in the future?

The only genres I’ve written in are mystery-police procedural- and thriller. I’ve considered others such as horror and sci-fi. As of today, I have no plans to expand my genre list beyond mystery and thriller.

Can you discuss any literary influences or inspirations that have shaped your writing?

The chief literary influences that shaped my writing were crime fiction and thriller authors such as Michael McGarrity, Robert Crais, and Lee Gimenez. Early on, I had read some of McGarrity’s police procedural novels. They motivated me to create my first character (Detective Jason Scarsdale) in a 2012 novel and its two sequels. Crais impressed me with his style of a wise-assed PI playing off his no-nonsense no-humor partner. Gimenez’ books introduced me to using a female as the lead character.

How do you handle criticism and negative reviews?

As a twenty-some veteran of law enforcement, I learned to develop a thick skin when it came to criticism. I carried that forward into my writing career. Everyone has an opinion and suggestions as to how a scene or character should be crafted. I read them and consider some. I do submit my story drafts to a beta reader and adjust the missteps accordingly.

As for negative reviews, I rely on a quote by the poet John Lydgate: “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”

Can you discuss your experience with book promotion and advertising?

I use paid promotional services, book reviews, and word of mouth to promote and advertise my novels. The experience has been overall decent. Of course, I wish I could have more book reviews and sell a ton of books.

How do you balance your writing with other aspects of your life?

No worries there. I use a five-hour period six days a week to write then spend the remainder doing the items on my wife’s honey-do list. The evenings are entirely devoted to spending quality time with my wife.

Alan Brenham Book Combo 2

The Challenges and Rewards of Writing in Multiple Genres

I write in multiple genres, and it can be both challenging and rewarding. So far, I’ve written mystery, romance, paranormal, women’s fiction, and a mixture of two or three together. I have two historical books I want to write as well. See below the genres where I’m published.

Here are some of the challenges and rewards that writers may face when writing in multiple genres:


  1. Audience Expectations: One of the biggest challenges of writing in multiple genres is that readers may have certain expectations of the author’s writing style or subject matter based on their previous work. When a writer shifts to a new genre, they may have to work hard to earn the trust and interest of their readers.
  2. Learning New Skills: Each genre has its own rules and conventions. Writing in multiple genres requires the writer to learn the rules of each genre and master the necessary writing skills. This can take time and effort.
  3. Branding: If a writer is known for a particular genre, it can be challenging to establish a brand in a new genre. This is especially true for authors who have built a large following in a particular genre.
  4. Marketing: When an author writes in multiple genres, it can be challenging to market their work effectively. They may need to create different marketing strategies for each genre, which can be time-consuming and expensive.


  1. Creativity: Writing in multiple genres can be a great way to explore new ideas and stretch one’s creativity. The writer can experiment with different writing styles, characters, and themes, which can lead to exciting and unexpected results.
  2. Flexibility: Writing in multiple genres can also make a writer more versatile and adaptable. They can switch between genres based on their mood, inspiration, or market demand.
  3. Broader Audience: Writing in multiple genres can expand an author’s readership by attracting readers who may not have been interested in their previous work. It can also make an author more appealing to literary agents and publishers who are looking for versatile writers.
  4. Intellectual Challenge: Writing in multiple genres can be intellectually stimulating and challenging. It requires the writer to master different styles, techniques, and themes, which can be a rewarding experience.

In conclusion, writing in multiple genres can be a challenging and rewarding experience for writers. While there are challenges to overcome, the benefits of expanding one’s creative horizons and attracting a broader audience can be significant.

For more information on my books visit my website at kimcoxauthor.com

Paranormal Cozy Mystery with Romance and Humor

Lana Malloy Paranormal Mystery Series

Paranormal Romance and Mystery

Wandering Spirits Series – Multi-Author Anthologies

Romantic Suspense and Romantic Mystery Novels

Style & Profile Series and Stand Alone Novels

Women’s Fiction

Love’s Endurance – A Novelette

Contemporary Romance – Short Stories

Eight Tips for Creating Complex and Relatable Characters in a Romantic Suspense Novel

Creating complex and relatable characters in a romantic suspense novel requires a combination of careful planning and attention to detail. Here are a few tips to help a writer create complex and relatable characters:

  1. Develop a detailed character arc: Characters should change and grow throughout the story. A detailed character arc will help the writer understand how their character will change and develop over the course of the novel.
  2. Create a detailed backstory: Every character should have a detailed backstory that explains who they are and why they act the way they do. This will help the writer understand their character’s motivations and make them more relatable to readers.
  3. Make characters multi-dimensional: Characters should have a mix of strengths and weaknesses and should be capable of both good and bad actions. This will make them more relatable and more interesting to readers.
  4. Use descriptive language: Use descriptive language to create a detailed and vivid picture of the character’s appearance, mannerisms, and personality. This will help the reader see the character as a real person and relate to them.
  5. Create conflict: Characters should have internal conflicts that they need to work through. This will make them more relatable and more interesting to readers.
  6. Use Dialogue: Use dialogue as a tool to reveal a character’s personality, motivation and thoughts. It also helps to create a sense of realism and relatability.
  7. Show, don’t tell: Instead of telling the reader what the character is like, show them through the character’s actions, thoughts, and dialogue.
  8. Be consistent: Characters should be consistent in their actions, thoughts, and reactions throughout the story. This will make them more relatable and believable.

By following these tips, a writer can create complex and relatable characters that will keep readers engaged and invested in the story.

Photo by Gabriel Bastelli: https://www.pexels.com/photo/silhouette-photography-of-man-and-woman-1759823/

Compare and Contrast: Romantic Suspense and Romantic Mystery Novels

Romantic Suspense and Romantic Mystery are both subgenres of romance fiction that incorporate elements of suspense or mystery into the romantic plot. To learn the main differences and similarities of these subgenres, keep reading.

Genre Differences

Romantic Suspense novels typically feature a romantic relationship between the main characters that is threatened by a crime or other dangerous events, such as a murder or kidnapping. The suspenseful plot often involves the characters working together to solve the crime or escape danger, while also developing their romantic relationship.

Romantic Mystery novels, on the other hand, typically focus on a mystery or crime that the main characters are trying to solve, with the romantic relationship being a secondary aspect of the plot. These novels often feature an amateur detective, who is typically one of the romantic partners, who is trying to solve a crime or uncover a secret.

Genre Similarities

So what do these two genres have in common? Both genres have the following common elements:

  1. Romance: Both genres feature a romantic relationship between the main characters, which is an important aspect of the plot.
  2. Suspense or Mystery: Both genres involve elements of suspense or mystery, which add tension and excitement to the story.
  3. Character development: Both genres focus on the development of the characters, particularly the romantic relationship between the main characters.
  4. Emotional engagement: Both genres are designed to emotionally engage the readers, drawing them into the story and making them care about the characters and their fates.
  5. Plot-driven: Both genres have a strong emphasis on plot, with the romantic and suspenseful/mysterious elements driving the story forward.
  6. Happy ending: Both genres usually have a happy ending where the romantic couple end up together and the mystery or crime is solved.
  7. Combination of genres: Both genres are a combination of romance and mystery/suspense genres and are designed to appeal to readers who enjoy both.


The two sub-genres are so similar it can be hard to distinguish between them. In romantic suspense, the mystery is secondary to the romance, whereas with romantic mystery, the love interest is secondary. So according to this research, my first romance novel, Suspicious Minds, and my Style and Profiles series novels are in the romantic suspense genre whereas my latest published novel, For the Love of Money, is a romantic mystery.

Photo by Asad Photo Maldives: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-and-woman-holding-hands-walking-on-seashore-during-sunrise-1024960/




Book Review Sunday: “My GRL” by John W. Howell @HowellWave


John began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the adventure, while the final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016. All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

John lives in Port Aransas, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.


John Cannon has a choice. Save himself or the Annapolis Midshipman.


John J. Cannon, a successful San Francisco lawyer, takes a leave of absence from the firm and buys a boat he names My GRL. His intent is to relax, but others make this intention impossible. John is unaware when he buys his boat that it has been targeted by a terrorist group to be used as a guided bomb to destroy the Annapolis Midshipmen on their summer cruise.

John’s first inkling of trouble is when he wakes up in the hospital and learns they found him unconscious next to the body of the young woman who sold him the boat and laying on the gun that killed her. John must struggle to convince the police he is not a murderer and then he finally ends up as the only one who can try and stop the terrorists from completing their mission.

The action moves from a small town in Texas to fifty miles offshore of the New York Harbor where the terrorists plan to launch their attack.


Reviewer: Kim Cox


Thrilling Mystery With an Unlikely Hero

The unlikely hero is a corporate lawyer looking for a comfortable life outside the world of business. The obstacles he faces will blow your socks off. There’s a terrorist plot afoot and they involve John Cannon. John can’t understand why they’re interested in him but he soon finds out.

This is a well-written, edge-of-your-seat thriller that keeps you turning the pages. I look forward to reading Mr. Howell’s next thriller.

You can get your copy of My GRL. Just click the title or the cover above.

About the Reviewer

Kim Cox is an author of Romance, Mystery, and Paranormal. She lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina with her chainsaw artist husband, their West Highland White Terriers–Scooter and Harley, and a Yorkie mix, Candi. She’s a mother and grandmother.

Kim is published in novels, short stories and articles. Sign up for Kim’s Readers List.

Visit Kim at Kim Cox Author, Kim’s Musings, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads and Google.

Kim has a new release coming out near the end of June 2017: Before We Wed, a romantic suspense and book 2 in the Style & Profile series. All This Time is book 1.

Tranquil garden bench surrounded by cherry blossom trees

Before We Wed Book Blurb:

Just as Sarah Martin and Jon Clayton say their vows, the police crash the wedding to arrest the groom. Jon is terrified and Sarah is heartbroken. Thankfully, their friends support them emotionally and help find Jon an excellent attorney.

When evidence of John’s guilt is found, he swears he’s innocent. But how can he prove it? As if an arrest and pending trial aren’t bad enough, his ex-wife refuses to let him near their seven-year-old son, and has their shared custody agreement rescinded as part of his bail agreement. But when Jon Jon is injured, Jon breaks the agreement and his bail is revoked.

Sarah sees strange men in Jon’s business one night. One follows her home and attacks her. When Jon finds out, he pushes her way to protect her, but it doesn’t deter her loyalty to him or the attacker’s determination to killer her. Will the enemy get to her?

Is Jon truly innocent, and does he have no idea how the damaging evidence found its way into his business? Are there more sinister people involved? Will Sarah find the evidence she needs to clear him, or will she find out he’s fooled them all? If someone else is framing Jon, who is it and what are their motives?


Cover Design by Sean Lowery at High Impact Covers

Read more about BEFORE WE WED here.

Coming up Next –  Scheduled books and short stories – Kim’s Read & Review List are: (order may change at any time)
Practical Passion by Elizabeth Delisi (100% Read)
The One Enlightened by Yvette Calleiro (starting 6/19)
Nikki Magee by Peter Wendt
She Dies at the End (November Snow Book 1) by A. M. Manay
Daydream’s Daughter, Nightmare’s Friend by Nonnie Jules
Shadow of the Drill by Rhani D’Chae
Steamed: A Maid In LA Mystery by Holly Jacobs
Neon Houses by Linda Mims
Love’s Child by Lizzie Chantree
Flowers and Stone by Jan Sikes
Passion & Struggle (The Genesis Saga Book 1) by John Fioravanti
Acts Beyond Redemption (Unintended Consequences Book 1) by Suzanne Burke
The Glade by Harmony Kent
A Highland Ruby (Highland Treasures Book 2) by Brenda B. Taylor
Stealing Time (Book 1) by K.J. Waters
I Kissed A Ghost by Robin Leigh Morgan
Dog Bone Soup by Bette A. Stephens
The Gemstone Chronicles Book Two: The Amethyst by William Stuart
The Black Fox by Gordon Bickerstaff
Bound by the Summer Prince by Mistral Dawn
Our Justice by John Howell
She Lights Up the Dark
(November Snow Book 2) by A. M. Manay
A Thousand Yesteryears (Point Pleasant) by Mae Clair
Mirror of Our Lives: Voices of Four Igbo Women  by Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko
Treachery & Triumph (The Genesis Saga Book 2) by John Fioravanti

Toxic Minds by Gordon Bickersaff